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RESTAURANT REVIEW

State of the Union: Delicious

New South End Restaurant Makes the Grade

By Lauren Nowierski

Union Bar and Grill

1357 Washington Street, South End

(617) 423-0555

Sun-Wed, 5:30-11; Thurs-Sat, 5:30-midnight

Perhaps you have seen the countless full-page advertisements all summer in the local Boston magazines announcing “Union: Now Hiring.” Every issue of every magazine had an advertisement like this: no information, no allusion to what Union is exactly, but simply an announcement that it will be opening this autumn. To end my piqued curiosity, I decided to find out for myself just what Union is all about.

Located in the South End on Washington Street on a corner of Union Park, Union fits the bill of a typical South End restaurant: dark, with a lively bar, and very, very crowded. Without reservations, the wait could have been easily an hour, even at 9:30 p.m., past the prime eating time. At the entrance, you encounter a full-length bar, complemented by a few small cocktail tables, not that you can see either of these through the immense crowds. Apparently there are others who were curious to learn more about Union as well.

Upon entering the bar area, you are instantly greeted by multiple hostesses who offer to check your coat for you to help relieve the heat generated by the countless bodies. The dining room to the right of the bar is a fairly small room, around 20 tables, all situated in darkness with a hint of dim light as well as candlelight. In the center of the room, there are quite a few circular booths to give the tables a more isolated feel despite their location in the center of it all. The setup is very typical of the South End, but it definitely works.

The service at Union is indeed outstanding. The waiters are all extremely comfortable with the menu, able to answer any question you may have. The busboys all carry crumbers to remove the mess you have made while eating to make your table always presentable. Everyone seems very delightful and happy to assist with any problems you may be having.

All restaurants can have great service and a fabulous atmosphere, but very few combine all of this with delectable food as well. The food at Union really makes this restaurant. The appetizers range from $7 to $14 and include fried calamari, sweet corn risotto, and lobster fricassee as its highlights. The entrees range from $20 to $30 dollars and include items such as wild halibut with sweet corn and squash, swordfish with Brussels sprouts, as well as more common items as pork chops and lamb chops. The entree list is fairly simple, with no really outlandish items, but each is prepared deliciously in perfect presentation.

The dessert list leaves little to be desired. From the warm Napoleon to the almond panna cotta, each dessert is quite pleasing, though perhaps a tad small in size.

All in all, Union is a very wonderful place, but be prepared to spend money. Fine dining does not come cheap, and a dinner for two without alcoholic beverages will run you around $100. It is a great place for intimate conversation, delicious food, and wonderful service. The crowd is a little on the older end, average age around 30-35; however, Union is very accommodating to all ages and is a great place to go for a first, third, or 75th date.