Monday, April 14, 2014

Union Square Café: A New York Culinary Classic

For almost 30 years, Union Square Café been an anchor of New York’s perpetually changing dining landscape. 
Founded in 1985, the restaurant has won five James Beard Awards and also consistently earns Zagat’s #1 ranking as 'New York’s Most Popular Restaurant'. Chef Carmen Quagliata follows in the tradition of James Beard Award winning Chef Michael Romano, who lead the kitchen from 1988 to 2007, helping establish Union Square Café’s reputation as one of the most well-respected restaurants in New York. As Danny Meyer’s first restaurant, Union Square Café is the birthplace of a generation of widely lauded, award-winning restaurants, and an enormous number of world-renowned chefs. It's the defining culinary measure for contemporary-minded American cuisine that continues to remain a destination for warm hospitality and thoughtfully executed, creative cuisine, showcasing exquisite local ingredients with provenance, Chef Quagliata’s creative, flavour-obsessed menu pays homage to his southern Italian and Californian roots and offered one of the best meals we enjoyed in NYC. 

The bar at Union Square Café

Bright colourful lithographs and painting dot the walls at Union Square Café

A chilled glass of Parigot Crément de Bourgogne Rosé

The bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé produced by Parigot & Richard, Burgundy

A glass of 2011 Cava Raventós i Blanc, L'Hereu Reserva Brut from Cataluna

Union Squares renowned Bar Nuts 

The Union Square Café menu

A crisp flatbread, small sesame baguette and slices of crusty whole wheat bread 
are served in a napkin shrouded wire basket

Butter, black olives and a curried nut and olive oil pesto to enjoy with the breads

Charred Beef Sirloin Carpaccio with Crispy Artichokes, Julienned Kale, Mushroom Conserva and Parmigiano

Spinach Salad with Spicy Lamb Skin and Goat Cheese with Dried Cherry Vinaigrette

Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Pierre Henri Gadais, Loire Valley 2011

Pan Roasted Chicken with Parmigiano Bread Pudding and Balsamic Cipollini

A side dish of Wilted Spinach

Prime New York Strip Steak with Radish Salad and Marrow Mashed Potatoes

The Roast Chicken was delicious and enjoyed right down to the bone

Colourful murals dance overhead our corner table

Executive Chef and Partner Carmen Quagliata

The Union Square Cookbook, Winner of the James Beard Award for the Best Restaurant in America

Capellini with Garden Tomatoes 
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy Union Square Café Chef Carmen Quagliata

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1 large beefsteak tomato, cored, peeled and chopped, juice and seeds reserved
8 ounces capellini
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place the cherry tomato halves close together on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut side up. Mix the balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup of the oil together and spoon evenly over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt and bake the tomatoes for 2 to 3 hours, or until they look shrivelled and slightly dry but are still moist when you bite into one, then allow to cool on the baking sheet. Note: The tomatoes can be made several hours in advance.

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook until light golden, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, basil, beefsteak tomato with its juice and seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Add the capellini to the boiling water, stir and cook until al dente. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the skillet, then drain the pasta, add to the sauce, and stir to combine. Add the oven-dried tomatoes with all their oil and juices, and stir once or twice. Transfer to a wide shallow bowl, top with the Pecorino Romano, and serve immediately.

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