Describing themselves as a Canadian take on Southern hospitality, Union truly is a blessing to the Ottawa dining scene.
After the onslaught that Ottawa experienced this year in Southern dining*, (*read Fat Boys and SmoQue Shack), I was underwhelmed to have yet another “Southern style” restaurant opening in, what some would call, a saturated market. But one month after their inaugural trial run, I was still hearing an array of positive feedback from experienced and trusted diners. Naturally, I had to check it out for myself.
I should have trusted that with Chef Chris Lord behind the scenes, this Southern secret would be nothing like the aforementioned smoke houses. Although the cuisine is Southern inspired,(as is the communal seating, ambiance and soundtrack), the food is unique to Lord’s iconoclastic hand. Although I was only able to sneak in for the late night menu, I was pleasantly surprised to see a few dishes that evaded the ever so obvious jerkpulledporkbrisketribs. Inspired and refreshing, the late night menu was tasty and exciting: biscuits with rabbit gravy, deviled eggs, pickled pig ears to name a few. Perhaps not trailblazing, but definitely a teaser for what the full menu holds and certainly a different avenue of Southern cuisine explored, something that Fat Boys and SmoQue Shack ignored.
Aside from merely delivering approachable late night grub, there is a vibe that resonates throughout Union. Whether it be the dimly lit room, Julian Garner’s impressive mural or the crooning of Mississippi soul pumping through the airwaves, (or maybe I had one too many bourbon cocktails that night. Those libations are delicious and deadly. Thank you Jeff), Union personifies “hip”. It actually might be Centretown’s key to getting its groove back. The place is constantly packed, with barely a vacant barstool in sight.
The men behind the scenes of Union have all, in very different ways, contributed significantly to the dining scene in Ottawa. It is for that reason that people want to see them succeed and will support their latest venture. The guys have put forth their mission statement as a, “…brotherhood of growers, cookers and eaters”. Though this statement unifies Centretown’s latest joint, I think the influential “union” at hand is the coming together of talent such as Lord, Gedz and Fantin. These guys know what it takes to shake our little city up a bit, while still being able to land on their feet.
So if you’re in the neighbourhood and don’t feel like jetting off to Hintonburg for a seriously groovy time, pop in to Union for a meal, a quick bite, some fantastic bourbon or a cold beer served up in a mason jar.
Did I mention I love my beer served in mason jars?
315 Somerset Street West