Union: Amazing dining from the top of the town

Hennepin's newest multilevel hotspot has outstanding cocktails, thoughtful food, and a lively vibe

Standout entrees included the super-moist and delicate trout with watercress, smoked ham, and crispy artichokes (available at both levels) and the duck breast cooked to a beautiful medium rare, with a thin layer of delectable fat capped by brilliantly crispy skin. The menu must still be in flux because, compared to the dish described on the menu, what actually got put in front of me had many unlisted components, and I was pleased to see that it was a bit riskier in reality than in theory. The duck was served with a malleable sheet of sesame seeds that was very much like nori, along with black-eyed peas, whole-grain mustard, and a fragrant pear puree. It was well balanced, and the meat was exceptionally well cooked, with loads of natural flavor.

On the other end of the spectrum, the rib eye left something to be desired. Generally when you get a big, bold cut of beef like a rib eye, it's bone-in, so you expect to do some carving. You don't expect to do it when you get a boneless cut, but this one had a lot of gristle, which is a real blow when you've spent 28 bucks on an entree. The preparation was otherwise smart, favoring earthy flavors of beets, dark greens, and porcini mushrooms instead of heavy carbs, while still adding the flourish of bearnaise. I also took issue with the scallops, which were themselves very well cooked, but the cold shaved cauliflower salad underneath was unappealing and gloopy with cheese, which overtook the delicate texture of the scallops. The burger was underwhelming and clearly just there as a moderately priced entree for more casual diners. Personally I would recommend taking your $14 and finding Neato's Burgers food truck. You'll get much further and get much more flavor.

As we waited for our table in the rooftop area, I couldn't help but feel like I was always in someone's way, no matter where I was, which is why I generally don't frequent downtown bars unless it's work-related. "You'll think of this later as 'that New York feel,'" a server told me as I backed myself up into a big fake plant to make way for the party getting seated before us. "But that's why I live here instead," I murmured. Well, that and the fact that you can usually find a public bathroom when you need one and you don't have to take a third job to make rent. My point is, plenty of people like to go out and feel immersed in a "scene," and when the mood is right, so do I, but for now, Union is just a little too hot for me, which probably means great things for their business. I'd go back for a weeknight date or to sit at the main-level bar and get a That's That! (a green-cardamom-infused gin, lime, and absinthe cocktail) and some savory doughnut holes (bacon-and-shallot fried dough with a cheese fondue), which are an uber-popular order from Union's snack menu. One thing is absolutely indisputable: The views from the top are great, and that's probably how Union feels about its place in the local scene about now.

Dining at Union's gorgeous all-season patio is a bit more casual than in the main room
Alma Guzman
Dining at Union's gorgeous all-season patio is a bit more casual than in the main room

See more photos from Union in Minneapolis

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