Where to begin… Union League Café served some of the most amazing classic French dishes I have had. I would go back ASAP for more!
We made a reservation for dinner right at 5PM. It was a cold, snowy early evening and we had time to kill after the play, so we went for a short appetite-building walk thru the New Haven green.
At 5:03PM we realized that we had been patiently waiting outside the wrong door, and returned to the front entrance for dinner. :-)
Service gets top marks. Our server was super professional, and at the same time warm and humorous. The Maitre D graciously stopped by to wish us a marvelous dinner, in a very French accent. I overheard him demand to taste the new dessert straight away- I liked his style.
Etta praised her sidecar, my aunt loved her tea, and I was happy to see a selection of mocktails in the Fresh Fruit category of the drinks menu. Winter is citrus season and both the blood orange and meyer lemon drinks were delicious.
The food started with beautiful fresh-baked bread and butter, as well as a small French pastry filled with cheese and potatoes. I have to find out the name of these- I was instantly hooked.
Oysters and clams were expertly shucked so that the shells were full to the brim with salt water liqueur. Raw bar shrimp were truly jumbo, flavorful, and the cocktail sauce hit just enough of a floral note to make it classic and unique at the same time.
I also had a fantastic salad of baby spinach and sharp Roquefort blue cheese, with toasted pecans and warm poached peaches. It was now that I began to see a pattern- every dish being brought to the table was being cleaned completely.
There’s no way that will continue through the entree course, I thought, not with these birds (Aunty Judy and Etta.). And yet cod brandade, steak bearnaise and lamb chops arrived and disappeared. This is French cuisine par excellence, and I couldn’t fault any of those mains or their garnishes.
We had preordered a chocolate soufflé for dessert. The big surprise was that Aunty and Etta ordered two more desserts as well! They cleaned their plates of profiteroles, petit fours and mignardises, sharing barely a bite, and the entire time remarking how they could not believe that I was eating an entire chocolate soufflé by myself.
I’m the big dog! I eat appetizer, entree and dessert every time I step foot in a restaurant. ULC cast a spell of powerfully delicious French cuisine executed at the highest level, bewitching Aunt Judy and Etta into believing they could run and bark with the big dog!
Union League Café is the most magical restaurant in the city of New Haven and I can’t wait to go back!