A Canadian take on Southern hospitality.

Weekend Brunch at Union: Local 613
Weekend Brunch at Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Dessert at Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Cocktails at Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Union: Local 613
Foods from Union: Local 613
Comments

2012 Nov 29
Had lunch with a few girlfriends today. Lovely décor, they did a great job! My stool was a little hard and wobbly though. That is the only negative note. Service was excellent and the selection very interesting.

I had the mac n cheese with corn, caramelized onions and corn bread and the fried green tomatoes was side. My friends had the homemade drinks: ginger beer, ice tea and a hisbicus soda. They all really liked it.

Will definitely be back!

2012 Nov 29
Had a perfect lunch here today as expected, but for those of you who were not fans of the old bar stools, they have replaced them with new stools that do in fact have backs on them.

2012 Nov 28
I had decided that the next time I visited Ottawa I was going to grab my wife and head over to Union 613 to find out what the Buzz was about.

We ended up making a reservation for 6pm on Saturday night and we took my mother along for the ride. What a wonderful evening and a great dinner. When you arrive and step through the front door you realize that this is going to be an experience not just a meal and it was a great experience.
The restaurant is cool without trying and the atmosphere is relaxed / contagious even though it was early and three quarters empty. Within 45 minutes it was full and the bar was filling up with a lively crowd. The tables, lighting, chairs, cutlery and music are eclectic and really worked well together. I liked the family style diner tables; why not sit beside somebody new and make a friend.

Okay, now for the food; Awesome. I started with the Fried Green Tomatoes followed by the main dish of Yardbird, the chefs take on fried chicken and I had the Brussels sprouts as a side. I have to tell you, my mother used to call me Brussels sprouts as a little kid because I loved them so much. I now have a new side dish. I asked one of the owners, Ivan, if I could ask the Chef, another owner, Chris, how he did the Sprouts and after diner Ivan took me into the kitchen quickly and Chris gave me a very quick rundown on the recipe. I’ll have to experiment with a batch of sprouts this weekend. Desert was the Fluffernutter - french toast stix. If you like Fluff, Nutter and Peanut butter try this… Silly good.

Oh, try the Whiskey sour, very good. And enjoy

2012 Nov 22
My first visit to Union: Local 613 played to mixed reviews.

I'll start with the setting. The room was full and clearly lots of people were having fun, which can be contagious, but noisy. Combine this with the communal seating (a particular pet peeve of mine - I like to choose my dinner companions), and I would say that this could be a good choice for a group gathering, but not for date night or serious conversation. Fair enough, there are occasions that call for such a setting. Our group size (six) allowed us to have a table to ourselves, so the communal seating was not an issue on this visit.

The wine list is short and pedestrian, but we made do. The beverage claims to fame are bourbon and specialty cocktails, which none of us tried, and home made sodas that were judged "different, but good". I did notice that nobody ordered seconds, and those not drinking wine switched to water after one soda, so they may have just been polite in their reviews.

On to the food. I gather that the theme is supposed to be southern, and some of the menu options reflect that - the fried green tomatoes, which garnered rave reviews at our table, and the catfish which none of us ordered but I gather from other reviews is very good. I was hoping to try the rabbit and shrimp gumbo that I had heard so much about, but it was not on the menu that night. Several of us had the smoked trout salad to start - not particularly southern, but quite good. For mains, we tried several items. The best of the lot was probably the eggplant and tomato casserole - very flavourful. The worst of them was without question the mackerel stuffed with pork barbecue. Mackerel is not a southern fish, and stuffing it with pork is just plain weird. The flavour combination does not work at all, and it was mushy - nearly enough so as to be inedible. The others - steak, pork special and fried yard bird - were okay but nobody raved.

The hit of the evening was the side of grits. Two orders were devoured at our table. The corn bread was good, although both of our orders were burned on the bottom so you had to be careful to leave that part behind as you served yourself from the skillet. The veggies were good, not over cooked.

The only dessert ordered at our table was the fluffernutter. Can't say I get what the fuss is about. Not worth the calories.

Service was very attentive and friendly.

Bottom line, if you asked our guest who had fried green tomatoes, grits and the eggplant casserole, it was fabulous. If you asked the guest who had the stuffed mackerel, it was awful. Everyone else enjoyed some, but not all, that they tasted. As I said, mixed reviews.

2012 Nov 19
Second trip to Union on Friday night - we got the nice booth on the left hand side after the bar. Awesome cozy little spot.

What I love about this restaurant:

-Atmosphere (although they jack up the music around 10:00 so that was time for this oldie to go home - LOL)
-Drinks - first time I had the one with the Botanist Gin - doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore - was delish
This time I had to go for the Dark and Stormy - this is a must try. Flavours are addictive.
-Had the Pinot noir again this time. No complaints there.

Food:

I am not sure why, but both times I have been overwhelmed by the sides, and underwhelmed by the mains.

First time I had yard bird - the skin/coating just all fell off the second I picked it up and then you are just left with kinda dry white meat?

Hubby had the brisket and we both loved it. Hit of the meal.

This time I had the mackeral stuffed with pulled pork. It sounded amazing, but this just wasn't a good flavour combo for me. The fish was kinda dry and the pork didn't have a ton of flavour so the whole thing kind of fell flat.

Hubby had the yard bird and found it flavourless. We won't order that again.

Someone at our table ordered the special which was a pork t-bone with blue cheese. He said it was fabulous.

Sides: A whole other story - the grits are creamy and rich, the cornbread is warm and spicy and buttery. This time we tried the carrot salad with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. Big pieces of still crunchy partially roasted carrots. I thought this was delicious but there is alot of cumin in it, so if you don't like cumin it's not for you.

We also shared the devilled eggs to start. Really good - everything is better with bacon :)

No room for dessert this time but since I wanted something sweet I tried the home made Bailey's with Bourbon. To Die For. Try it....soon!

We will go back and maybe just do drinks and a bunch of sides as this for me is their strength.

2012 Nov 11
Union has set a monthly cocktail menu and their mixing just keeps getting better.

Pictured at right is hands down the best Dark and Stormy in the city, but I'm guessing you'd have to travel quite a bit farther to get something that rivals this liquid beauty. Their ginger syrup is made with the pulp of fresh ginger, mint and fresh chiles which gave the cocktail a welcome kick. Combine with Goslings Black Seal rum, falernum, lime bitters and a wedge of fresh lime, and you have nothing less than perfection in a glass.

Another highlight savoured was the 'Colleen Bawn' mixed with Bakers 7yo bourbon, yellow chartreuese, benedictine, gum syrup, egg white and garnished with grated nutmeg. While the Dark and Stormy is my idea of comfort in a glass, this was a close second but truthfully the whole menu looks amazing and only makes me wish I could find the time this month to sample it all.

2012 Nov 11
Late night munchies? Union's Dirty Burger to the rescue! This is a hamburger patty nestled on their heavenly cornbread topped with caramelized onions, cheese, lettuce and a generous drizzle of in-house thousand islands dressing.

A lip-smacking delight and almost good enough to make you wish you were twenty and stoned (again?) ;o)

2012 Nov 9
Also went last night, first time. Had a reservation for 6:30 and it was already pretty packed. I'm sure the communal seating would be a little uncomfortable if you were seated next to someone smelly and/or obnoxiously drunk but the diners beside my party were lovely, and we even got to chatting/compared what we had ordered.

Our server George was extremely pleasant, attentive but not overbearing, helpful with questions, etc. It seemed that one of the owners was circulating/helping out and I heard him explain that they're the only place north of the border that's serving newport steak (an American thing). It was pretty loud, to the point of having to lean in/repeat a few things but that's really the only negative thing I can say about this place.

I ordered their whiskey sour and though it was a bit expensive (14$ or so) you can see how much effort/quality of ingredients they put into their drinks. Very tasty, but also heavy-handed on the booze. Not a bad thing.

The salty peanuts take some getting used to.. until you realize you've eaten 3/4 of the bowl. The paper towels are there for a reason, they're messy. I had 2 pieces of yardbird and cornbread. The pieces are huge, I only ate one and took one home. The coating is crispy and delicious but the white meat was a little dryer than I expected it to be. The cornbread was big enough for two and delicious, so moist and not at all grainy like some cornbread can be. Others I was with had the newport steak and pork loin and both were highly enjoyed. I tried the cheesey garlic grits and I could bathe in these.. they're like a garlic lover's decadent mac n' cheese. We shared the fluffernutter and the lime/dark chocolate beignet. The brioche has to be tried to be believed, and the combination of lime, chocolate and chili was definitely strange on paper but delicious.

I can't wait to go again.

2012 Nov 9
It is a shame the seats are so uncomfortable. We would dine here regular if it was not for those terrible bar stools.

2012 Nov 9
Went last night and really enjoyed my meal. Being vegetarian (was dining with 2 non-veg), I was worried there wouldn't be anything for me to eat. There are a handful of veg sides and there was a veg main, so I didn't have to worry.

I had the crispy kale & beet salad. This didn't really work. The kale was really crispy (and tasty), the beets were very soft, big chunks of goat cheese, plus some grapefruit and I think radish slices. The textures did not work together and it was impossible to eat with a fork. The kale would disintegrate into tiny shards when you tried. I ended up eating the kale separately from the rest of the salad. The flavours were good, but I wouldn't order this again since it was too difficult to eat.

We shared a bunch of the sides - cheesy grits (so delicious. How do they get the grits so big?), cornbread (excellent, not salty, but very filling), coleslaw (yummy) and the trout salad (not for me, but they liked it).

I had the Hibiscus Rum punch cocktail. I really like Hibiscus drinks and this is good, but sweet and boozy. I had a glass of white wine with dinner. I appreciate the weighted pour, because I often find when they wing it with wide glasses, they under-fill.

The boiled peanuts were fine, but the salt on them stung my fingers.

For dessert we shared the buttermilk pie - so delicious! The crust was amazing, like a flakey, shortbread type crust. Really good.

We sat at the bar, and the bar tender recognized us (and we him) from the Hintonburg Public House. He was really nice and friendly. I think I prefer the bar seating to the communal tables, though the bar stools are awful as others have found.

At certain points the music got really loud which made it hard to talk, but that is my only complaint.

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2012 Sep 13
The cocktail list changes weekly and it consistently delivers inspiring implementations of classic and modern drinks.

Pictured here is the "Gin Auld Fashioned" from this week, involving Botanist gin, housemade Earl Grey syrup, orange blossom water, and Spanish bitters. It was so good that I went out and bought a bottle of Botanist gin soon after. Drinking here isn't just a pleasure -- it's an educational lifestyle enhancer! ;-)


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2012 Nov 2
Ottawa has a limited selection of dessert places, so Union: Local 613 fills an important niche with its late night service hours and excellent desserts.

Delizioso, I also had the fluffernutter dessert on my last visit but I was underwhelmed to the point of not even mentioning it in my comments here. It was clever to be sure, but no more pleasurable to my senses than an actual PBJ/fluffer sandwich would have been. Just thought I'd add a counter-opinion to the glowing ones here, for balance. :-)

I absolutely *loved* the cheesecake parfait here. Definitely one of the best desserts I've had anywhere.

2012 Nov 2
FLUFFERNUTTER!! Best thing, I've ever eaten. The food, drinks, and service were great as everyone else has mentioned but the dessert was the high point by far. I would go back and just order this dessert. I cannot say it enough, BEST DESSERT EVER....Maybe even best dish EVER!!!

Cardamom describes it accurately, so I won't repost the description. But it's a must try dish for sure.

2012 Sep 26
Pretzel shaped beignet with lime glaze, dark chocolate sauce, sea salt and chile bits. Suzie Q who?

I heart Union. Right now the plan is to order 3 of these next time around, one as an app, one as a main and one for dessert, naturally ;o)

2012 Sep 22
After previously stating that I'm not overly keen on the desserts here, it looks like I might have to change my tune. A girlfriend and I shared their new fluffernutter dessert last night (peanut butter mousse, marshmallow fluff, brioche french toast sticks and Concord grape jelly) and seriously went speechless after the first bite. It was so perfect. I haven't felt this way about a new dish around town since Art-is-in's fried pickle melt :) It just hits all the right notes and is delicious and inventive without being at all pretentious: salty/sweet, melting softness/crunchy peanut, comfort food goodness/pig-shaped jelly... you know, all the usual stuff you'd expect from a great dessert. Anyways, try this one. I need to go back to try their new peach and buttermilk tart.

Also, thanks FF for the gin old fashioned tip. That was one enjoyable drink. The Earl Grey simple syrup was a subtle twist that really worked. I had another great drink there a couple of weeks ago with ginger syrup and basil, but that one was on the sweeter side.




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Jun 30
Fried egg on fish cake with spinach salad and home fries.

2015 Feb 6
butwhoami, their hours are on the website (click Brunch and scroll to the bottom) -- weekends only. As I said, no lineups yet. We called ten minutes before and they told us to just come on in!

2015 Feb 6
That looks so good, need to try it-- do you know what time it's served from/until? Easy/hard to get a seat? And only Saturday and Sunday?

2015 Jan 29
The kids were at simultaneous play dates last Saturday, so wifey and I jumped at the chance to try the new brunch at Union.

Union still has all its charm! Awesome staff, excellent food, reasonable prices, and chairs that keep you shifting so your butt doesn't go numb.

I had the "fried chicken and waffle, sandwich, sunny-side egg, pickled green tomato, spicy maple syrup, iceberg, homefries". This was very well executed and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Not really a sandwich in any sense but loaded with homefries (hidden in the background of the pic). A steal at $13, especially compared to other offerings around town.

My wife enjoyed her smoked pork back ribs with scrambled eggs. Her orange spiked sparkling wine cocktail was good too -- true to the dry bubbly, with just a hint of orange. The comically flat mason jar in which it was served was the ultimate antiestablishmentarian champagne flute.

The brewed coffee was good. Don't expect any hoity-toity lattes or cappuccinos here. Our server's eyes were rock solid when I asked, but I swear they were rolling on the inside.

Other plates going by looked great. Worth checking out on a weekend if you like brunchy things. No lineups yet!