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Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar Excites Bruno; The Bedford Plays it Too Safe for Kramer and Sula

Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar
Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar
Photo: Timothy Hiatt Photography

Pat Bruno found the flavors at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar to be "flying high." The Brussels sprouts are "not your mother's sprouts" with oyster mushrooms and a dab of pesto and lemon, which Bruno finds "very innovative." He appreciates the "thrill of the grill" with the barbequed skewers, especially the prosciutto-wrapped scallop that is dressed up "with a sweet plum sauce, an avocado-wasabi puree and fried ginger," and gives "layer on layer of flavor." He believes "Chef Chao is a fine chef, one who deserves to be recognized more fully." As for the sushi, he thinks the "Old City Market Roll" is "soul-inspiring delicious," but isn't as keen on the rainbow roll where the "texture of the stuffing was a bit offputting." He greatly enjoys ending his meal with the “killer yuzu pie” which is "an instant put-away." "If you like a scene with your cuisine, then Union has it dialed in." [Sun Times]

Julia Kramer isn't sure that The Bedford wants to be a restaurant. The dining space, to her, "feels cavernous" but the bank vault area "is the spot where you want to hang out: It’s intimate where the rest of the place feels exposed, coherent in its separation from the other few thousand square feet of confusion." The cocktail list seems "oddly short" to Kramer with only four choices but she truly enjoys the Cucumber Cooler, "a perfectly refreshing, well-balanced summer drink." Although the food is "impressively seasonal" the menu is "across-the-board unimpressive." The halibut is "perfectly cooked" but "boring" and the scallops are "well-executed" but also "very expected." She does, however, find the chicken to be "intriguing." Unfortunately there are some clear misses with the "heavy rocks of gnocchi" and the "mealy mussels." Overall she thinks the outsourced desserts, small cocktail list and safe menu exhibits a "now familiar reluctance on the Bedford’s part to take a risk." [TOC]

Mike Sula agrees with Kramer on the cocktail list and some of the "safe" choices on the menu at The Bedford.
Sula is a little confused by some of the midwestern dishes that don't appear to be "particularly midwestern" like the "harissa vinaigrette that dresses the fava bean crostini on overwhelmed slices of Red Hen bread" and the "pedestrian bar food." Sula finds that chef Mark Steuer and his team produce "powerfully memorable flavors" in their larger, more interesting plates. He thinks the beer-braised rabbit special is "a ballsy balancing act of gaminess and acidity" and unlike Kramer, seems to really enjoy the halibut. He does have issues with some of the "textural" aspects of the dishes, like with the venison sausage which is "surprisingly juicy...yet flaccidly understuffed in a wet bag of casing." Like Kramer, he finds there to be many "predictable inclusions" but "maybe that's all an attempt to appeal to too broad a swath of so-called midwesterners" and as the cliches say, "we're sort of safe and boring." [Reader]

The Bedford

1612 W Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 773 235 8800 Visit Website

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