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  • Welcome! My name is Kelly, and I am a picky eater. On this blog I share recipes, new (to me) foods, restaurants, and products that I try in an effort to expand my tastes. You might also find me talking about my pug Olive, Miss Kitty, Project Life, my journey with running, and more! Feel free to contact me: [email protected]

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Restaurant Review: Union

**Unfortunately as of Summer 2012, this restaurant is now closed**

Full Disclosure:  I paid for this meal with my own money.  I was not reimbursed in any way for this blog post.  The opinions are completely my own.

For our last night in Vegas, my boss and I decided to go all out on dinner.  We didn’t see any shows, as we sometimes do, and we had worked two long solid days, so we decided that we deserved it.  She left it up to me to decided what was for dinner because its no secret that I’m the pickiest person I know.

When I began to look for restaurants, I remembered the the new City Center complex had recently opened and it was supposed to be quite the sight – multiple hotels, casinos, shopping and tons of food choices.  I found a place that looked good, called for reservations, and it turned out they were closed that night for a private party.  Crud.  The man on the phone suggested a couple of the other restaurants in the area and I decided to just go with one of them.  This is very unlike me.  I usually scout out menus way ahead of time to make sure that there is something that I could at least modify to make work.  This particular place was labeled as “Contemporary American Fare” and at that point in the day, that was good enough for me.

So, we got in a cab, and headed to Union at the Aria hotel – part of City Center.

On the way, the cab driver was pretty entertaining with random facts about the City Center – including the fact that this 76 acre complex actually has its own zip code!

When we arrived at the Aria, the architecture was overwhelmingly amazing.  Tall structures, waterfalls and fountains, edgy modern decor and classy style.

On our way through the casino to the restaurant, we ran across these awesome pieces of art.

Walken

They were portraits of Christopher Walken done by Julian Schnabel.  There was, I think, 7 or 8 of them lined up – about 4’x3′  They were really awesome.  Walken is such a character on his own, and Schnabel makes him even more interesting.  When I was reading more about City Center I found out that it houses one of the largest – and most valuable – art collections in the United States.  Now I wish I had explored that more.

We arrived at Union without much hassle, and were immediately seated.  The thing about most restaurants in Vegas is that its very hard to tell how fancy they actually are until you see the menu.  There is generally not any kind of dress code unless it is a 5 star fancy place – but since most of the restaurants are in the casinos you see a wide range of people.

When we opened the menu, we saw it was a little more pricey than expected (the kind where everything is a la carte) but we knew we were gonna splurge so we just went with it.  I ordered a glass of Merlot and perused the menu.  I don’t remember what kind of Merlot it was, but I wish I did because it was really good!

Merlot

Our original thought was that we would have steak, but then we added up the price of an entree plus a side or two and the price went up quickly with each addition. We were both kind of intrigued by the tasting menu.  It seemed like a good deal for the amount of food you got, but we just weren’t sure.

The waiter then came out and went over the menu with us, and explained the tasting menu a bit more…….we were sold.  It was definitely a great deal for the price, and we were in Vegas, so we might as well splurge on something!

I was honestly scared of some of the items on the menu.

As the first course came out…..I was intrigued.   It looked like a spring roll.  And that is what I told myself.  Chicken Spring roll.  But its not chicken, its duck.  But it tastes like Chicken right?

Duck

It didn’t taste like chicken.  Not quite as moist….but the same texture.  I didn’t love the duck, but it wasn’t bad.  I ate about half.

For the second course, we had to choose between Jalapeño Crab Tacos or Beef Carpaccio Flatbread.  We each chose a different one so that we could sample the other.

I have to say, these were the things I was the most surprised that I liked.  The flavors were amazing.

Tacos

First of all, can we talk about how cute the tacos are? To give you a better idea of the size, the little slice of tomato on the top is about the size of a penny.  And they tasted good as well! The flavor was really interesting. Lime and crab…not spicy at all like I thought the jalapeño would be.  Is that normal for jalapeño not to be spicy?  I was always under the impression that it was synonymous with spicy, but maybe I’m wrong.  Or maybe I just didn’t get any in the bites that I had?

Lets talk about the flatbread.

Flatbread

I had know idea what beef carpaccio was.  I probably should have just gone on not knowing what it really is and just knowing that I like how it tastes.  I had to know….so I looked it up.  Turns out, it is thinly sliced RAW beef.  Seriously?  I ate raw beef.  Well, its probably a good thing I didn’t know what it was ahead of time!  Now I wish I didn’t know what it was that I ate, because really, it tasted so good!  The flatbread was very crispy, like a thin cracker, and it was topped with the tiniest microgreens I’ve seen.  It didn’t really even taste beefy at all to me.

For the next course we had a choice between green bean and shrimp salad or tomato soup.  Again, we each got one of each – but since the shrimp salad had bacon in it,  I chose not to try it.  However, the tomato soup that I had was amazing.  It was so rich and almost cheesy tasting.  Ok, it was definitely cheesy tasting because there was definitely a dollop of ricotta or some other kind of soft cheese on top of the soup.  I definitely could have eaten a whole bowl of it.

Soup

Then it was time for the main course.  Porterhouse steak and lobster.  Holy yum.  The steak was perfectly done with crispy edges and smooth juicy insides.  And the lobster.  Well, really how can you do wrong with lobster?  Light and with a little squeeze of lemon juice, it was perfect.

Steak

Also included with the entree were sides of pureed potatoes and fancy macaroni and cheese.

Mac N Cheese

Potato Puree

We sure were stuffed after that meal.

And then we remembered dessert.  How could we forget?!?

Dessert

The dessert sampler was ridiculous.  It included churros, banana bread topped with ice cream, chocolate covered ice cream pop,

Ice Pop

and a mini strawberry ice  cream cone.

Strawberry Cone

One plate full for each of us.  Unfortunately we were so full from the rest of the food, that we barely made a dent in our desserts.  Boy were they good though.

So, overall the meal was a huge success.  We treated ourselves to a fancy dinner, and it was worth every penny.  All of the waitstaff were very friendly, my water glass was never empty, and all of the food came in a timely fashion.  I have no complaints.  It was the best meal experience I’ve had in a long time.

Taste: A+, even the items that I thought I wouldn’t like were tasty, and the things I was looking forward to eating were as good as I could imagine.
Cost: B+, I’ll be honest and tell you that I didn’t pay for my meal so I may not be a good judge on this.  I do know what the price was on the menu though, and I really do believe that the amount and quality of food that we got for that price was great.  It was expensive, but well worth it in my opinion.

Would I go there again? Its hard to say.  Since there are SO many restaurants in Las Vegas, I have a hard time thinking I wouldn’t choose somewhere else to go it I had the chance.  However, I would definitely recommend  it to anyone looking for somewhere classy and fun to go eat.

Union Restaurant & Lounge (Aria) on Urbanspoon

So I’m loving my new camera, but I’m still getting used to it.  The yellowness of most of these photos is kind of annoying me.  I know some indoor lighting situations are tricky to deal with, but does anyone have any tips?  Either while shooting or in editing.  Thanks in advance!

One Response

  1. those crab tacos sound fabulous, and yes, you pretty much cannot go wrong with lobster…

    I would have LOVED to see the Julian Schnabel pieces… I love Walken!

    :)

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