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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Place With The Retractable Roof Throws An Awesome Party

The Place With The Retractable Roof Throws An Awesome Party

Union, the newest restaurant in Kaskaid Hospitality's ever-expanding Empire (which includes Crave, Urban Eatery, and Figlio), celebrated Saturday night with a luxurious invite-only party.

The restaurant appears ready to make a major splash in the dining scene. The all-star staff put together a multi-level event from the basement level Marquee Lounge bar cum nightclub (or is it the other way around, hard to tell), to the full service main level dining room, and the crowning glory: the rooftop restaurant and bar complete with retractable greenhouse style roof.

After a major renovation by Shea Architects (which now offices on the second floor), the building that once housed Shinder’s bookstore on Hennepin Avenue is hardly recognizable—dark neon in the basement bar, both comfortable and trendy on the main floor, and stunning on the roof.

Rising star Chef Jim Christiansen served a selection of appetizers, including lamb meatballs, squash croquettas, and a dazzling ice bar filled with raw and poached seafood. Union marks a first for Christiansen, a young veteran at 31—it's his first gig in over a decade outside of the sphere of his mentor Chef Tim Mckee, of La Belle Vie fame.

Johnny MichaelsMeanwhile, guests lined up to get drinks at the bar and to catch a glimpse of barman and author Johnny Michaels pouring his newest cocktails. Always an innovator, his new list features flavors ranging from a pomegranate-spiked martini to a garam masala spiced Rum Old Fashioned. Both of them tasty, both of them pure Johnny Michaels, a man who must be described as prolific, having created drinks for Icehouse, La Belle Vie, and Café Maude, among others.

If you did not make it to the fete, not to worry. Tired though they are after a blistering pre-opening schedule of parties and practice dinners, Chef Christansen assured me that the staff stands ready and prepped for a Monday (today!) opening.

Potential New Era in Twin Cities Dining?

For more than 15 years, Parasole restaurant group has been the benchmark for successful concept restaurants in the Twin Cities. Phil Roberts, at the Parasole helm, has been the resident Zen Master, creating a long string of hot restaurants from The Good Earth to Manny’s. While Parasole concepts still sizzle, there have been some chinks in the armor, most notably the “re-concepting” of Figlio into the ill-fated Il Gatto, which closed last year. In an ironic twist, Union chef Jim Christiansen was part of the team brought in by Parasole to save Il Gatto, in what turned out to be a good, if too-late, effort.

Meanwhile, the Union opening party punctuates an aggressive year for Kaskaid Hospitality, which also owns Crave, Urban Eatery, and Figlio. In a matter of months, they will have opened two major restaurants in downtown Minneapolis, Crave downtown and Union, and purchased Figlio, a former star concept from Parasole. Led by Kam Talebi, another charismatic restaurant figure, the fast-moving group seems to have accelerated into warp speed as the year comes to a close. Will Union become a company flagship, and perhaps, more importantly, will it be remembered as the concept that pushes Talebi into the forefront as the top player in town?

It is worth mentioning that Parsole also made a key acquisition last year in bringing on the Cities' most revered chef, Tim Mckee. Also worth mentioning, while the Figlio purchase could be considered a coup for Talebi, it came on the heels of an apparent failure for his empire in the closing of his just-opened Soprano’s restaurant.

Either way, it’s all gravy for customers, as Union promises to impress diners in both food and scope. Seriously, a retractable roof!


Posted on Monday, November 19, 2012 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Nov 29, 2012 12:23 am
 Posted by  Grand Master Brunnen

I am so going to this place,, like this friday!!! :)

Nov 29, 2012 12:30 am
 Posted by  Grand Master Brunnen


Dec 2, 2012 10:00 pm
 Posted by  bryan_b

Celebrating 20 years with my wife tonight at the restaurant rooftop. Server was good. But beef ribeye was served cold after our server came over then the manager came over to say our food was coming.

Server that brought our food to the table asked me taste the food to see if the temperature was ok while he waited. I waved him off because I didn't want him staring at me, but he knew it was COLD. It should have never been served in the first place. How could you get something so simple so wrong when there was hardly anyone in the place tonight?

It was so overpriced too. I have never paid so much for so little meat even in cities like New York.

VERY disappointed in our experience tonight. Ruined our night. I WILL NOT BE BACK.

Dec 23, 2012 05:39 pm
 Posted by  servicesnob

I have been to Union a number of times now and cannot say enough about every aspect of my visits- from the hosts and their friendliness (they offered to take our coats to coat check and give our valet ticket to the valet), to the servers (poised and competent), to the food!!! The staff seems seasoned and knowledgeable (and I have been in the hospitality industry for over a decade) and I can't wait till spring when I can dine (and drink!) outside on the rooftop!!!

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TC Taste answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally bring the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Minnesota Monthly Senior Editor Rachel Hutton, Sustainable Food Correspondent Marie Flanagan, Home Cook Stephanie Meyer, Chef Jason Ross, Savvy Mom Kristin Boldon, Food Writer Joy Summers, and Drinks & Real Food Senior Editor Mary Subialka. Learn more about the TC Taste bloggers.

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