So we went Union Local 613 last night with a few friends. What better day to go than a rainy Friday night – no patios today. We have been there a few times before and I always found the the vibe was really cool and unique with their communal seating. We showed up looking for a table for 6 without a reservation on a Friday evening but the servers were super awesome and got us a table in their main dining area. Our luck hasn’t run out because they gave us an even better offer to go “downstairs”. For those of you who haven’t been downstairs of Union 613, it is a “speakeasy” hidden behind a “book shelf”. Apparently, previously, you will need to pull out a certain book to trigger the door to open. Now, you simply need to pull the entire shelf and it opens or at times, the door was just wide open. We think the problem was people go stuck outside when they decided to take washroom breaks. What a shame! It’ll be nice to have the mysterious factor back. Despite that, the decor is still impressive. The lighting was dim and there were slits of light coming through the ceiling to really give the speakeasy effect. Our table was small but that again fits with the whole theme.
First things first, one of the unique factors of Union 613 are their drinks! I tried their version of sangria whereas Aaron tried their Viva la Revolucione (AKA rum and coke). As soon as I took a sip of the sangria I noticed quite a kick. I then realized it must have been the ginger syrup. As someone who was not a big fan of ginger, I was not too keen on that taste but for those of you who would like to try something a little different, you can try this. Aaron’s Viva la Revolucione was as fancy as it sounds. It is definitely not your regular rum and coke.
As always at Union 613, our meal started with boiled salty peanuts as we waited for our mains. In the past, I remember ordering a bunch of sides to share so I decided to actual try their mains this time and what a nice surprise. I had the southern fried chicken with slaw. The chicken was nicely fried and did not feel too greasy. I was content, but not amazed. I then tried it with their vinegar-chill-sauce and immediately was a huge fan. It matched perfectly with the chicken. The slaw was decent. I am not a huge fan of food on the sour side, which of course slaws are. For my side, I chose the grits (described to me as a risotto and mac and cheese hybrid – I was sold immediately). It was actually hominy (which are dried and treated corn grain in the process called nixtamalization – Wikipedia FTW) with a layer of cheddar & roasted garlic on top. Delish. Compared to risotto or mac and cheese, though, I didn’t feel that the corn soaked up the taste of the sauce as well. It was more like lentil, which, already has its own taste and is too busy to absorb other tastes. I also tried Aaron’s cornbread served in a cute cast-iron pan. It was deadly given it tasted like it was 50% butter. At the end of the meal we had another great find as we all shared a bottle of Ninkasi from The Wild Beer Co. On the label was “Bubbles + Apples + Wild Beer”. It was definitely a very fruity beer with a hint of champagne. Very refreshing. Overall, it was a great night with great company, some nice comfort food, a unique atmosphere and exciting new drinks. If you want a one-of-a-kind experience, I would recommend Union 613.