The Union Square Cafe is consistently ranked New York City's favorite restaurant by the Zagat
survey. Why? Superb yet relaxed food served in a setting both deluxe and friendly. Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe
, the follow-up to the restaurant's proprietor Danny Meyer and chef-co-owner Michael Romano's Union Square Cafe Cookbook
, offers readers 140 recipes for Union Square's popular fare--Italian-inflected "everyday" cooking taken to a higher, yummier, but completely cook-friendly power. Dishes like Butternut Squash and Bean Soup, Roasted Halibut Pugliese-Style, and Zucchini Purée with Marjoram exemplify the book's unique approach; simple in conception and easy to execute, they nonetheless pack flavor and style to burn.
Chapters cover appetizers to desserts, with sections devoted to pasta and risotto and to side dishes and condiments, such as the restaurant's much-loved Olive Mashed Potatoes and Apple-Pear Chutney. Sweets like Butterscotch Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce and Chocolate Pudding Flan should also keep diners happy. A word must be said about the photographs of Duane Michals, whose signature storytelling style (depicting, for example, a seated couple's response to a cell-phone-using table neighbor) wonderfully echoes the sweetly knowing tone of the restaurant itself. With a section on basic preparations, the book should become a trusted kitchen friend. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
In the follow-up to the original Union Square Cafe Cookbook (which won a Julia Child Award for first book), Meyer and Romano offer more pleasant fare from the landmark New York restaurant where they are owner and chef, respectively. Many of these dishes are new interpretations that use classic Italian ingredients: Cornmeal-Crusted Ricotta Fritters are served with an anchovy dressing, and Frise Salad with Bottarga and Grapefruit makes piquant use of Italy's pressed fish roe. Some non-Italian flavors infiltrate here and there as well: Chili and Sage-Rubbed Salmon is Southwestern in style, while Sauted Shrimp Goan Style relies on cinnamon, cumin and other spices from India. Recipes which are divided into traditional chapters such as Appetizers and Main Courses are split approximately down the middle between complex projects that require a good deal of time in the kitchen (e.g., Zucchini Fazzoletti, homemade pasta with a pureed zucchini sauce) and relatively simple preparations (like Roasted Cauliflower with Tomato and Green Olives). Desserts like Fig and Walnut Crostata and Blueberry-Lemon Meringue Pie are appropriately rustic-modern, and wine suggestions for each dish are a nice touch. These recipes aren't filled with hard-to-find, exotic ingredients (aside from bottarga, which has cameos in a few), nor do offerings such as Michael's Garlic-Lemon Steak or Striped Bass with Tomato-Caper Sauce jolt the palate with surprising new sensations. The phenomenal, ongoing success of the Union Square Cafe itself proves just how appealing even simple and familiar foods can be when prepared with high-quality ingredients and adapted to American sensibilities. Duane Michaels provides b&w photos that narrate peculiar stories of hypothetical dining experiences in the restaurant.
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