Charlie Morgenstern 11 a.m., June 25
Rainy Days and Sundays: Union Kitchen & Tap
We get about three days of rain in San Diego, so why do they all seem to happen on the weekend? I'm sure the artists and vendors at the Encinitas Fall Festival were thinking the same thing this past Sunday. The rain and wind finally drove us to look for a place to have a bite and something warm (or warming) to drink. Enter Union Kitchen & Tap, the busy, trendy eatery on South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas.
We didn't have reservations, and the wait was 30-45 minutes. No problem -- there's open seating in the large bar area, so we lurked until a couple of chairs opened up. The beer selection seems good, but we were told that the chalkboard was not up-to-date ("I guess they got tired of going up and down the ladder") and that several taps were out ("It was really busy last night".) Sigh.
After squinting at the remaining taps, we opt for coffee (self-serve at brunch, next to the entrance).
I love eggs, so I go with the Brioche Egg in a Hole ($13) and John orders Duck Hash with Eggs and Toast ($12). Mine was made with decent brioche from local St. Tropez Bakery, a nicely cooked egg, a ginormous piece of pork belly, and a light napping of chivey Hollandaise.
The pork belly was good, salty and dusted with five spice. The underlying egg and brioche could have used a bit of salt and pepper. Overall, it made me happy.
John's Duck Hash and Eggs was less successful.
I'm not a fan of deep frying potato chunks, mixing them with other stuff, and calling it hash. Hash should be made with boiled or steamed potatoes which are then fried in a pan or on the grill. The potatoes had obviously been pre-cooked and refrigerated -- there was a distinct not-fresh taste. There was a good amount of duck, red peppers, and onions throughout, but it was bit too sweet. Some judicious salting would have helped balance it. To make matters worse, John picked a two-inch-long shard of duck bone out of it.
The two bartenders did a great job of trying to keep up with the crowd but were hampered by a somewhat archaic approval system for Union's recent Living Social promotion.
Seems that each redemption requires a manager to come over, review your bill, have you fill out a little piece of paper, and then run it through the system. It didn't affect us, but the two young women next to us waited at least 20 minutes for the manager to make it over (she did express sincere apologies to them).
One or two annoyances don't bother me; we're all human. But being busy doesn't excuse a lack of attention. Bones in my food bother me, so do precooked dishes and outdated menus.
Union Kitchen & Tavern
1108 South Coast Highway 101
Hours: Lunch Service: Monday - Friday from 11am - 3p m
Dinner Service: Sunday - Thursday from 5pm - 10pm, Friday and Saturday 5p - 11p m
Social Hours: Monday - Friday from 3pm - 6pm.
Weekend Brunch served Saturday and Sunday from 9am - 3pm
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