Union Bar & Kitchen

Salmon tartare (Photo credit: Adeline Ramos)

International flavors unite with chef Jonathan Renert's personal Bordeaux stash

By Erik Mathes

The word “union” couldn’t be a better descriptor of the magic happening behind the UBK-emblazoned French doors that line the front of this airy Spring Street space. Owner and executive chef Jonathan Renert’s life has been divided into many phases, and Union Bar and Kitchen brings together all the different forms of inspiration he’s taken in, from the affinity for Mexican food he developed growing up near San Diego, to a stint at a French Culinary School in NYC, to the profound impact living in Japan had on him, teaching him to love—not to mention use—miso, wasabi, and soy.

Naturally, the menu includes dishes where his Far East influences come into play, such as panko-fried oysters on the half shell with chile-infused tonkatsu sauce, or Oba’s chicken, Japanese-style fried boneless chicken thighs, served with just a wedge of lemon because it’s already bursting with umami. The chef’s fondness for Mexican food comes out especially fuerte on UBK’s small-plate-centric brunch menu, where his Mission Beach breakfast burrito, Eggs Atlantic—a Benedict with smoked salmon and chipotle Hollandaise—and jalapeño home fries reign supreme.

Then there are dishes that unite all of Renert’s favorite cuisines on one plate. His salmon tartare is composed of fresh, raw salmon, minced Thai bird chiles and onions, wasabi, black and white sesame seeds, capers and chopped chives doing a delicate dance with citrus vinaigrette and house-made flour tortilla chips. And each of his trio of pork belly sliders, a.k.a. “Three Little Pigs,” are dressed up in its own edible outfit, from pickled beets, braised fennel, arugula, and mustard-tarragon sauce, to one slathered in sweet barbecue sauce, chili-avocado slaw, and fresh jalapeño.

Renert the chef is bent on using the freshest ingredients he can find and painstakingly preparing plates both large and small, low-key and LOUD, while Renert the owner believes the dining room should feel casual and unpretentious enough for all kinds of people. Whether you came with a group of co-workers to slurp raw oysters and get rowdy during happy hour, or on a celebratory date where you order a $150 bottle of Renert’s favorite Bordeaux, UBK is the kind of place that will win you over fast and turn you into a regular.

hours

Sun 11AM–midnight; Mon–Thu 11:30 AM–midnight; Friday 11:30 AM–1 AM; Sat 11 AM–1 AM

price range

$15 (UBK sirloin burger) to $32 (steak au poivre)
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