Thursday, March 8, 2012

Union Bear Dallas, a review

About once a quarter, I am tasked with finding a new jaunt for our teambuilding dinners. I'm ever so grateful that we have these team dinners because it gives us all an opportunity to step back, take a deep breath, cut up with laughter, and revel in our accomplishments. Much of the past year, we've been all hands on deck, wheels off. I'm proud to work with the group of folks I work with. They are hands down the smartest, most ambitious, and genuine bunch of people I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with.

Knowing all of that, you can imagine that this raucous bunch like good food and good beer. We'd hit up other establishments near where we work, but this time, I wanted us to break the trend and try something new. After doing a quick search on The Google, I stumbled upon Union Bear. At first glance, it seemed to fit the criteria:

good food + good beer + cocktails other than beer (for yours truly) + good location

The website had an inviting feel. I looked over the food items and my mouth was salivating. So many wonderful choices and I was intrigued. When I sent over the beer menu for first string approval prior to sending it out to the rest of the group, it got a thumbs up.



At just over a mile from our office, it was a comfortable enough distance that our visiting New York colleague would have no difficulty walking back to his hotel if necessary. Worst case scenario, he could enjoy the Uptown trolley. Parking was a breeze. Finding the place proved only slightly difficult for some. The sign out front is unassuming. In other words, it is easy for you to miss the sign if you are easily distracted by the movie posters over at The Magnolia.

When you walk in, the place looks relatively cozy and hip. The whole thing had a familiarity that I couldn't quite put my thumb on. I would later learn that the owners of Oddfellows and Eno's also owned this establishment. After learning of that happy coincidence, I knew I was in for a great time. Simultaneously, the bar was raised significantly higher as a result. I'd called a few days early to make our reservation. Upon arriving, our host escorted us downstairs all the way back to the artist's corner. We each remarked at the surprising expanse of the space. We were seated in the artist's corner, which highlighted works of art by local artists.

Our server, Trevor was such a delight! All night, he was answering questions, giving opinions, making small talk, and having genuinely smart responses to our requests. Loved it!

drinks
The beer concept, was awesome. Each draft beer was $5. Depending on the beer, dictated the size of the pour. That's smart! The wines and bubbles were similarly priced. They also had signature drinks. I ventured out of my comfort zone and enjoyed The Victory Dance. It was a jolt! Slightly bitter and tangy with quite a crowd of flavors in my mouth. Trevor noticed my face and suggested we top it off with a bit of simple syrup. That definitely appealed to the sugar bug in me. He later took it a step further and created an amazing libation that took me back to the warm waters of the Caribbean. I had the honor of naming it, too. We came up with the Pink Bianca, but it could also be a Fruit Loop. But seriously, how many servers do you know who would not only make a custom drink for you (and do it well), but get excited about it!
food
Then, there was the food. I liked it all. Well, all of it that I tried, anyway. We started off with the Belgium Frites, Homebread, Popcorn Chicken (didn't try) and Chrispy Queso. The Chrispy Queso made my belly smile. We had to order another, it was so good. It was made even better when we dipped the frites in the sauce. that was yumminess right there!

For dinner, I had the capellini (not on the menu) with red pepper pesto. Ultimately, I chose this dish because it wasn't regularly on the menu and my original choice (People's Pie) is a fixture on the menu. I could always go back and give the other a try, right? I was told that they make their pasta in house, so this was exciting. I also, sampled the Black Truffle Salami and Mushroom pizza. I didn't have the salami, but I did have everything else. Why are Spicer mushrooms just that much better? I'm salivating as I type this. No really, I probably need a new keyboard. My pasta with the sauce, divine. I would later pay for it because of the red peppers (allergic since they trigger migraines, but I didn't care because I really wanted to try it!!). You can tell how much I liked it because I almost didn't get a shot of it before it was all gobbled up!



negatives 
(go ahead and roll your eyes, because as I type it, I'm rolling mine. I can't believe I'm complaining about what I'm complaining about)

They did not have coffee when we were there. Talk about heartbreaking. I love me some Cuvee coffee. Someone had posted a pic on their Instagram of them enjoying a French Press at Union Bear. Not having it was a disappointment (and I very nearly trekked over to Oddfellows the next day just for a cup of that coffee, addict, much?) But seriously, they don't have coffee on their menu. They are there to sell beer, not coffee. This is Union Bear, not Oddfellows, so get over it, Bianca.

They had Orange Push Pop listed on the menu, but didn't have any. Aaack! All of my first world problems eeeking out over here. No orange push pop to propel me back to my childhood summer days. Oh man! *whine*

The shortbread had bacon in it. While this would be a positive for 98% of the people I know, the other 2% of us, it isn't. Even though I'm mostly not eating animals, I just don't like bacon. The shortbread was p.e.r.f.e.c.t. and then I tasted the bacon. Give some folks some warning, is all.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night out and the location was the exact thing we wanted. I highly recommend you check them out! I had so much fun, I didn't want to leave. I was fully prepared to order more food and drinks, when the reality of my commute home set in and I realized that I wasn't going to be stumbling home. Drink responsibly, my friends! Drink responsibly! Those of you who live farther North, it would definitely be worth the trek down to enjoy.

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