The Kitchen at Union Square is well worth the finding.
It can be a little tricky finding Kitchen at Union Square. But if you’re walking along Martin Luther King Boulevard, and passing by the Tallan Building, you’ll notice some cafe tables and a staircase that goes down. That’s where you’ll find a unique and exciting dining experience.
After walking down the stairs, you are flanked by rows of flowers planted along the side of the walkway. And mixed in with the flowers are various herbs. Those were all planted by Kitchen’s General Manager, Eve Markowicz. And, yes, those herbs may very well end up on your plate or in your mojito. It’s only the first sign that this restaurant goes above and beyond to use locally grown, organic and sustainable ingredients.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of Kitchen at Union Square yet. They’ve only been open since November of last year—and as I said, they’re a little out of the way.
There are very few things about Kitchen that one could consider “ordinary.” Not the least of which is their association with Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College. Wherever VC has a culinary curriculum, a restaurant is opened with the name “Kitchen on (fill in the blank)”, where the blank is usually the street on which the restaurant is located.
Students can intern, extern and do graduate work at the restaurant, getting much-needed real-world experience in a busy commercial kitchen. Markowicz says it’s a delicate balancing act between professional and student kitchen staff. “You don’t want the chefs to take all the control,” Markowicz says, “and you don’t want to leave it all up to someone more novice.” She explains that the students get hands-on training in a “learning lab,” working closely with Executive Chef David Gauthier. The Boston native loves the opportunity to help mold the future of the culinary arts by working in such an environment.
Chef Gauthier is proud of Kitchen’s “farm-to-table” practice, using as much locally produced food as he can acquire. “I’m working with Everett Heritage Farm in Chickamauga,” he says, “We get stuff from them at least twice a week.” They also buy all the eggs Far Out Organics can produce, the honey comes from bee keepers on Missionary Ridge and the root beer for his Hunter Sauce comes from SodaWorks Company. Even the batter on the fish & chips is made with beer from Chattanooga Brewing Company.
The menu covers a wide spectrum of tastes, from the simple, such as the aforementioned fish & chips or the Union Burger with Bacon Jam and Beer Onions, or, to suit the more adventurous palate, there’s a Salmon and Brie Salad made with local field greens, dried cranberries, roasted bell pepper, vanilla poached pears, candied nuts and a lavender vinaigrette.
For connoisseurs, the wine list is impressive. On the one hand, you can enjoy an Italian Zonin Prosecco. Or for that big event, you can splurge on a French Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne. The list rounds out with several wines from California, Oregon—even a Lonely Cow Sauvingnon Blanc from New Zealand.
Chef Gauthier is excited to be hosting his first Wine Dinner Thursday, August 14 from 6-8 p.m. For $59 per person, diners will be treated to five courses and five wines, paired personally by the executive chef. The seating will be at the bar and is limited to 20. That will allow the chef to spend time with each diner. Markowicz is looking forward to this first foray into a more intimate setting, saying, “I think wine dinners are a great way to get our name out there and to give people an extraordinary experience.”
If you miss this one, don’t worry. Markowicz has another—even bigger—wine dinner planned for September 8 that will accommodate more than 60 people in the private banquet room. And yet another chance to sample house specialties will come September 20 at Track 29 when Kitchen at Union Square caters the March of Dimes Gala. This caps off a year of working with the March of Dimes for Kitchen. The restaurant has already hosted a Sangria Bar at the charity’s golf tournament.