Before its doors opened last November, Union already had generated an endless string of headlines: New life for a long-dilapidated downtown corner. The rooftop patio to end all rooftop patios. Kam Talebi of Crave fame, restaurateur with the golden touch. Cocktail czar Johnny Michaels does it again. You get the idea. ¶ The fear was that Kaskaid Hospitality’s market-tested, something-for-everyone approach would dull the edges of this one-of-a-kind real estate. But that hasn’t happened, and Union remains a sparkling addition to the downtown dining scene. ¶ The rooftop dining room and bar has set a ridiculously high bar, with its retractable barrel-vaulted glass roof. When it’s open, Union becomes quite the see-and-be-seen scene. ¶ The food has a Crave-like need to please a wide demographic, but is not without nuance and (pleasant) surprises. The daily 2-to-6 p.m happy hour impresses for its value and variety. The main-floor dining room was a bit of a flop, so Talebi recently rebooted, dubbing it Union Fish Market. The dinner-only operation now focuses on a constantly changing selection of fresh fish from both coasts. There’s a handful of classics — cioppino, fish and chips, crab cakes — along with a half-dozen simple grilled items. But at the menu’s heart is a selection of dishes inspired by chef Lucas Almendinger’s active imagination: skate wing with brown butter and roasted hazelnuts or Thai-style grilled Dungeness crab. Interested in a snack? Give the amusing shrimp corn dogs a shot.
731 Hennepin Av.
Wed.-Thu.: 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 4-11 p.m.; Sun.: 4-9 p.m.