New Kid on the Block: Union Bar + Kitchen

Union Bar and Kitchen roomJonathan Renert has always loved cooking. “I grew up doing it in San Diego,” he says. “I paid my way through school in Japan by doing it.” Even while he was working in marketing and then finance, he was catering and hosting wine tastings and beer pairings. “As the financial world became less and less enjoyable, I wondered—if my kids don’t see me having fun, how will they know what it is? So I made a decision.”

The result: Union Bar + Kitchen, now serving lunch and dinner on Spring Street, just a block north of Canal. Even though Renert lives in Battery Park City, and had lived in Tribeca for years, he looked at spaces all over the city. The former home of Cherrywood Kitchen (and Lomito, and Sora Lella….) spoke to him. “When I walked in and saw this, I knew it could work if I tore it all down and ripped the front out.” He installed sliding doors (they’re opened up in nice weather), removed an overhang looming by the main door and banquettes that divided the room, and added wood paneling, subway tile, and beer taps. The art is by Clifford Bailey: Renert had bought a painting for his apartment when he was living in San Francisco; it’s now in Union Bar + Kitchen, along with ones that were specifically commissioned.

The name “Union” was chosen because Renert wants the restaurant to combine different experiences. “The other day, there were guys at the bar watching the game, families sitting over in the corner, and two couples along the back—exactly what I was looking for.” Likewise, the menu roams from New England (clam chowder) to Mexico (guacamole and chips, fish tacos) to France (moules marineiere) to Japan (hamachi tartare, panko-fried oysters, Japanese-style fried chicken)—along with much more, including a rotisserie chicken that Renert plans on being a highlight of the delivery options, when that starts up.

“I”m excited!” he says. “It came out exactly the way I wanted it to. People keep asking if I’m stressed, but the stress was during the build-out, with all the stuff I couldn’t control. This is the fun part.”

Union Bar + Kitchen is at 300 Spring (between Hudson and Renwick), 646-791-0005; Brunch will begin June 7.

Union Bar and KitchenUnion Bar and Kitchen back areaUnion Bar and Kitchen fish tacosUnion Bar and Kitchen fried oysterUnion Bar and Kitchen caesar saladUnion Bar and Kitchen menuUnion Bar and Kitchen drinks menuUnion Bar and Kitchen bar menuRecent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
Il Principe
Arcade Bakery
Sweet Green
Hotel Hugo
El Vez
Racines NY
Juice Press
By Suzette
The Live Well Company
Gilded Age

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