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Union Cafe – Coming Soon is here

The saga of Union Cafe went on for so long, the promising ‘Coming Soon!’ sign was up for so long, that we started calling it Coming Soon.  That’s going to be a hard habit to break.

Union Cafe’s web presence is pretty thin at the moment.  A few details here: link

The first time we tried to stop in it was mobbed so we just backed away slowly and acted like it hadn’t happened.  Ok, so we just drove past and went to Ambition in Schenectady instead.  But then we tried again on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and got in without trouble, though it was busy enough.  That patio area with umbrella-shaded tables that aren’t packed in too tightly as to be a madhouse looks like it could be mega-popular on nice days.

True to script we kept it simple – try the new place out on standard fare.  As it was lunch time we stuck with lunch, although the full menu is available the whole time they are open (breakfast and lunch only) so you’re welcome to get a waffle at 2 PM or a gyro at 10 AM, apparently.

A chicken souvlaki pita, a gyro, a shared order of onion rings, two diet sodas.  Simple, right?

The chicken was reportedly good although it looked sort of messy to eat.  The gyro was quite good.  The only other real Greek restaurant we’ve had success with is the Greek House in Troy, which is just a bit too much of a drive for regular visits.  (There are one or more other Greek restaurants in the area that I am not saying are not good, I am saying we haven’t tried them, yet.)  This gyro was as good as Greek Houses.  The tzatziki wasn’t earth shattering, but it was a good tzatziki, just nothing groundbreaking – and that’s OK.  It comes right on the wrap with a perfectly-sized glob, not too much and not too little.  Just right.

Neither wrap comes with anything save maybe a half-sour pickle spear, so be aware of that.  You can get a side of fries or whatever, I guess.  I suggested we get some onion rings and split them.  I’ve been on an onion ring kick lately with great onion rings from Matt’s Cape House in Clifton Park and wanted to give them a try since previously I’ve had a hell of a time finding decent ones in the area until I found Matt’s.  It was a good choice, their onion rings are good.  Real rings of onion in a panko batter.  They were good and the price was decent (more on this later), try them.  They’re supposed to come with something – a ranch sauce?  Something like that.  We didn’t get it.  We didn’t care so I didn’t say anything, we had them with ketchup.

Service was smiley and decent.  Bring your check to the register by the window to pay.  Not sure what they take for credit cards, the door has a Visa and Mastercard sticker, but I thought there was a sign also that included AmEx and Discover by the register.

Ah, the check.  Maybe I’m just naive, but I thought it was a little pricey.  For the order above the check was about $25 before tip.  I think the onion rings were $3.50.  The sodas were an unconscionable $2.50 each.  The wraps were in the $8 range, which just seems about $2 too much to me for something that doesn’t even come with a handful of chips from one of those industrial sized restaurant boxes of chips.  Give me a handful of chips and I’m good at that price point.  I didn’t wince, but it just felt like too much.  It’s a convenient location for us and we would probably go there at least once a month, but honestly I think the price makes that less likely.  This is more of a once-in-a-while price point for a very simple lunch for us.  We can get giant burritos with chips and drinks for less than that down the block at Hot Harrys.  So, not crazy expensive, but a bit much for what you get.  The full meals with rice and such weren’t much more, so maybe that would feel like a deal.

We’ll go back.

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Update: Visit 2 basically confirmed visit 1.  Paying more attention this time, the onion rings were $4.30.  And, oddly, this time they were of the beer battered style.  Why the switch?  No clue.  Again, whatever sauce it was supposed to come with was missing.  Gyro still good – this time I took care to separate some of the meat and tried it on its own – it was fantastic and full of flavor.  Greek salad was the other entree and was good enough for this time of year, topped with 2 thick slices of lovely feta – yes slices.  One pepperocini, one forgettable stuffed grape leaf.  Saw some people eating breakfast, including massive slabs of french toast that looked really good.

Subsequent visits included the italian steak sandwich, that was messy but tasty.  The Mediterranean wrap with chicken was reportedly good.  Last visit included the day’s special – a greek burger.  This was a basic burger, perfectly cooked, with feta and I think tomato.  I thought it sounded amazing, but the feta, although lavishly included, was oddly tasteless next to the tasty burger meat.  Still, with fries and the usual half-sour spear, it was a good deal in the $8 range.  Did I mention how tasty the meat was?  This place knows their meat, I’ll give them that.

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Update: According to their Facebook page, beginning in November, Union Cafe will be open Thursday through Saturday evenings until 8!  Awesome!

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