A week after Andrea Nicolson came to the end of her amazing run on Top Chef Canada she happily agreed to have dinner with me this past week. We met at Toronto Taste this year and it was so nice to meet her because she was one of the people I watched on the show that I was rooting for! I was so happy when she followed through with her invitation for dinner and drinks a few days after Toronto Taste and set a date with me. She was genuinely interested in getting together to chat about food, life, and Top Chef Canada over many glasses of wine (and later some tequila – we were bound to become bff after that!). She asked me to choose the restaurant and I decided on Union at 72 Ossington Ave. We both had never been so it seemed like a perfect choice since we wanted to try something new.
We met there and immediately started talking about everything, it was just so easy – it felt like we had known each other forever. We were seated at a small table at the back right beside the open kitchen, it was surprisingly very quiet and so awesome to watch the chefs at work. As we were handed the wine list we were told that on Tuesdays it is half price bottles of wine – we looked at each other and our eyes lit up. Score! This meant we could splurge a little and we decided on a wonderful red from Organized Crime called ‘The Download’. We sipped on our wine and continued to chat, at this point the service was great and we were content. We had a look over the menu and ordered a few things to share (I love sharing – this way I get a bite of everything! I know I’m a sneakster)
We started with the Elk Sliders with Mirin Galangal Glaze and Pickle on Challah. These were so good, the sliders were cooked perfectly and there was a yummy aioli under them. The crunch of the pickle on top was like the icing on the cake.
Next we dug into the Asparagus Salad. I loved the textures it had with the crunch of the veg and the creaminess of the ricotta on top. The dish did however disappoint in flavour, it lacked seasoning and needed more acidity to make it pop.
We finished with the Rabbit Confit. It was served on a bed of braised vegetables and grainy mustard on top. The Rabbit was amazing – it was salty, sweet, crispy and super tender. It was delicious. The fact that it was served with some braised veggies was kinda boring to me and made it seam a little too expensive for what it was.
After my experience here at Union I think I would go back to try a few other items from their menu. It seems like it changes here and there because originally I had wanted to have the charcuterie plate but it wasn’t offered the day we went.
I had a great time with Andrea and I’m already looking forward to our next dinner out. Andrea is one cool, down to earth and passionate woman and I am so happy that I can now call her a friend – thanks a million girl!! We had a blast and I was able to get into some fun Q&A with her.. a small look into the world of a Top Chef
E: What is your earliest memory of cooking
A: Making perogies with Gramma (Andrea is Ukrainian)
E: Fave food?
A: Ukrainian dish called Meat on a stick and braised oxtail
E: Fave item to cook with right now?
A: Spot prawns
E: Food you hate?
A: Raw tomatoes
E: Fave quick fire challenge on Top Chef Canada?
A: The Cheese Episode (The challenge was to make a a breakfast dish using Canadian Cheese)
E: Who was your fave guest judge on Top Chef Canada and why?
A: Dan Aykroyd – He is just so supper funny (she giggled a bit even when saying his name)
E: Fave cure for a hangover?
A: Lots of Sleep and Apache Burger with fries and gravy
If you want to get a taste of what Andrea and a few other Top Chef Canada contestants have to offer then come to the competitor dinner that Great Cooks on Eight is hosting this Thursday June 30 2011 – Hurry and get your tickets!! Oh ya .. you can also meet ME – I will be there enjoying all the yummy food and drinks! I mean is there anything better than being able to experience Top Chef Canada in real life??