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On Friday night, your loyal Racked reporters made our way to the private grand opening of River North’s Union Sushi + Barbecue Bar hosted by Cheeky Chicago. Brought to Chicago with its cutting edge, innovative and delectable Asian-inspired menu by first-time restauranteur Mike Schatzman and former Sushi Wabi exec chef Worachai Thapthimkuna, a.k.a. Chao, this is the place where foodies and fashionistas can live in harmony. And the servers and chefs are hot (though not quite as hot as the Robata grill).
Once inside, it was like an interminable playground of colors, ladders, staircases, concrete, billowing fabric and scintillating smells. The DJ blasted tunes from upstairs next to the bar serving Rock Sake cocktails. Managing Partner of Rock Sake, Tim Huizenga, posed with his girlfriend in a Haberdash sweater and jacket from Nordstrom.
Chefs buttoned up in Union gear grilled behind the Robata bar, a clay-infused grill that traps heat and cooks more evenly than a traditional grill, while the crowd sipped specialty cocktails and the graffiti danced dangerously off the walls. Chefs and foodies poured in, Four Seasons chef Kevin Hickey and our own Ari Bendersky from Eater included.
Every inch of the place was decorated with graffiti from local artist Solo, which instantly gave the restaurant a street-inspired edge. A winding staircase, plywood box shelves and gleaming concrete tables illustrated the juxtaposition of “eat and play.” Brand new heels from Nordie’s pecked the floor, as well as a pair of stockings to die for from Chicago’s own branch of Agent Provacateur.
It’s apparent that when you come to Union you can wear a suit and tie or have a beer in jeans on the stairs. Tattoos are optional. Instead of business cards, Union gives out matches. Servers moved through the elite crowd wearing bright Union shirts, (did we mention they are hot?), which we hounded them about to purchase.
Not only can you eat at Union, you can drink, buy art, marvel at the high end food and cocktails and listen to the sounds of the El outside. Overall, an urban environment for the fashionable and the urban community to eat, play and be merry - all while hopped up on sake and fresh fish. -Rea Frey
· Union [Official Site]