In 1985, New York City was a very different place than it is today: Ed Koch was mayor, a subway ride cost just 90 cents, and we only had one NBA team. It was also the year that famous restaurateur Danny Meyer — the man who would later become one of the masterminds behind the acclaimed international burger chain, Shake Shack — opened Union Square Cafe. The restaurant takes its inspiration from the produce found in the vibrant greenmarket right outside the door. In its tenure, it won five James Beard Awards was named New York’s Most Popular Restaurant by Zagat nine times.
To celebrate all the restaurant has accomplished in the past 30 years, Danny Meyer will host a series of festivities honoring the team, guests, community, and suppliers who helped make USC what it is today. To begin this celebration, the restaurant is launching a series of four seasonal dinners. These dinners will highlight an array of favorite dishes from the past three decades, uncovered from the recipe archives by chef Carmen Quagliata. In the first dinner, each of the four courses will highlight winter Greenmarket ingredients and a different decade of USC. Diners will enjoy dishes like sweetbread ravioli with winter roots and black truffle and a banana tart “2.0.” The winter dinner will take place on Monday, March 16, with seatings from 5:30 to 9:45 p.m.; tickets cost $99 per person, with an optional wine pairing for an additional $65. The subsequent seasonal dinners will take place on Monday, June 15; Monday, August 31; and Monday, November 9. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.
Union Square Cafe will also host two special Morning Market Meetings to honor their 30-year tradition of cooking demonstrations and talks from Greenmarket farmers. Chef Quagliata is planning a special culinary program to accompany each event. The first program will take place on Wednesday, May 20 from 8 to 10:15 a.m. It will begin with coffee and baked goods, and will feature a panel discussion, cooking demonstration from Quagliata, a tasting of the demonstrated dish, and a Greenmarket tour. Tickets are $75, but, due to popular demand, will be allocated by lottery; to enter for a chance to win, email Hannah McClelland with your phone number and requested number of seats.
In addition to these exciting and informative events, chef Quagliata will introduce a special “Greatest Hits” chef's table menu in April. An homage to the favorite flavors of USC, the customizable menu will be served family-style in the front cafe area for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and the table can accommodate parties of up to 14 guests. Menus start at $55 per person for a three course lunch and $85 per person for the same-sized dinner. The experience includes a personal consultation with Union Square Cafe’s wine director Michael Scaffidi, whose team has scoured the restaurant’s cellars to curate an iconic list of 30 whites and 30 reds, offered by the bottle, sourced from winemakers with whom they have developed strong relationships. They will also present a rotating collection of selections from their vintage year — 1985 — both by the glass and the bottle throughout 2015.