Phantom Gourmet: Food & Games At Brass Union In Somerville

Phantom Gourmet: Food & Games At Brass Union In Somerville

SOMERVILLE – It’s never been more fun to play with your food. At Brass Union in Somerville, it’s ok to laugh with your mouth full, because at this Union Square eatery, they have all of the nostalgic games you grew up with under one roof.

“We have lots of different board games. We have a 14-foot shuffle board table. We also have a classic arcade table top game which has 60 different games on it,” said General Manager Scott MacDonald. “Any game that you may have grown up with, it’s on that machine. Everything is free and it’s all about the social aspect of it.”

While there’s the table-top version of Jenga inside, Scott recommends heading out to the patio to have your hand at the supersized version, where the competition is stiff.

“It’s gotten a little heated at times, but all in a fun, competitive way. It really attracts sort of the passer-bys. We have the tendency to see people gawking and hanging out and just watching somebody play that Jenga game and waiting for it to tumble. It’s a lot of fun.”

They’ve made the menu just as enjoyable.

“We wanted to have fun with it. How seriously can you take yourself when you have Pac Man and a shuffle board table?” he quipped.

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Chicken Wings at Brass Union (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

So they’ve included things like upscale chicken wings, twice fried in a crunchy black pepper batter and served alongside buttermilk dressing, and a burger topped with Cabot cheddar, onion marmalade, herb aioli, and a patty that’s cooked perfectly every time.

To try a personal favorite of Chef Jonathan Kopacz, order up a delicious dish called the Choripan.

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The Choripan at Brass Union (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“Basically it’s a street food that they eat in Argentina. It’s something that you eat when you’re out and standing up and maybe drinking a beer,” Chef Jonathan said.

Priced at only $5, this Argentinian version of a hot dog will light up your palate without breaking your bank.

“It’s chorizo, which is a little bit spicier and it has a little bit more flavor to it; a Portuguese pop bun that we cut in half and we core out some of the center of it; and then we add a little bit of chimichurri sauce in there as well. We flash cook it and then that’s our Argentinian style hot dog,” described Scott.

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Pork Loin Sandwich at Brass Union (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Chef Jonathan also gets inspiration by way of Portugal for creations like the Pork Loin Sandwich, served on a fluffy Portuguese roll known as a pop.

“The pork loin sandwich is a variation of a Portuguese pork sandwich. We get the pops from the Brazilian store down in the market and they bake them for us fresh every day. We cut thick slices of pork loin and grill them, and then the kicker here is a little red chili paste, so it’s spicy and a little smoky and the pop is fresh and soft. It’s delicious,” he assured.

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Sautéed Calamari at Brass Union (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Brass Union offers plenty of seafood small plates that are good for sharing, like Sautéed Calamari served with Italian sausage, fava beans and Swiss chard, a bowl full of fresh pappardelle spiked with chunks of lobster in a beurre blanc sauce, and Cod Cakes that are all cod and nothing but cod.

“We think it is really important to let people know that we’re not cheating,” Scott said. “There aren’t chunks of bread. There’s not bread crumbs inside the cod cake. It’s cod cake, and that’s what you get.”

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Cod Cakes at Brass Union (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Beef lovers will long for Brass Union’s Steak Frites, featuring a grilled New York Strip topped with a housemade porcini butter.

When it’s finally time to dig into some dessert, eating and gaming come together in a dish you’ll definitely want to gobble up: The Pac Man Lemon Cake.

“It’s a Pac Man dessert. It’s a lemon pound cake with a nice anglais on top, some blueberries, and then we do a blueberry puree as well. The part that makes it a little unique is that we cut it in the shape of a Pac Man,” explained Scott. “If you’ve ever played the game, which I’m pretty sure everyone has, it just literally says this is a classic arcade game in a dessert form.”

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Pac Man Lemon Cake at Brass Union (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Whether you enjoy eating Pac Man, or just playing it, you’re guaranteed to have fun when you’re at Brass Union.

“If you’re not having fun, then there’s something wrong with you,” Scott declared. ”A lot of it is a throwback to when you were growing up as a kid playing board games. Now you get to do it and have a nice dinner and have a nice cocktail. It doesn’t get better than that.”

You can find Brass Union at 70 Union Square in Somerville, and online at

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.