Understandably, Union League Café in New Haven is a favorite with theater-goers. It’s highly accessible to patrons of the Schubert Theater, the Yale Repertory Theatre, and the handful of other downtown venues, but workable even with plays showing at Long Wharf Theatre (thanks especially to the Church Street Bridge built in 2003 to link Long Wharf with downtown New Haven).
And so, an unseasonably mild February evening found my companion and me at Long Wharf Theatre for a showing of Macbeth 1969.
When the play ended and the cast took a well-deserved bow,
we exited the theater
and headed for dinner. Although I enjoy the theater, you’ll never hear me utter the words “The play’s the thing” (although that incomplete and misapplied phrase is from Hamlet). With me, the food’s the thing. A fine meal is all the entertainment I need, a worthy focus of an entire evening.
And where better than Union League Café to make a meal the focus of an evening (2009 photo)?
We expected to see the cheery face of general manager Jean-Michel Gammariello (2009 photo),
whom we learned is recovering from a surgical procedure. Instead, we were greeted by this young man, also a familiar face.
We checked our coats in this giant wardrobe
but the clement weather required no umbrellas.
There was a fire going in the magnificent fireplace.
We were provided with water
and a lovely white Burgundy,
the remainder of which was placed in a chiller.
We were brought a small plate of gougères (Gruyère cheese puffs),
followed by a basket of sliced white and whole grain bread
and a triangle of creamy butter.
When I got up briefly and returned to the table, I found my napkin refolded at my place, the kind of cossetting I really enjoy.
For her appetizer, my companion selected a lovely crab salad
while I enjoyed an incredible foie gras and duck confit terrine with a little Sauternes
and a side plate of toast points.
For her entrée, my companion selected luscious roasted Nova Scotian lobster from the regular menu,
while I ordered an incredible venison special.
It was late and most customers had left, with the possible exception of a party being held upstairs,
so we decided, painful as it was, to skip dessert. Our gracious hosts still saw to it that we had some delightful mignardises to savor.
I took the opportunity to photograph the beautiful restaurant and its fine appointments while there were no customers to disrupt.
Best of all, my companion and I got the chance to catch up with brilliant chef Jean-Pierre Vuillermet and his lovely wife, Robin.
Union League Café, 1032 Chapel Street, New Haven, 203-562-4299, www.unionleaguecafe.com