Union Breakfast & Rotisserie Café

Filling an odd hole in Allston’s restaurant scene
By MC SLIM JB  |  January 27, 2010


@Union Breakfast and Rotisserie Cafe | 174 Harvard Avenue, Allston | Open Monday–Saturday, 7 am–8 pm, and Sunday, 8 am–7 pm | 617.779.0077
Allston, as has often been noted here, is a cheap-eats wonderland, boasting scores of fine inexpensive restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. For whatever reason, though, it's not a great place to score breakfast if you want something more than a doughnut: there are more regional Indian restaurants than greasy spoons. Spotting an opportunity, the Korean family that took over the old Grecian Yearning spot (destroyed by a fire that nearly consumed the entire block a couple of summers ago) concluded that all-day bacon-and-eggs house would be more competitive than the sixth Korean restaurant within a few blocks, hence @Union. (The twee name is presumably either a nod to Twitter or a ruse to take the top spot in alphabetized restaurant listings.)

Breakfast offerings are predictable and mostly good: an oversize, fluffy Belgian waffle ($6.25) with a powdered-sugar dusting and token strawberry; a frequently offered special of eggs Benedict ($8.25) with creditable hollandaise and blandish, thickly sliced Bliss potato home fries; a not-so-common omelet filled with diced chicken and Swiss cheese ($6.25). French toast ($4.75) scented with cinnamon and plain toast ($1.95) alike benefit from quality bread. On the café tip, rather good filter coffee ($2.00/small; $2.25/large), excellent Illy espresso ($1.95; $2.45), a range of brewed teas ($2.00–$3.25), and an array of smoothies ($4.50–$5.25) are pluses. But at these prices, I'd like to see real maple syrup, and both my poached eggs arriving with yolks intact.

In general, lunch and dinner plates seem a better value, like a very fine rotisserie half-chicken ($11.95) with good rice and decent stir-fried veggies on the side, and a chewy but properly cooked grilled sirloin steak "strip" ($12.95) with grilled onions and mushrooms and the same rice and vegetables. A Hawaiian sandwich ($7.95) of ham, grilled pineapple, tomato, and lightly pickled vegetables is novel and tasty. Have them hold the Swiss cheese. The space is bright, spare, and cavernous, with well-spaced tables, free Wi-Fi, and some droll seasonally themed chalk illustrations along one wall. Service is polite to the point of tenuousness at times; some American-diner-style assertiveness would probably benefit both staff and customers. Despite its foibles, @Union manages to fill a bit of the neighborhood's breakfast void. Now if the owners follow through with a proposal to start serving Korean-style breakfasts, they might add a unique dimension that would truly make their place stand out amid an enviably crowded Allston restaurant scene.

Related: The Spot Café, Dosa Factory, Looking ahead to 2010, More more >
  Topics: On The Cheap , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Foods,  More more >
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