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An Ode to Union Picnic

O Union Picnic, how I adore thee!

When the world is cruel and people are mean, when the days swelter or sting, when the payroll department screws up your paycheck for the third time and the ATM rips you off and some jerk splices into your cable on the roof, dear dear Union Picnic swings open a breezy screen door to welcome the tired, the weary, the hungry and the spent.

Taste the love in that coleslaw!

5.18.2004

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog when I was searching for info on Union Picnic, trying to decide whether or not I, as a person who grew up in Louisiana eating granny's home-cooking, should order from them. I gave it a try and can only think that you must have luckily eaten there on good days and I on a bad one, or that we have widely divergent opinions on what is good food. I started to post my opinion on freewilliamsburg.com but was told that it was too harsh. I need to get this complaint off my chest though, especially since, due to hunger pains, I woke up way too early this morning. The low-down, the rundown:

okra appetizer - tasted like it was fried in grease that something had been burned in/the dip had no flavor to speak of

chicken box dinner - this is what was burned in the grease/the chicken itself tasted bad; out of a three-piece dinner, my boyfriend and I only managed to finish one piece, with the aid of lots of tabasco

mashed potatoes and gravy - only good thing

cornbread - way too sweet unless it was meant as dessert

collard greens - too healthy seeming to be identified as southern cooking and a paltry amount

sage stuffing - soggy bread/gross

An altogether disappointing experience. I saved the leftover chicken thinking I could make it better by putting it in a chicken salad or something but I don't want to risk ruining good mayonnaise...

5/03/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot, I agree that the coleslaw was pretty good. However, I have never seen such a small takeout container. I've gotten salad dressing delivered in containers larger than that...

5/03/2005  
Blogger MissGinsu said...

To be sure, consistency is not their strong suit.

I ordered last night, and it took close to an hour and a half to arrive... but the meatloaf was spicy, the potatoes were creamy and the beans were garlicky and tender-crisp. The mixed berry cobbler was a tangy-sweet dream, but all dishes were nearly stone cold.

*sigh*

For best results, keep this in mind... delivery success is a roll of the dice, but the food at Union Picnic (now Union Star) is *always* better when eaten in-house.

5/03/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... it took close to an hour and a half to arrive... but the meatloaf was spicy, the potatoes were creamy and the beans were garlicky and tender-crisp. The mixed berry cobbler was a tangy-sweet dream, but all dishes were nearly stone cold."

THIS KILLS ME. i'm so sorry! we're so busy we can't keep up, though we do our best. we're not sort-of-busy; we're INSANELY busy (and we've been in this biz all of our lives, we know from busy.) we've added an extra delivery guy on sunday, and an extra guy in the kitchen from 6-10. i come in to help with the counter shift, and eddie comes in to help on the line, total four extra people supplementing a staff of FOUR (that's doubling the staff) and we still can't keep up. we tell customers that it will be an hour for delivery, and maybe more, and 90% say "okay" and i'm like "oh NO!" the room just got seated again, and we've got 16 delivery tickets up ahead of that, and 8 delivery orders on the counter ready to go out. that's when we tell delivery and phone-in takeout customers that we're not taking orders for another hour. we hate to do that, but we have to. my husband is like, c'mon, c'mon, we can do it (and he can) but i'm like honey, the kitchen is putting the food out faster than the delivery people can take it, the phone is ringing faster than the ordering people can answer the phone, take the order, run it, and pack it up, and we have to slow down.

it's no longer just weekend nights; lately, tuesday, the bugaboo of the restaurant industry, has added itself to the killer roster. we are still located in the middle of nowhere and even our lunches are pushing us hard. every night of the week is slammed.

as for the comment by anonymous: sorry. it's not impossible that we had a bad night, though it kills me to think that anyone would have such a bad experience. many of our customers are new yorkers from the texas, the carolinas, louisiana, and these are repeat customers who love the food. our reviews have been greatly encouraging, and we're garnering a lot of attention and praise. i wish anonymous might respond to me and tell me when she/he had the experience that proved so unpleasurable. the last thing in this world we want to do is make anybody unhappy.

in any case, we'll keep fighting the good fight. as for "wildly divergent opinions on what is good food" i can say that union serves very good food. at this point we strive for consistency as the restaurant becomes more and more what we want it to be.

we are very serious about the food, the service, the restaurant as a whole. let me add a caveat: this business of running a restaurant is not simple, nor is it easy in any way. we're giving the whole of our experience, energy, and ability to it. it keeps getting better.

i think i'm going to start sending comment cards with the deliveries. i can see you when you eat in the restaurant, but when you're at home i don't know what you're thinking. please, try to remember that when we're taking your order we're doing our absolute best to give you the best. we're sincere, we're experienced, we're talented, we work hard, but nobody's perfect. most importantly, we don't want to hear that you had a bad experience.

5/12/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, and i'd like to ask of anonymous - when did you have all the food that tasted of burnt grease? we spend a great deal of money on high quality cooking oil (we don't use junk), and on the amount of labor it takes to keep it clean and fresh. we use unhydrogenated oil and take pains to keep our fryers clean. we strain the oil twice daily and change it every night; that is, we cook in clean oil that is never heated beyond its capacity, and we clean it far more often than is the restaurant norm. i dare say that you will not often find fried food that is cooked in oil that is maintained to this level of integrity.

that's why i want to know when you had the food. i can't imagine how this might have happened, unless the cook overcooked it, or unless the food was put into the oil cold. it just doesn't happen. thanks, i'd very much appreciate your response.

5/12/2005  
Anonymous ShenzouStarlet said...

To weigh in on this discussion, I have probably ordered food from Union Picnic more times than everyone else in Greenpoint combined, seriously. There have been disappointments, mixed up orders and long wait times, but these things do happen on ocassion. It sounds as if the unhappy anonymous just had supremely bad luck and the universe came together and pooped out an awful order at the doorstep. This sounds silly for sure, but I really think it is true.

Nothing is perfect. I am from Texas, grew up eating this food too and feel that over all Union Picnic does a great job. You should give them a second chance. If you are not willing, it really is your loss.

As for the specific complaints, I have never experienced any problem to the degree you have described. I have probably ordered from Union Picnic more times than everyone else in Greenpoint combined since it opened, seriously. There have been disappointments, mixed up orders and long wait times, but these things do happen occasionally. No place is perfect. It sounds as if the unhappy anonymous just had supremely bad luck and the universe came together and pooped out an awful order at his or her doorstep. This sounds silly for sure, but I believe it to be true.

As for the specific complaints, I have never experienced any problem to the degree you have described. The description does not even sound like the restaurant I know. Yes, the container for the sides that come along with the roasted chicken are small, but if you order a side of 'veggie x’ or the veggie combo plate you get normal to very large portions in a standard aluminum container with a clear plastic lid.

I am from Texas, and grew up eating this food as well. Over all, Union Picnic does a great job offering yummy southern food. And, the proprietress Susie Bean (as my friends and I refer to her) exhibits about the most southern hospitality one will ever find up here in yankee-land. You should give Union Picnic a second chance. If you are not willing, it really is your loss.

5/13/2005  
Anonymous shenzoustarlet said...

...oops...sorry about the sloppy post above, but the point comes across loud and clear.

5/13/2005  

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