Mike Sula reviews Urban Union, the Taylor Street small-plates wine bar from Jason Chan (Butter) and Michael Shrader (Epic, N9ne Steak House), which is dominated by a wood-burning oven. Shrader takes a minimalist approach—sometimes too minimal. While Sula was impressed by the vegetables, dishes such as quail and porchetta suffer from uneven execution, as do the house-made pastas. In all, he finds, this is a menu that's better on paper than on the plate, though there are some standouts like the cioppino or schnitzel with salsa verde. He's also impressed with the work of pastry chef Mitsu Nozaki.
In Cocktail Challenge, Longman & Eagle bartender (and new father) Derek Alexander, challenged by Steve Carrow with baby formula, upped the ante by using spiced breast-milk bubbles to top off his chai-infused cocktail the Baby Trade. Next up is Danny Shapiro of Scofflaw, challenged with durian, the fetid-smelling "king of fruits."