Ottawa Magazine - - CENTRETOWN -

Union 613 re­minds you why you like Amer­ica: it’s di­rect, au­then­tic, and de­liv­ers the goods. Chef Dar­ren Flow­ers makes us aban­don any stereo­types of medi­ocrity we might as­so­ciate with Amer­i­can cui­sine. In­stead, he de­liv­ers sim­ple, bold flavours — to great ef­fect.

The fried chicken is crispy and juicy and served with sides of tra­di­tional po­tato salad with a mayo base and slaw — also tra­di­tional — with a nice vine­gary tang. Pork ten­der­loin is served atop creamy corn and black-eyed peas. A side of corn­bread is a must: moist, stud­ded with corn ker­nels, and sea­soned gen­er­ously with a creamy but­ter whose flavour changes reg­u­larly. The ve­gan grilled broc­coli is punched up with kim­chi and a bed of cashew cheese. Shrimp and grits are an­other clas­sic combo that’s treated with re­spect.

For dessert, lemon meringue pie — with a short­bread crust and just the right amount of sweet meringue — makes you think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

On the drinks side, the bar­tender mixes fruit and herbs in carafes to de­li­cious re­sults. Even stan­dard drinks are “Union­ized” by in-house ad­di­tions such as ton­ics, syrups, hot sauces, and co­las.

Union 613 has a woodsy road­house feel, with com­mu­nal ta­bles in the back; there’s even a speakeasy in the base­ment, hid­den be­hind a book­shelf. Like Amer­ica, Union 613 can be a lit­tle loud, but it never pre­tends to be other than an in­for­mal meet­ing place for good drinks and sim­ple food, el­e­vated.

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