Go west from Milwaukee on I-94. Use Exit 285 in Delafied and head south on 83. Pass the crappy chain restaurants and large box retailers and then six miles of subdivisions, forest and farms until a sign appears–Genesee Depot. The Union House is impossible to miss, a massive, two-story supper club with a wrap-around porch in the center of town.
Arriving at the Union House is arriving in the past.
And we arrived there on a weeknight early in December. Our reservation was unnecessary, but there were several diners in each of the dining rooms, as well as a small number of people at the bar.
As the first person to arrive, I pulled up a stool and ordered a beer … sadly, it turned out to be a flat Guiness. About half of us had been there before, including Cindi, whose submission was picked (Michelle and Adam also selected Union House). A number of us were excited about Union Houses wild game specials. TJ said:
This was my third trip to Union House and I have thoroughly enjoyed each time there. The best part about it is the rotating menu of wild game.
Once we were all there, we were seated at several tables pushed together in the north dining room, which was well lit, wood paneled, decorated for Christmas and looked like it hasn’t changed since the 1950s. We were joined in the dining room by several couples, giving the room a lively feel. Shannon said:
The room we ate in was very cold even though they had a space heater on. My feet were instantly cold so I took off my boots and tucked my toes into my legs, indian style.
We ordered a round of bourbon Old Fashioneds sour, which were carefully handcrafted and very tasty (Cindi enjoyed the cinnamon stick), and sipped them while we discussed appetizers. Our server was kind and helpful.
We ordered two appetizers. Michelle said:
The cheese plate had something different with the expresso cheese and I like the different style of oysters, the cheese made them good because they didn’t taste fishy.
The cheese plate was great. My favorite was all of them, I seriously love me some cheese, although the espresso BellaVitano was especially outstanding.
Following the appetizers, our waitress brought out a salad course and a bread course as our evening stretched luxuriously beyond its first hour.
Four of us ordered the wild game special, venison with risotto. Cindi said:
It was the most tender venison I’ve ever had. I don’t know how they did it, especially considering it was still attached to the bone. I was impressed with number of specials they had; it was tough to make a choice.
I have this thing where if I see anything with risotto, I must have it. It was good but I thought the venison tasted exactly like pot roast. That isn’t a bad thing but I just wanted a more distinct flavor from a specialty food.
I had the venison steak and I think it would have been more fitting to call it a roast. It was so tender you did not need a knife to cut it.
The venison was fall-off-the-bone-when-poked-with-a-fork tender and fantastic. I wish there had been more risotto and also was a little surprised it was $38 considering the filet was the same price. Regardless, it was excellent and I was more than content with the meal.
Shannon did order the filet, she said:
I’ve been craving red meat knowing I was going to order the steak, which was fantastic … but I was so hungry they could have put a overcooked piece of bologna in front of me and I would have been happy. In honesty, the steak was a very well-cooked medium rare, seasoned perfectly to get a good taste of the meat, and accompanied perfectly with a heaping pile of really tasty mushrooms, a unique stack of au gratin potatoes, and a cream sauce. It was probably a 8-ounce filet which was perfect for sharing. I only regret is not getting a lobster tail on the side… hey YOLO, right bro?
I ordered the beef shortribs with potatoes. I really enjoyed them, the shortribs were extremely tender, pulling apart easily. They were seasoned well, very flavorful with a nice char on the outside. Like Mike, I felt like my meal tasted a bit like a roast, which I was fine with, but I expected something different. The potatoes were a complimentary addition, and had a bit of a crunch, which I always like. The sauce coated everything and added another nice flavor element.
Michelle chose a shrimp pasta, she said:
I enjoyed the shrimp very much, it was a good-sized portion and complimented the appetizers, especially the oysters. It was kind of a safe choice and if I went back, I’d probably order the filet or one of the the wild game choices.
By the time our dessert arrived, we’d pushed past our second hour of conversation and food. We chose the flourless chocolate cake, as we’ve done every time it has been on the menu during this quest. It was dense, rich and perfect. It is funny to order a piece of cake and seven forks.
We all enjoyed Union House and would recommend it, though it is worth noting that the food is just too expensive for a normal night out—although everything is properly priced.
I’ve never had a problem paying top dollar for a meal that I enjoyed and Union is no exception to that rule. It’s a bit out there but during our two-and-a-half hour meal, we were never rushed and got to enjoy the cozy–but freezing–dining room.
Union House found a way to make their place unique in a region with a great supper club in every city.
I felt like this dinner was an experience. I enjoyed the bartender/owner with the mustache, nice and attentive service, a nicely paced meal.
The more adventurous might ask to see the ballroom/meeting room, upstairs.
Ratings for Union House were, as follows:
Union cumulative rating: 8.1
Visit Union House online here.
Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY
Losing nominations for ‘U’ were: Ugly’s Pub (Shannon) Umami Moto (Nick) and Upper 90 Sports Pub (TJ and Mike).
Introduction to the ABCs of Milwaukee Dining
AJ Bombers: 6.8
Beta by Sabor: 7.9
Comet Cafe: 7
Eatery on Farwell: 6.2
Fajitas Grill: 5.3
Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub: 7.5
Irie Palace: 6.2
Jow Nai Fouquet: 6.9
Louise’s Trattoria: 5.2
Newsroom Pub: 5.4
Odd Duck: 8.2
Pizza Shuttle: 5.2
Quivey’s Grove: 6.9
Rumpus Room: 7.2
Seoul Korean Restaurant: 4.7
Tenuta’s Italian Restaurant: 7.9
Union House: 8.1
WHERE ARE WE EATING NEXT?