Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAY-JUN 2019

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Discreetly tucked away in Indianapolis' Chatham Arch district, and now approaching its fifth anniversary, Union 50 Restaurant & Bar established itself from day one as something of a fixture on the downtown casual fine dining scene. Occupying the space built in 1950 as the Bricklayers, Masons & Tile Setters Union hall (inspiring the name), now repurposed by Cunningham Restaurant Group (CRG) and their go-to design firm Phänomen/design, this boldly imagined gastropub offers a broad range of drinking and dining options to a diverse downtown clientele. From the outside, the building is modest, even to the point of being unremarkable: a squat brick edifice that typifies the city's 1950s Northside architecture. Entering through a modern glass atrium off the parking lot, however, the immediate experience is a bit like hitching a ride on the Tardis. e interior space, almost 7,000 square feet of dining room alone, completely belies the unassuming exterior. The ceilings are some of the highest of any restaurant in town; the back bar reaches upwards, framed against massive windows, like a drinker's vision of Nirvana. Featuring a chef-driven menu and a wide-ranging drinks program, Union 50 offers something to suit most tastes, yet succeeds in steering a path that cleverly navigates the fringes of the mainstream. Corporate chef Carl Chambers, in collaboration with executive chef Adan Sandoval, has created a seasonally changing bill of fare that, like a number of CRG's menus, provides a broad enough comfort zone for less-experienced diners while throwing a roasted marrow bone or two to the esoteric tastes of downtown's more demanding patrons. Chef Adan, who hails from Michoacán, Mexico, and loves to cook fish at every opportunity, brings a passion to his food that he partly attributes to his mentors. "I was so lucky to learn with Chef Ryan Nelson [then] at Oceanaire," he says. "He's one of the best. And of course, working under [CRG Executive Chef ] Layton Roberts really developed my skills." Written by Neil Charles / Photography by Andrew Kung DECK THE HALL Union 50 turns 05. 86 slmag.net

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