Union Social Eatery
By YP Contributor

Going Independent

Three years ago, three simple Canadian guys working for Sircorp—the umbrella company of casual dining restaurants like Canyon Creek, Jack Astor’s and Alice Fazooli’s—decided that they needed to put their experience to good use. Over 67 years of combined practice in opening up restaurants and designing menus led the threesome to one collective idea: “Let’s open up something of our own,” said Mike Rame, head chef of Union Social Eatery.

“The two owners were actually sitting down at Tim Hortons and they just started writing words on a piece of paper,” explains Rame, recalling how the name Union Social Eatery came to be. “Then they just pieced a few words together. We know we wanted to be a social place—it’s a union of social.”

Union Social Eatery was born and the pilot restaurant in Mississauga quickly became popular with west-enders. In January 2014, around three years after the launch of the first location, USE made its way into uptown Toronto. The strategy behind USE’s success? “I wanted to make the food very approachable,” says Rame.

We want to be the place where you can come kick back, relax with your friends and have some good food that’s not pretentious - Mike Rame, Head Chef
Union Social Eatery, Casual eatery, homemade cuisine, Toronto Pub, restaurant, bar

Filling a Void in the Neighbourhood

USE stands out amongst its Yonge and St. Clair neighbours. Situated beside the old-fashioned Scallywags bar on St. Clair, USE’s exterior is strikingly modern. The façade is reminiscent of Manhattan restaurants—an open garage with couples huddled in intimate conversation.

Guests seated on the tall chairs closest to the front of the restaurant are practically perched on St. Clair, luring other customers in. And that’s certainly what Chef Rame and the co-owners strive for: “We want to be the place where you can come kick back, relax with your friends and have some good food that’s not pretentious,” he says.

Monday to Friday lunch service is jam packed with business folk looking for a casual and tasty lunch. Inside, one quickly realizes the appeal of this joint: there’s a lack of anything remotely uptight at Urban Social Eatery. The establishment is, as Chef Rame calls it, very relaxed.

Union Social Eatery, Casual eatery, homemade cuisine, Toronto Pub, restaurant, bar

Pub Grub Made from Scratch and Craft Beer, Too

It’s hard to believe that a restaurant that turns over 300 people during weekday lunch services doesn’t have a walk-in freezer. The homemade approach to cooking is what differentiates USE from the rest. USE’s chest freezer has ice cream in it—and that’s it.

Chef Rame is passionate about making everything by hand: “We butcher our own seafood, we butcher our own steak, we make all our own stocks, dressings and soups,” he recites. Even their fries—perfectly thin and more of a cross between fries and frites—are hand cut every day.

At the bar, the goods are just as impressive. Bartenders have a juicer on hand so they can transform freshly squeezed fruit juice into cocktails. And on tap, there’s no Alexander Keith’s, but you will find a few classics from the conglomerates, like good ol’ Guinness. More often than not though, USE stays away from the mainstream, sourcing an array of craft beer like Delirium, Flying Monkey and gluten-free Mongozo—most of which can’t be found at just any restaurant.

“We don’t want to be like everybody else,” declares Rame. “We wanted to make USE a little bit more unique.”

Union Social Eatery, Casual eatery, homemade cuisine, Toronto Pub, restaurant, bar
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