Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen resides in an old church that was built in 1840. The high ceilings, stained glass and wooden benches remind you that it used to be a church, but the buzz, modern industrial lighting and huge bar tell a different story. A husband and wife team bought the old church in 1996 and now provide the community with really good American comfort food. They are famous for their mac and cheese and offer over twenty beers on tap.
We had to try the mac and cheese and split the beast you see in the photo above. You can add ham or go for the lobster mac, but I wanted to sample “the original”. Penne pasta is coated in a mix of creamy cheeses, but the predominant flavor is an aged sharp cheddar. The top was insanely crispy, just the way I like it. Check out that monster green onion on the side! It was very good, but honestly not the best I’ve ever had. Currently it’s a tie between Homeroom’s Goat the Mac and Zingerman’s Pimento Cheese and Bacon Mac. To be fair, that’s some pretty stiff competition.
I ordered the Tuna Bella salad for my entree because, um, did you see the size of that mac and cheese? The sushi-grade tuna was delicious and the salad was very fresh. Marc enjoyed his burger and our friend, Nancy, loved the sausage sampler with their housemade Italian chicken, pecan cherry pork and smoked bratwurst. Everyone who tried a taste of the sausage enjoyed each flavor, but thought the smoked bratwurst was the star of the trio.
After dinner we managed to slide our full bellies out of the wooden benches and visit the Union General Store and Cupcakery that is attached to the restaurant, but accessible through another door. The General Store turned out to be a lady’s dream with paper goods from Rifle Paper Company and all of the latest cookbooks we are all coveting. Beautiful soaps, donut wrapping paper (!), cake stands and more were beautifully arranged on the well-stocked shelves.
My gift shop purchases included two beet buttons and a Segway birthday card that reminded me of Gob from Arrested Development, hehe. It was hard to leave behind that donut wrapping paper!
I was deliriously happy in that girly gift shop and while I browsed and browsed, I lost track of Marc. Lucky for me, he was waiting in line at the cupcakery to order a toffee coffee malt and two macarons. I spotted him with a white bag and a coffee cup and he proudly showed me what he chose. He did an excellent job. The malt was creamy and malty with large chunks of chocolate covered toffee to munch on when the ice cream was all slurped through the coffee lid. The salty caramel macaron was delightful, but surprisingly I loved the lemon macaron even more. I thought macarons in general were not for me and just too sweet, but these had a nice balance of almond flavor with the sweetness. Ok, I get it now.
For the record, my heart drops a little every time I see a macaron because I had the opportunity to get one at Miette in the San Francisco Ferry Building and I didn’t. I was half-crazed from all of the delicious food around me and Marc said we had to draw a line somewhere. What? Seafood at Ferry Plaza Seafood, Ciao Bella gelato and plans for Tartine Bakery and Contigo for dinner later is too much? Never!
Back to spring in Michigan. The weather was sunny and gorgeous as we sat on the cement steps in front of Clarkston Union and looked out at the historic homes on Main Street while sipping our toffee malt. It was a good day.
Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen
54 South Main Street
Clarkston, Michigan 48346