As he passed another lazy afternoon at Purdue University’s student union, Paul Miller had a flash of sudden, delicious inspiration. He wanted to capture the feeling of camaraderie he shared with his fellow students, to create a place where people could gather for good company and good food long after graduation ended. He kept that dream with him through years in the restaurant industry, finally giving his vision form as The Union Kitchen, a joint venture in contemporary global cuisine with chef Juan Arellano.
Even though the restaurant mirrors Paul’s collegiate experience, the food within is a far cry from the typical dorm cafeteria fare–in fact, H-Texas magazine added The Union Kitchen to its "Culinary Stars" list in the Best Burger category. The menu features flavors and techniques borrowed from France, Italy, Mexico, and beyond, which take shape in dishes ranging from paremesan-crusted chicken and chophouse steaks to small plates filled with baked brie, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, or PEI mussels. To stay on top of the calendar, Paul and Juan hit local farmers’ markets bi-weekly to suss out the freshest seasonal ingredients for use in their cuisine. They also borrow spare pitchforks, the best utensil with which to tackle their famed Union Burger. The monstrous tower of meat, bun, and onion rings slips other flavors in between its layers, from pecan-smoked bacon to barbecue-smoked aioli. This dauntingly delicious combination is part of what earned it rave reviews from local reporters and bloggers alike.