It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Union Woodshop, Clarkston, MI, USA

When we were back in Michigan, hubby had to fly away for work, and I begged a bed with Rebecca and Rick over in Lake Orion.  They really wanted me to try this amazing BBQ restaurant, The Union Woodshop, over in Clarkston, so we headed over and arrived about 8.30pm on a Thursday night.  Now, Clarkston isn't a big place, and it's kind of out in the country.  We thought we'd easily snag a table that late on a weeknight.  Mistake.

We lobbed up to the door of the Union Woodshop only to be told there was a 90 minute wait, and we were welcome to take a beeper, and they'd beep us when a table became available.  90 minutes!  On a Thursday night!  Hmmmm.  We were hungry, so we decided to try its sister restaurant just up the street (sorry guys, I can't remember the name of it!).  We wandered up the street and were told that it was a 90 minutes wait for them as well!  It's an outrage.  Or not.  But it is if you're hungry.

The amazing smell of pulled pork and smoked BBQ was drifting up the street, and we were getting really peckish.  We decided we'd try to get a beeper for the Woodshop and go upstairs to the bar and get a drink whilst we waited - but we were really only half hearted about waiting because we were HUNGRY.  As we debated the merits of waiting and eating this amazing food, or leaving and trying to find something half as good, we got talking to a lovely guy who'd come down from the bar upstairs.

He was saying how good the food was, and that he and his wife had a long wait too, but they'd luckily just got a table.  After a bit of chat, one of us made a joke about how we'd come and join his table, and he laughed and then said "What a minute!", then ducked inside and came back out and invited us in!  Turns out that Dean and his gorgeous wife Christine (picture a young Stevie Nicks and you'll know how pretty she was) had been given a table for 5, but there were only two of them and they asked us to join them.  Seriously.  How fabulous is that?

They were great company and we didn't stop laughing and chatting for hours.  Add in the amazing food that the Woodshop is famous for, and it was one of those nights that you don't forget.  I had the pulled pork (bliss) which came on a large tray (enough for two) with sides of mac and cheese, sweet potato mash and cornbread - it was absolutely, outrageously, lick your fingers, good.  There's no way I could finish it all, but I gave it a good try.  Rebecca and Rick had eaten there before and they really enjoyed their meals too.

So, get along to the Union Woodshop if you can get out to Clarkston - and, in the mangled words of Blanche Dubois "always depend on the kindness of strangers"!

Here's the blurb from their website:-

It begins and ends in the backlot, with a Southern Pride smoker that's on a constant low-temp tear with green hickory and an assortment of meats. It's a ritual that starts with a careful rub and ends only when we think its time to pull the meat from the bath of smoke we surround it with. Pork butt. Brisket. Spare ribs. Back ribs. Whole birds and chicken wings alike. And bacon. Lots of bacon. Slow cooked bacon ready to be cut in from thick slabs into magical planks. Thank you pig, for all you do for us.

It is a menu that's rustic in its delivery and refined in its care. And it's crafted with hickory on the smoke side and apple and cherry wood on the pizza side. These aren't conveyor belt byproducts. These bear little resemblance to the frozen disks of surplus cheese that have come to pass for pizza today. No, Pizza Coco pies are fired in a 800 degree inferno until the cheese caramelizes and the ingredients bake into something incredible. No two pies are the same. It's the kind of oven, the kind of crafted pie, that can take two or three of your favorite toppings and deliver them a thousand different ways.

Here's to getting what you want, but didn't expect... Here's to a handcrafted, woodfired joint.

Clarkston Union
54 South Main Street
Clarkston  MI  48346
Phone:- 248 620 6100

Oh, and when Jim was staying last week, he cooked up Heston Blumenthal's Pulled Pork recipe and it was amazing!  Click here for the recipe - it takes a while but it's not difficult.


  1. I'm not sure, but I think you mashed up the two names. They're under the same ownership. One is The Woodshop and the other one is The Clarkston Union. And I would commit heinous crimes against orphans, widows and puppies if it meant I could have an unlimited supply of their mac n' cheese. It's that good. We went one time on a Friday evening and were given a 4 hour! wait. We chilled out in the upstairs bar and then lucked into another group that that given up waiting and gave us their beeper. We ended up only waiting about one hour, and then gave our beeper to Jeff's cousin who had randomly showed up with some of her friends, so their wait ended up being about an hour also. Damn good food!!

    1. Beth, I think you're right! Disaster! So, which one did we go to? It had the bar upstairs and was the "first" one in the street.

    2. You ate at The Woodshop. The Clarkston Union is in an old church.

    3. You're absolutely right! The other one did look a bit like a church. Okay, for those readers amongst you who get down far enough - it was The Woodshop in Clarkston. Not the Union Woodshop. And it was good.


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