REVIEW: Bistro Union, Clapham
5:26pm Tuesday 28th February 2012 in Freetime
If you’d asked me 2 weeks ago what was the best restaurant in Clapham, I would have answered with no hesitation – Trinity.
However it is two weeks on and a serious contender for the title has just opened – the more relaxed, informal Bistro Union. The good news for Trinity is that it is their sister restaurant, so whichever way you look at it the team win.
The menu consists of British classics such as fish pie, suckling pig and toad in the hole. For starters we went for beer and onion soup with welsh rarebit (£5) and a lobster cocktail (£12).
The beer and onion soup was both light and hearty and the welsh rarebit a crispy cheesy delight on the side – a great way to start.
The lobster cocktail was less successful in that the smoky paprika in the dressing overpowered the delicate lobster.
Although it was tasty you couldn’t tell it was lobster which was a waste of a luxury ingredient. They may as well stick with traditional prawns and halve the price.
Along came our main course; a roast chicken to share between two (£15pp) with game chips, pigs in blankets, roast onions, bread sauce and gravy and we added some chips on the side (£3).
The chicken arrived end-up in a large roasting pan surrounded by its accompaniments with 2 knives sticking out ready for a DIY table carve.
It is not easy carving an end up chicken in a full restaurant, but this was no time to be shy as it looked so good.
I went in for the kill slicing off big hunks of meat, the chicken was delicious - moist, juicy flesh surrounded by crispy skin, the pigs in blankets made with top quality herby sausages and the bread sauce a masterstroke of texture and flavour.
The chips were crispy and chunky and dunked into the gravy they made me a very happy man – if my last meal ended up being Bistro Union chips and gravy I wouldn’t grumble.
When we had finished the roasting dish was a mess of gravy and chicken carcass but we felt like we’d done it justice as we ploughed onto desserts.
When you’re stuffed with roast chicken and an incredible dessert menu appears and you can’t decide what to eat there is only one responsible thing to do – order 4 things and we did.
We had apple cobbler (£5) which was surprisingly light and had custard cooked inside; rhubarb and custard (£4) was top notch, the rhubarb firm and tart, the necessary sweetness provided by the custard; Eccles cake ice cream (£2) this should become a standard if it is always going to be this good and a deep fried cherry pie (£3) with heavenly crisp pastry and a generous supply of cherries.
In short, they do desserts very well here and not one bum note.
Bistro Union – you are a most welcome addition to the hood. If you live nearby - go. If you don’t live nearby – make the journey, you won’t be disappointed.
3 course meal for 2 with drinks and service £90
Bistro Union, 40 Abbeville Road, Clapham, London, SW4 9NG, www.bistrounion.com 020 7042 6400
Mark Bixter is a food writer who runs the blog http://michelinmicrowave.wordpress.com/