Nestled in the heart of Clapham, Bistro Union offers a chic addition to the neighbourhood dining scene.
The vibrant orange flowers on display outside offered a welcome retreat from an otherwise dreary and drizzly Monday and quickly warmed us to what was set to be a lovely evening.
As we entered we caught a glimpse of the fresh food we were about to eat, fresh charcuterie hung from the bar alongside the vast collection of wines and cocktails on offer. Elegant and inviting, this would be a lovely place to go for a drink in itself. This is one of the new, more refined elements of the restaurant’s recent revamp alongside a new chef and, most importantly, a new menu.
ELEGANT: The interior is cosy and welcoming.
With a pear and thyme bellini in hand, we opted to share a few starters, and were told the duck and liver parfait was ‘as good as Heston Blumenthal’s’. Having never tried the latter I can’t make a fair assessment but it was the stand out dish of the night for me and my guest for a reason. Often parfait can fall into the trap of being too creamy and the delicate flavours are lost, but here the flavour was perfect and went well with the fresh bread and sweet pear chutney.
PERFECT PARFAIT: The stand-out dish of the evening.
Music ranging from Elton John to Queen set a relaxed friendly tone to the night and made us feel at ease. The interior was cosy yet stylish with tea lights and fresh flowers adorning every table adding a warm feel to the minimalist decor. This added a very homey touch to an elegant dining experience that a lot of London restaurants lack – either through their generic set up or the servers’ clear keenness to free up your table.
The service, it must be said, was fantastic, and the sheer knowledge of each server was impressive in itself. Staff gave accurate and helpful suggestions – even going as far as suggesting different ways to eat the food.
A lot of thought has gone into the new menu and the careful crafting of the dishes is a key part of their success. We were recommended radish with smoked cods’ roe and seaweed powder, I cannot remember the last time, if ever, I chose to eat a radish – but, dipped in cods roe and wrapped in a leaf (we are told its peppery flavour counteracts the bitterness of the radish), I am a convert.
BALANCED: Each dish has clearly been carefully thought through.
There is a simplicity to the dishes which is refreshing, as although the food is of a high quality – it is not overwhelmingly rich – and this is an impressive balance to achieve. The pumpkin salad with roasted pumpkin seed dressing, goat’s cheese and a crispy sage infusion was fresh and delicious – simple yet sophisticated – and this is a theme that runs throughout the night.
Despite the artisanal feel of the menu there is nothing pretentious about the dishes, particularly given the generous portion sizes.
We move onto the mains, complementing the change in course with a change in wine, and are told we must try the white park beef – their signature dish. The chef chooses two different cuts of meat from the cow and decides on the specials of the day. I cannot fault the meat in any way – succulent, tender, and falling off the bone – however, the sides did pale slightly in comparison. The same can be said for the duck confit, which, while tender and soft, again, felt as if it was in a different league to its accompaniment of puy lentils and spinach.
The desserts really were in a league of their own, however. The brown butter tart particularly was just the right level of indulgence with a rich buttery pastry that did not leave us feeling like we had overeaten – which we most certainly had.
INDULGENT: The desserts were in a league of their own.
All in all our night at Bistro made for a delightful unwinding evening as three hours passed effortlessly.
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