Review: Bistro Union, Clapham


Adam Byatt’s restaurant serves quintessentially British food.


By Charlotte Goodwin and Liane Lau

Situated on Abbeville Road in Clapham, one could stroll past the old-school Bistro Union with ease.

But once you walk inside, mustard tiles decorate the bar, stools are reminiscent of home economics classes and menus are disguised as exercise books.

Bistro Union has been open two years, playing host to celebrity diners including True Blood actress Anna Paquin, celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr, and film actor Jason Flemming.

The inspiration behind this is Adam Byatt, executive chef and owner. He wanted to own an eatery that served everyday food with a British twist, and British it is.

Snacking on smoked pigs cheek, pickled cockles and devils on horseback, we spent a considerable amount of time studying the menu, while the smoky flavour from the pigs cheek on fresh bread lined our stomachs.

Going back to school, we opted for smoked salmon on soda bread and deep sea mussels cooked in perry for starters, and steak with chips for the main course.

Fresh and succulent mussels are received by the bucket load, and the smoked salmon is, to our delight, smoked on site.

For one terrifying moment, we thought we wouldn’t have room for mains, let alone desserts, as the portion sizes were so generous.

The steak served at Bistro Union holds the true meaning of ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ steak. Medium-rare, tender and succulent, it was the highlight of our visit. Served with a side of chips and mustard seed adorned salad, we struggled to finish our meal.

Finishing off with a serving of tea and homemade ice cream presented in traditional jars, we fought for the last spoonful of the chestnut flavour.

Keira Pearse, manager of Bistro Union, said sourcing ingredients locally was central to their success.

“We see professionals and young families come in and have a lot of repeat customers who all live in the area,” said Keira.

“It is key that we are a British bistro, and it is part of our unique selling point and ethos.”

The welcoming, community feel of the restaurant ties in with thespirit of the area, as adjacent businesses are known to help and support each other.

“Fashions are moving away from classic french food. We do classic food done well with good ingredients,” said Keira.

“We do everything we can to source locally, and about 50 per cent of our alcohol is British.”

Bistro Union is the sister restaurant to Trinity, a three rosette restaurant in Clapham Old Town. Only time will tell if owner Adam Byatt completes this trinity with a divine third.

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