Bistro Union 1

40 Abbeville Road , London, SW4 9NG

8 reviews

40 British Clapham

  • bistro union 2012
  • Bistro Union Restaurant London

SquareMeal Review of Bistro Union

With its daily specials written on rolls of brown paper, a bar adorned with homemade preserves, and pegs on the walls for hanging your coat – Bistro Union evokes the make-do-and-mend Britain of yore. Much of the menu produced by Adam Byatt’s team harks back to a time when food was primarily for comfort, reassurance and high-calorie fuel: there’s a breakfast fry-up, fish pie and toad in the hole for lunch, and rhubarb fool for pudding. Nevertheless, you’ll also find more interesting dishes that have left the nursery (and school dinners) behind. Try the grilled squid with parsley salad, served with a punch-packing aïoli; and finish off with a blackcurrant and almond tart (in essence, a very fine version of a Bakewell). Drinks include a couple of British sparklers, craft beers and ciders, but fear not: the wine list makes it easy to escape Blighty should you wish.

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6.8

Food & Drink: 7.3

Service: 5.4

Atmosphere: 6.6

Value: 6.3

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

Charlotte H. 14 April 2016

Had to send the rather anaemic looking, over-cooked steak back, but when a new version arrived it was much improved - the Sole was delicious. The waitress was a touch over friendly, but overall a pleasant evening.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Rebecca L. gold reviewer 19 October 2015

To say I was delighted with our experience at Bistro Union is an understatement - I asked my boyfriend in the cab home when we could go again. Bistro Union sets out to be a quirky, cosy, fun, reliable and delicious neighbourhood staple and that's precisely what it is. The food is just wonderful. Think old favourites made even better, such as the mackerel nicoise salad I had to start or the roasted tomato and leek macaroni and cheese I had for main. Others in my party had some old classics such as steak and chips and a fish pie which I'm reliably informed were all excellent. I always like something sweet at the end of a meal but am often too full so was delighted to be told that the bar snacks of the day included some sweet options and that I could try those. I had a small bakewell tart a few pieces of fudge - quite frankly the fudge was the best I've ever had and it must have contained some sort of highly addictive drug because I've craving it ever since. More restaurants need to include options like this, it was a brilliant end to the meal. The wine list is excellent and reasonably priced. The service really added to the whole experience. The staff and confident, warm and see to genuinely enjoy working there. We were given lots of information about the menu about the beginning of the evening and allergies or menu requests were handled very well. Can't recommend it highly enough!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Anne R. 17 March 2014

Restaurant is raved about in the local area. I went to try it. Tables are close together and leave insufficient room for wait staff to do their job properly. The steak-when it arrived was delicious. We had to wait too long for our order to be taken. My friend's fish pie was too dry. Pudding was lovely. I was shocked to see small children with iPads there when we went in at 7.45. Had they been eating I probably wouldn't have thought it worth commenting on but they were being sidelined with a gadget.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Hugo G. silver reviewer 07 October 2013

Certainly worth a visit for locals and adventurers alike. Interesting take on British Bistro with delicious assortment of starters – smoked sprats with horseradish and beetroot, anchovy toast, mussels in pear cider and a truly superb pickled quail salad which was easily the pick of the bunch. Wine list not overly complicated but broad, and offered in 500cl carafes on many selections. Good atmosphere, though a little pokey at the back. stick to the tables at the front in the bar area if you can. Definitely adds to the general buzz of the Abbeville gastro zone.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

BoatLady platinum reviewer 07 September 2012

I'm afraid Bistro Union didn't quite live up to my expectations of a Trinity-backed and Squaremeal-starred restaurant. I was here with 4 girlfriends for lunch and we went for a variety of sharing plates from the British tapas type menu and for me only one dish really hit the spot: the chicken liver pate was creamy and rich and was cut through beautifully by a cherry sauce topping. However, the spiced crab was just a spicey mess, the shrimp was more shrivelled up generic seafood, the pastry on the sausage roll thing overwhelmed the meat which lacked any distinctive flavour, broad beans (whilst attractively served grilled in their pods) a bit flavourless and tough, and anchovy toast just blah. Red Leicester cheese was good, but I presume that was not made on the premises! I like the fact that they bring you decent bread and water, both still and sparkling, in their house bottles and it's got quite a cutesy bistro decor with quirky touches like the menu coming in what looks like an old school book. The terrace would be a nice spot for a coffee on a sunny day but be warned that there are only a few tables out there so you're more likely to be inside. Sadly service isn't totally up to scratch with them taking a little too long to notice when you need a menu, not realising when you're ready to order, trying to clear when you haven't actually finished etc. At £15 a head it didn't make a dent in the wallet big enough for me to resent it, but given that the food wasn't that enjoyable it wasn't really good value for money. If you lived near Abbeville Road I dare say you'd be happy enough to come here occasionally but this really is just an average neighbourhood cafe and I wouldn't make the journey specially for it, unlike Trinity which is a destination restaurant in its own right. I like the British bistro idea so maybe with slightly better execution they could tempt me back.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Kim H. 04 June 2012

This is the cumulative effect of four trips to Bistro Union. Having just moved to Clapham we having been trying out the local restaurants and thought that we had found our favourite there. The food and service on our first three visits were very good and I in particular would recommend the fish pie and steak. Unfortunately our last trip has put paid to that. Despite having made a booking and there being empty tables we were asked to wait for 20 minutes for our table as their staff had incorrectly logged in our original booking. The waiter who took the original booking just ignored us while the manger made us wait 10 minutes while she tried to work out what to do. When asked why she would not give us one of the empty tables she stated that she would prefer for us to wait 20 minutes so she might not have to deal with another potential problem. Reluntantly she finally took us to a table at which point she told us that we should be more understanding about human error. I have to say I find this attitude appalling and despite the good food I will not be going again. When you make a mistake you should try and make the customer happy not antagonise them.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Gillian C. 08 March 2012

We visited the evening after the opening and were thrilled to find out we have such a fantastic restaurant on our doorstep. I don't think they anticipated how busy they might be because they had run out of the two starters we ordered but the waiting staff could not have been lovelier in recommending alternatives and even brought us some delicious smoked salmon – apparently smoked upstairs – while we made our decision. The evening continued to delight. The food was fantastic, the seabass and guinea fowl kiev were our mains and both were beautifully presented and tasted delish. The atmosphere was very relaxed but buzzy, the decor very ‘bistroy’ and the staff chatty, friendly and welcoming. They also made great wine recommendations to go with our food, and didn't recommend really expensive wines. As a huge fan of cheese, my only recommendation would be to have a greater selection on offer rather than just one cheese with apple. Still, we will definitely return and we wish the Bistro Union team great success on Abbeville Road, we're delighted to welcome you here.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 2.0

HB L. 27 February 2012

The air of hipster-chic pretentiousness emanating from the staff destroyed the casual bistro atmosphere one can only assume the owners are striving for. The bar snack menu was interesting. However, I found the fish finger sandwich very greasy and the vegetable sides were drenched in butter. The cold beef starter was tough. Mussels and chips were excellent. Nice wine menu which was fairly priced. I’d consider a return visit if they swapped the staff with the much friendlier people at Trinity.

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