Union Street Café

Bronze Award
££££
Bars, Italian, Mediterranean

Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
Union Street Café
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SquareMeal Review of Union Street Café

Bronze Award

With Gordon Ramsay's name proudly displayed in bright blue neon on the wall outside, there's no mistaking who's behind this eatery on Union Street. Warehouse chic, exposed brick walls and concrete floors might still be all the rage in Ramsay land, but this place also comes with a warm, friendly vibe and "fabulous" service – "it's just lovely every time we go", says one fan. The menu brings the Mediterranean to Southwark in the shape of, say, warm buffalo mozzarella wrapped in speck or refreshingly light gazpacho with raspberries and strawberries. Pasta is made fresh each day (our tagliolini with marjoram and mussels was spot-on), while whole lemon sole with peperonata and datterini tomatoes shows some serious skills. To finish, any mamma would be proud of the baked peaches filled with chocolate and amaretti. Round things off in the basement cocktail bar and you'll leave content.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Bars, Italian, Mediterranean
Ambience
Unique
People
Child friendly, Group dining [8+]

Union Street Café is featured in

SquareMeal Bronze Awards

Special offers from Union Street Café

Pre/post - theatre set menu: 2/3 courses £19 or £23

From: 2 January, 2019
To: 17 November, 2019
Max: 12
Enjoy 2 courses for £19 or 3 courses for £23
Availability: Mon-Fri 5:00PM-7:00PM 9:30PM-10:15PM

Add Prosecco to your Sunday ALC menu for £20

From: 8 August, 2019
To: 17 November, 2019
Max: 12
Add a 2 hour serving of Prosecco for an additional £20 to either of our Sunday menus; Enjoy a selection of Italian dishes from the Sunday Mangia & Bevi à la carte menu.
Availability: Sun 12:00PM-4:00PM

Location for Union Street Café

47-51 Great Suffolk Street, Southwark, London, SE1 0BS

020 7592 7977

Website

Opening Times

Mon-Wed 12N-12.30am Thur-Sat 12N-1am (Sun -6pm)

Reviews of Union Street Café

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13 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Benn H

Terrible! Will not be returning.
15 June 2018  
Arrived to find an all day party was just coming to an end downstairs so that area of the restaurant was closed. We were the only two other diners upstairs and every single member of staff ignored us to deal with the aftermath of the downstairs event. Sat at the bar for 15 minutes whilst the staff all chatted around the entrance, the chefs were all celebrating someones birthday in the kitchen. They seemed to go out of there way to make us feel unwanted and actually blanked us serval times when we asked for help. My partner ordered a drink and i was ignored. Eventually i was served, we were still the only two people in the place with about 6 members of staff all ignoring us. The dirty martini was absolutely awful, wine was ok. Quickly finished our drinks and left. The bar man was kind enough to add a £2.80 service charge to our drinks, what a joke. Complete waste of money and time. Honestly ive never experienced such terrible customer service in a restaurant. Cancelled our table and left very disappointed. Dont waste your time or money in this place.
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Ms/Mrs. David O

Pre-thatre at Union Street Cafe
02 December 2014  
The restaurant opens a little late (6pm) for pre-theatre meals. However, the excellent bar in the basement opens at 5pm. So the four of us met in the bar at 5.15 and enjoyed an excellent cocktail served by a charming waitress. We went up for dinner a little before 6pm and told our waitress what time our show started and she of course undertook to ensure our food was delivered promptly. From that point everything worked perfectly. The food is hard to fault. The fish courses are brilliant. There is a really good wine selection at fairly reasonable prices. Service is always good. I have been here before when time was not important. It's better that way! However, it was, as always, a great dining experience.
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Michelle R

06 July 2014  
We had an early sitting and I had advised I would be attending as I wanted a venue show round. When we did get there (after my crap navigation skills), the place was pretty empty but we are 30ish going on 80 and it was only 6.00 pm. Now, venue wise – its looks pretty cool. It has an open kitchen with an urban, industrial kind of feel to it. Like a warehouse however, still had an Italian canteen type of feeling. Union Street is an Italian restaurant which is not my favorite cuisine. Actually, rephrase that. I love Italian food but never eat it, like never for fear of chunking out. At work however, I need to know my restaurants so I needed to at least try it before I recommend it and I am glad I did. We started with a glass of the Ayala Brut Majeur NV at £10.00 a glass which was amazing and well priced and then ordered a bottle of red which for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of. The wine list I can assure you though was extensive and all reasonably well priced, for a range of budgets We were so hungry from our walk along the Thames that we decided on some antipasti to start. We ordered the tomino boscaiolo al forno & bruschetta crudaiola (£10) which (whilst smallish) the baked cheese that acompanied it was to die for! For mains we went for corn fed chicken breast, peperonata & spinach (£21) and Bradley had the Conrnish Hake “cartoccio stlye”), tomatoes, anchovy & capers (£22). Both tasty and quiet theatrical as they bring the fish out in a bag and cut it open in front of you #fance. Both meals were of a good size and well enjoyed. No dolci for us (we are athletes) however the menu looked good. Now, would I go back??? not for a private dinner (sorry) for a client event yes, for a business lunch yes, but for us, no. We don’t eat Italian food at the best of times and whilst I love the majority of the restaurants in the Ramsay group, this is not one of my favorites.
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Mr. Aymeric V

02 July 2014  
A bit empty on Tuesday night (but not completely dead either), service was excellent and the staff really helpful and polite. The octopus was really good, anchovy ok, linguini very good, gnocchi ok, sole and desserts very good. good value for wine I thought. it does not come cheap overall, but I would recommend it.
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Ms/Mrs. Simona F

29 March 2014  
Their frequently changing menu offers regional Italian specialities cooked with very good quality ingredients. I am originally from the south of Italy and some of the dishes are very authentic representations of regional dishes from Puglia, Sicily or Campania. Service is also very attentive. My favourite Ramsay restaurant.
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Mr. Lawrence V

20 March 2014  
Booked Union St for Friday evening expecting something a bit special. Drinks in downstairs bar first were ok, although service was a bit slow, given there weren't more than 20 customers and 3 staff. Same complaint in the upstairs dining room, where we had to push to get orders taken and deal with questions, more wine, etc. Food was hit and miss, with several of the dishes quite bland. Liked the venue, but otherwise not much memorable about the experience. Would not bother to go again or recommend.
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Buzzy brasserie
09 February 2014  
A nice place for a Saturday night bit of buzz whilst you eat. But it's just as well I went for the conversation rather than the food. My friend picked quite well (cod main), but my choices were bland at best (rizotto). I would have expected a more Italian and better wine list too but it was disappointing. Overall a nice vibe and nothing to complain about but I expected more from the name and the price tag – it felt like the name above the door added a third to the bill with nothing to show for it.
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Mr. Jan D

What's not to like...?
09 January 2014  
I have never been a Ramsay fan so I came here prepared and ready to criticise – I didn't get a chance! To me this was everything a restaurant/café should be – good atmosphere, good food, fun vibe and decent attentive service. So good in fact that we have been there twice in one month – an accolade attributed only to very rare culinary gems such as Zucca on Bermondsey Street!! This place ticked all four boxes. OK – the decor will not be to everyone's liking : industrial chic meets über trendy contemporary design but in this location it works. Would you take clients there to discuss the terms of the next contract over dinner? No. Too noisy, too brash and too hip. But you would certainly take them there to celebrate having signed the contract! The music is classy and helps create a good vibe and once the place fills up with people, it's loud and vivacious. The food is all very well cooked and well presented although if you don't have at least a smattering of Italian the menu is certainly a challenge being a) all in Italian and b) written in a scrolly nigh-on illegible script! Our initial waiter (who was both Italian and delightful) did admit to rather a sore throat after having gone through and explained the entire menu for us!! That said, when the food came there were plenty of complimentary “ooo's and aaghs” all round and the white truffle pasta was to die for!! They are also more than willing to bend the menu to your liking (e.g. substituting a pasta for rice or making a main course into a starter), which must be a real pain for the kitchen but was offered unhesitatingly. The service overall was certainly not faultless but quite a treat: here one is never quite sure who is looking after your table and so you end up grabbing the closest waiter which can sometimes lead to confusion – but it was quite attentive without being annoying and was friendly without being too “in your face”. If you show them some respectful interest in what they do, they really appreciate it and try to make you feel special. We made some inquisitive remarks to the maitre'd (another charming guy) about some of the techniques used to create one of our dishes and he kindly arranged for us to visit the kitchen after dinner and to meet Davide Degiovanni – the head chef. Davide is a true gentleman: a talented chef, proud of what he creates (rightly so!) and nothing was too much trouble for him to explain or show (no Ramsay histrionics here!!) – so much so that we started to feel guilty that we were taking up too much of his time!! The wine list is a treat, the sommelier both helpful and knowledgeable and the wine list is reasonably priced with a few gems, particularly if you like Italian South Tyrol bottles. All in all, although it is far from cheap (cocktails, wine and digestifs will ensure that you run towards 3 figures/head), it is nevertheless good value and an absolute treasure for the area. And, being a Chelsea fan, I am perfectly happy that Beckham is not involved in the place!!
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Ms/Mrs. Monika S

NY Italian in Southwark
28 October 2013  
Mr Ramsey, you either love him or loathe him, I am off the former. Union Street Cafe is Ramsey Holdings first addition to London's ‘Souf East’. Lots of hype in the papers, divisive reviews and a non-existant Beckham. At the end of a hard week at work, I was not expecting much but I was completely and utterly smitten. First impressions are important and the cavernous space, industrial chic, exposed piping and mid century design had the wow factor. The tables are widely spaced out, reminded me of sitting A-levels in the school gym, desks spaced so far that you couldn't copy. Similar feeling, but it just meant we could have a very private conversation and still feel part of the buzz. Within minutes, I was bowled over by the service, genuinely friendly, accommodating and charming. The menu on the other hand was like reading Sanskrit (complex Hindu language), as it was all in Italian, curly wurly writing and dim lighting. However, the waiter seemed to pre-empt this and was by our side, elegantly deciphering. Food is Italian heavy with primi and secondi dishes. I had the calamari fritters, delicious and light with capers but needed some acidic garlicky aioli (I know, wrong country). My rabbit tagilioni was perfect comfort food on a friday night , al dente buttery pasta, rich deep chunks of tender rabbit, I could have licked the plate clean. The duck was also crisped and ducky. There are a good range of dishes, with interesting seafood (grouper) and polpo and a few pasta dishes, although I kept forgetting the translations. We then popped into the bar downstairs for a final brandy, which is a destination in itself (a bit like Hix's bar in Soho), lots of inviting leather chesterfields, sultry lighting, cool ‘toons’, amazing bar staff (a special thanks to Abdul, bar manager and a very helpful waitress). I was at Merchant's tavern, the previous week and it just did not have that ‘X-factor’ feel, reviews say GR did not create a Brooklyn vibe here but what ever vibe he has created, works and the food matches it. I liked it so much, I have booked our xmas do there. Give Gordon another chance.
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Mr. Toby N

Golden, not balls
22 October 2013  
Union Street Café is the new venture from Gordon Ramsay – a man now as famous for his marathons, triathlons and talk show appearances as he is for his dinners – but without goldenballs himself, David Beckham, who apparently pulled out of the reported partnership just days before the launch. If Becks’ purported involvement was just a stunt to ensure publicity and drive a flurry of bookings it certainly worked, but was almost entirely unnecessary as this restaurant is good enough to stand on its own. Ramsay’s ventures tend to range from the amazing (Royal Hospital Road, Petrus) to the unexceptional (The Narrow, Maze, Foxtrot Oscar) with the misses probably outweighing the hits and his being somewhat overshadowed by former protégés e.g. Jason Atherton, Angela Hartnett etc. But Union Street is definitely a hit for me. The décor and atmosphere are one of those things that will divide people; personally I loved them even though they are a bit self consciously try hard not to be trying hard looks. Tables are decently spaced – such a rarity in London – and seating is comfortable. The restaurant itself is an old warehouse and many traces of this remain – the steel shutters from loading bays, concrete floors, chipped pillars, and no nice neat ceilings, but instead visible cables and ducting. However, added to this is some artwork that could best be described as contemporary (i.e. some people will hate it, some love it), lots of leather banquettes, a bar with some sexy lights etc. There is some, non intrusive, music though it does get noisy at it fills up (it was quiet at 7.30 when we arrived, but by 8.30 there was scarcely a seat in the house and a couple of walk up customers were sent away for not having been lucky enough to have been amongst the thousands who rushed to book) due to all those hard surfaces. Incidentally the menu itself is really hard to read, they use a pale loopy font, almost as bad as comic sans, and it’s a curious mix of proper Italian with occasional English flourishes on a single, floppy, sheet of paper. Customers are a real mix, and I suspect driven as much by people who were handy with an online booking system as those who would normally go to somewhere like this. From the middle aged couples, through to the people on dates, the glam girls in the corner drinking cocktails and posting pictures of each other on Facebook/Twitter and what looked like a business party all in suits and looking miserable at having to spend the evening together. Service is very good, not quite perfect, but that might just be because it’s still early days. You don’t get a single waiter(ess) throughout, instead they go for the first person to get to you each time. This does lead to a few small issues e.g. with some people not able to translate the dishes from the Italian on the menu so that you don’t resort to Googling on a smartphone, a slightly long wait for dessert menus when several people failed to catch our eye and the person taking our payment being by far the least charming member of staff we encountered all evening, but fix these few small grumbles and it’ll be bang on. Food is really good and I fail to see how anyone can describe it otherwise. 3 of us all ate different dishes for each course and no one had a single thing negative to report. I started with mushroom risotto, it arrived properly hot, which is always a good start, nice consistency and warm flavours. This was followed by sea bass in an, almost stew like, mix of borlotti beans and parma ham accompanied by rosemary potatoes and deep fried courgette – the fish was firm and the ‘stew’ had a nice spicy, filling flavour, the courgettes (always a personal favourite) weren’t quite as good as the benchmark that is set by Daphne’s, but the rosemary potatoes were wonderful – crisp on the outside, fluffy inside and the sort of roast potatoes you can only dream about (I’d go back just for them, even if everything else was horrible). Dessert was panacotta with figs and grappa, really unappetising looking – it was presented resembling, and there is not a good way of putting this, a silicone implant from all those news reports about PIP – but tasted great; frequently the grappa is so massively overdone that all you taste is the burn of cheapish alcohol, but here the grappa was in the panacotta rather than the figs and gave things just the right bite. Do lose points though for a very limited dessert selection, essentially 4 options, 2 of which were variants on panacotta, one ice cream and one grape tart, with the addition of a cheese selection and one of the 4 dessert options (the grape tart, which at least 2 of us would have ordered) was apparently sold out – not really good enough at just 8.45 on a Monday night! Prices are good value; 3 people, 3 courses, wine, water and service came to just over £55 per head – and there is a decent selection of reasonably priced wines available, no need to start at the £50 upwards that a Mayfair postcode would bring. I’d go back without hesitation though it’s booked up quite a long way in advance; it’s a really good addition to what someone, erringly, labelled a run down bit of south London. Well done Mr Ramsay.
Food & Drink
Service
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Value

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