Union Street Café I
generally think of Southwark as the stop between Waterloo and London Bridge. With the wonders of Borough Market on the one side and some of London’s best theaters on the other, it always seems like a grey area, waiting to happen. With Union Street Café, perhaps the wait is over. The restaurant has an inner city vibe. Neo-raw. The decorator has left the old warehouse mostly intact and simply added some seating areas and art. ‘Simply’, ha! It looks effortless but actually took a great deal of thought. Very effective. I felt totally trendy. Effortless takes skill. Chef Davide Giovanni also has the knack. His years in Michelin-star restaurants make his food seem easy. Good ingredients supplied largely from small Italian artisan producers are well prepared, served simply and at near-café prices. So, to cocktails in the high ceilinged basement lounge. Sofas, Persian carpets, edgy art, cool music and a great bartender. A Southwark 24 (£9.50) was a tasty, slightly too bitter concoction but a CC10 was divine:
30 July 2015
Tanqueray 10 gin with camomile and chilli syrup and Aperol (£9) was amazing. G & C. Yes! Asparagus with egg yolk, capers and pecorino was fabulous. The first asparagus of the year, flown in that morning from Italy was the best ever. Spiky artichokes, rocket, Taggiasche olives and Pecorino Romano (£8) was another example of Giovanni’s nomucking-about style of food. Good ingredients in a good combination. For the wine pairings, we put ourselves in the capable hands of the sommelier. For this course he poured a Portuguese Pynga 2010 (£7.90). White wines from Portugal are trending at the mo, and this showed why. Lots of mineral and very dry, it was great with the veg starters. Light as a feather gnocchi, robiola cheese, ‘calcot’ onion (scallions) and Sardinian tomato (£9) was delicate, rather than packed with flavor. I would have chosen a red wine with the pasta, but the full body and fruitiness of the Terlaner Classico 2013 (£11) made a good alternative.
47 – 51 Great Suffolk Street, London SE1 OBS
IMAGES ©CHARLIE RICHARDS
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick Hake, speck, fennel, fresh peas and wild garlic purée (£21) was super. It is often the “little” things that rock my boat, and here it was the garlic, full of taste without overpowering the rest. Likewise, the addition of Ricotta to the Duck legs, Ligurian Chard and Balsamic: the dots of cheese melted, turning the juices into a glorious cream. A great recipe, undermined by overcooked duck. Pinot Noir seemed a good choice for duck and fish, but a Bourgogne “La Moutonniere” 2012 (£10.75) was thin rather than light. Chocolate torta with vanilla ice cream and pecans (£7) was dark and rich and Amalfi lemon cremoso, pecan crumble and fior di latte gelato (£7) was superb. Light, great balance of sweet and sour and the delightful discovery that lemon and pecan are a perfect pair. Service is excellent all the way through. Congenial, competent and seemingly, as diverse as London itself, cementing the urban dining concept. Southwark has arrived.