Union Street Cafe is the latest restaurant from Gordon Ramsay Holdings and is in fact NOT a joint venture between himself and David Beckham – rather sadly. Notice how they did nothing to dispel those rumours though!
Based just a short stroll from Southwark tube, the restaurant is a rather beautiful one. It’s got that ever familiar look of exposed pipes and warehouse chic but it doesn’t feel drafty or uncomfortable. The bar down in the basement is also a looker and definitely worth a visit on its own.
The menu, printed with the date on the top, was Italian through and through meaning we had to get our waiter to translate nearly every dish – which he gladly and very descriptively did. Not bad considering it was only their second official day of opening.
From the Aperitvo (nibbles) section we ordered some Parmiagano skin (£3) and culatello and gnocchi fritto (£3). The first were little chunks of baked Parmesan rind – which were as pungent as you can imagine but surprisingly moreish – especially dunked in the tangy balsamic. The latter were little potato puffs wrapped in the thinnest and most beautiful prosciutto I’ve ever encountered.
For antipasti (starter), I opted for the calamari fritti (£7) which was served atop a slice of sweet beefsteak tomato which was just divine. The calamari was soft and the batter that encased it crunchy; it was perfect.
My gentleman companion went for the Fassone beef carpaccio and Parmiagano Vacche rosse (£9) and it was by far the best carpaccio we’ve come across. The meat was soft and delicate yet full of beefy flavour and the chunks of cheese added some much needed saltiness.
Seeing as we were both rather hungry we decided to have a pasta before moving onto to secondi (main). I had the ravioli, burrata and caffe (£9) which was delicious. Perfectly made, perfectly cooked and sitting in a nutty butter sauce – each mouthful was heavenly.
My gentleman companion’s tagliolini, rabbit, and taggiasche olives (£9) didn’t look as pretty as mine but was equally flavourful and the rabbit was anything but dry. All their pasta is made fresh in the kitchen daily which is good to know.
For main I opted for the saltinbocca di vitello, Marsala and fried zucchini (£18) which was a veal escalope wrapped in ham. I don’t think words could describe how delicious the veal was; juicy, tender, incredible, simply don’t do it justice. The fried zucchini were a great match but I think a third element, maybe a potato, was missing as it left me feeling a little peckish. Ruddy lovely though.
My gentleman companion went for the spalla d’agnello, Sicilian aubergine and salted buffalo ricotta (£15) which was very good too. A big hunk of tender lamb was packed full of flavour and the tangy ricotta cut through the rich fattiness of the meat brilliantly.
We shared both puddings. The budino, d’amaretti and cacao (£6) was like a chocolate creme caramel and although it looked awfully rich it was in fact very light and most enjoyable. The torta d’arachidi, chocolate and cappuccino (£6) was a chocolate brownie jam packed full off nuts which was delicious. A small jug of cappuccino was poured over the whole thing (those crazy Italians!) which was a bit weird but actually rather tasty.
Although we had eaten a lot of food we didn’t feel particularly stuffed – and the fact we had eaten four courses meant our bill was slightly more than we would have hoped for. That said, I couldn’t fault the food – it was some of the tastiest I’ve eaten in a long time. The service was great too; considering the restaurant had only just opened, every member of staff served us like they’d been doing it for years. I really liked Union Street Cafe and can definitely see myself going back.
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