Pub grub is a nuanced phrase of the Anglo-Australian vernacular. It conujures images of pies and peas, bangers and mash, schnitzels and all manner of battered goodness. But elegant pub dining has been going big recently, and Le Bistro at The Union Hotel is another spot for casual pub dining that’s just a bit fancy.
A glance at the menu quickly reveals it’s not your typical pub tucker: escargots as an entrée for one, or the selection of pissaladières for another. Chermoula spiced lamb ribs served with lemon and yoghurt are a lipsmacking, fingerlickin’ starter, but ask for share plates if you are doing so or things can get a bit messy. They are delightfully tangy with the meat tender and flavoursome, if occasionally gristly.
If, like me, you enjoy the thought of a dish that has spent 15 hours psyching up to be eaten by you, the braised beef cheeks should not disappoint. It hearkens back to pub grub of old, creamy comfort food, falling apart and filling your belly. Sweet pickled radish and baby onions do well to cut through the heavy dish. On the other end of the scale you can opt for a grilled salmon with asparagus in citrus buerre blanc with dill and chervil, all served under a fancy hash brown parasol – or potato galette.
Even the desserts here are enticingly quirky. Chocolate torte with blueberries and popping candy has a slightly smoky flavour to it and plays nicely to round out the meal on a sweet note. Fig pudding with salted caramel ice cream is very figgy but could probably be a little more salty. Still it follows perfectly with the theme of hearty comforting dishes. Although, call me crazy, but I feel like homey pudding type desserts always taste better when served in a bowl.
The staff are friendly, and the food is generous, adventurous and hits the spot. And, last but not least, the restrooms have all the flair of a belle époque boudoir. What more could you ask of your friendly local?
The Union Hotel
271 Pacific Highway (Cnr West St)
North Sydney 2060
Le Bistro Bookings: (02) 9955 5844