The Union Market Bar
I suspect the Union Market, set in what was Fulham Broadway station, wants to be Fulham’s answer to Borough Market. It’s a small collection of specialist food shops with a couple of food bars. Pristine and brightly lit, it brings to mind Delia meets River Cottage and I am guessing is targeted firmly at the nappy valley inhabitants of Parson’s Green rather than the regular shoppers at the North End Road Market, a few minutes away.
A few weeks ago I had builders in the flat and felt the need to escape at lunchtime to some kind of sanity. I wandered into the Union Market, had a quick browse around the shops and then settled down to a rather excellent steak sandwich at the eat-in bar at the back of the Market. The service was great, the steak sandwich perfectly cooked and served with some fabulous home-made chunky chips. The bill as I remember was around £13 for the sandwich and a large glass of wine. I made a mental note to return at some point and try it out again.
It seemed like the ideal place to go for lunch today, with a girlfriend who I haven’t seen for a while. Sadly the steak sandwich wasn’t on the menu or I would have ordered that again, but there were burgers. We ordered drinks, which arrived quickly, although the teapot used to serve my friend’s tea would have shocked Delia with its rather stained spout and loose leaves in the pot but no strainer provided. We waited for someone to come and ask if we wanted food, but were ignored until we pointedly outstared the waiter! My friend ordered the lamb burger, I chose the beef. We had a brief conversation with the waiter about how they should be cooked (both of us asked for well-done, with me explaining in pseudo foodie style why I’d always order a burger well-cooked unless I was making it myself).
The food arrived quickly and looked very pretty, although the narrow wooden platters were a little overwhelmed by the burgers. But, my friend’s burger bun was really quite ‘over-charred’ and at this point I felt the service was let down again with no offer of mustard or mayo (there were a couple of tomato sauce variants on the table). And, I was given the lamb burger that my friend had ordered, while she got my beef. It wasn’t until we’d both had a mouthful or two that we realised…and at that point, she also noticed how beautifully ‘pink’ the middle of her burger was. Not rare…but definitely not well done (that was the bun perhaps?)
Well, we did say something and we were offered a discount and a replacement. I’d still go back there, the lamb burger I ate was really very nice, the coffee was good and fresh and the bill moderate (burgers £8 including chips and garnish) . We looked enviously at the club sandwich and smoked salmon and poached egg muffin order for the next door table, my impression is that the food is simple, good quality ‘real’ food without frills. But, I hope the service doesn’t degenerate any further. While it’s a café, not a Michelin star restaurant, we noticed a few people lurking and waiting to be shown a table, then walking away. And, it wasn’t busy.
Do I shop there? No, I go to Waitrose for my day to day stuff and to the street market for the fruit and veg I plan using quickly. For special stuff I make my way to Borough, with a wad of cash as a ‘budget’ or for game or meat, I go to H G Walter. The cheeses at Union Market DO look exceptionally good as does the meat counter with grouse currently for sale at £10 a bird, so perhaps I’ll go back and give it a try.