From a quick glance at the review categories on my homepage it’s immediately apparent that I live in Richmond. As of today, that’s where over a third of my Melbourne reviews are from. I need to get out more, I know. However, I can’t help but feel like there are still so many places in Richmond that I must try out. If someone asks me about a local place that I haven’t been to I get this strange sense of inadequacy. This is my homeground! I must know everything!
Now, that strange and lengthy introduction was my way of justifying why I’m writing up Richmond review no. 17. This time I visited Union Dining on Swan street.
Chargrilled cuttlefish salad ($21 small, $31 large)
Tender grilled cuttlefish was served with juicy raisins and a refreshing tomato vinaigrette. Shredded cabbage salad and crunchy breadcrumbs added texture and body. The flavours were bold and vibrant. Definitely a salad I would eat again.
Confit duck leg salad, ($21 small, $31 large)
The duck was, as confit duck always is, tender and rich. The classic pairing with currants and orange was perfect. Toasty hazelnuts and tart pickled beetroot rounded it out well.
Pan roasted Cone Bay barramundi ($36.50)
The fish flaked perfectly and the skin was lovely and crisp. The aromatic broth had sweet notes of coriander which complimented the seafood well. The dukkah contributed some spice and crunch, while the pearl couscous had a little chewy resistance to keep things interesting.
Apples baked á la tatin ($15)
Soft caramelised apples sat on a small round of buttery shortbread, accompanied by lemon ice cream. When I saw this on the menu I wasn’t entirely sure about the combination, but the lemon’s tartness was actually quite a good foil for the sweetness of the apples. The apples were nicely tender without being mushy, but unfortunately the shortbread was a little thick for my liking and a tad on the bland side. It was a satisfying dessert but not the best tarte tatin I’ve had.
This was part of a large work group dinner of around 10 people, amongst which a number of starter and side plates were shared. Of these I only had the two salads listed above and at the end of the meal felt as though I had eaten a reasonable amount. Based on this, let’s assume that at a hypothetical ‘standard’ dinner for two people at Union they will share two small plates and then order a main and dessert each. Using the meal prices above it would come to roughly $72 each. A little pricey considering the quantity of food served (I know it’s a completely different cuisine, but Red Spice Road’s fantastic $75 full 9-course banquet comes to mind as a comparison).
Was the food good? Yes. Exceptional? I’ll have to think about that. So, why did I leave Union Dining with a smile on my face and a resolution to come back?
The service was seamless, accommodating and warm. Staff were happy to offer menu changes to suit dietary requirements and provide definitions of foodie jargon.
The place had a fine dining menu, but very much a laid-back atmosphere with its posh-pub decor. It didn’t have that air or ‘fanciness’ of your typical good food guide entry, which I think works very much in its favour. I can imagine it would be a great place for awkward family get-togethers, work dinners (as in this case) or any situation where you’re not really aware of your fellow diners’ experience with Refined Dining (or lack thereof). A pleasant, non-intimidating option. I hope that sounds as complimentary as I meant it to be.
Anyway, go to Union. As long as you have a few $ up your sleeve.Union Dining 270 Swan Street Richmond