On a Sunday night particularly if I've spent the entire day doing university work; but maybe even because you just don't want to cook, or because it's cold, or because your family are driving you nuts and you need a drink ... it's great to have a local pub with decent food. At my end of Newtown that's The Union.
From the outside it looks a little dodgy like many inner West pubs. The walls are tiled, they're showing sport in the main room and the decor is what you might call... utilitarian. Step inside and through the back and instead you find yourself in a warm friendly family pub bistro, the TVs are showing the Sunday night family movie at muted volume. They're playing The Cure softly as well, because this is Newtown after all, and most of the pub are young families or alternative types talking media analysis. In short I feel pretty at home.
Herb and garlic bread $5
The garlic bread looks a little sad with its burnt corner! If you like that overly soft pizza chain garlic bread you'll like this, though it is thankfully much less oily than most pizza places. Not the best item on their menu.
This month's special - Warm crisp pork belly and apple salad with matched drink $19
Admittedly I am drawn to this dish primarily because it comes with a large glass of Bulmer's cider but on arrival I'm very happy with the results. Sharp but not overpowering balsamic are dashed on sweet fruit that hits the perfect note with the crisped meat and fat of the pork. For pub bistro food this is top notch and I make strange little noises as I chase the last of the crackled pork around the plate.
Sunday night roast with vegies $12
There's something quite homely about a roast counter meal in a pub isn't there? I don't know that there's much to say about this, it's certainly not fancy but the meat isn't overcooked and is fairly moist. The gravy I suspect comes from a packet but there's definitely some induced meat fat in there. The vegetables are well cooked and not overdone either. It's not high class but it does certainly hit the spot especially given the price and certainly not a bad rendition of a pub classic.
Chicken parmiggiana with mashed potato and vegetables $18
Not the cheapest chicken parmiggiana in the inner city but its much better quality than most pubs. The meat is well cooked and moist, the bread crumb not too oily. The sauce is fresh and the cheese is actual fresh mozzarella. This brings a classic pub meal up to the inner ring suburbia lifestyle.
Zucchini and sweet corn fritters with grilled haloumi $14
I have a love affair with sweet corn that I'm well known for, and corn fritters in particular are a favourite of mine. To find out I can have them and call it dinner rather than having to seek out Sunday brunch cafes with it listed on their menu is music to my ears. I suspect when I order that I will get one limp piece of haloumi on the side and am happy to see most of a block cut up and grilled with my food. The fritters are well made and served over a wilted spinach salad with tomatoes and a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon.
I do the happy food dance and vow to return.
The Union really is a classic pub bistro brought upscale just enough to appeal to the professional queers and goths who can still afford King St rent but not so much that it detracts from the rest of the Newtown and Marrickville regulars. The drinks are cheap, the atmosphere is pleasant and unrowdy and the service is pretty fast. For pub food its very satisfying and their regular list of well thought out specials is worth a look over.
The Union Hotel
576 King St
Newtown NSW 2040
Fully licensed, pub atmosphere but children and family groups welcome so long as children are supervised
Walk in, no reservations required