Apart from its excellent cheap ethnic eats, Melbourne’s inner west isn’t exactly known for its destination dining. Food loving locals will be cheering the arrival of Union Food & Wine, a classy new bistro with top chef Stuart McVeigh at the helm.
British ex-pat McVeigh honed his remarkable culinary skills working at some of London’s most highly regarded Michelin-starred venues, including the iconic Pied a Terre in Fitzrovia. Since arriving in Melbourne almost a decade ago, he’s tossed pans with the likes of Paul Wilson (at The Botanical) and Raymond Capaldi (Fenix) before taking up the big role and winning accolades at No. 35 in the Sofitel, a role he resigned from in December last year.
As a proud western suburbs resident, McVeigh was keen to fill a niche with his first solo venture, fashioning an approachable, flexible, wine-focused bistro that was interesting enough to draw “not only locals”.
Aspiring to what McVeigh likes to call a “great neighbourhood bistro”, Union’s spacious, light-filled fit-out and seasonally driven, modern European menu welcomes diners with a balanced mix of the fancy and the familiar. Breakfast might be gingerbread hotcakes with poached quince and whipped ricotta or a classic fried big breakfast, all realised via the deft skills of a serious pro.
The combined lunch-dinner menu showcases some more refined offerings, while still maintaining a relaxed, rustic air and the cracking wine list and gracious, switched-on service comes courtesy of gun ex-Lake House sommelier James Bone.
It might be an early call, but we reckon McVeigh’s corned beef, creamed leek and mustard toastie has the mark of a cult classic written all over it. And with plans afoot for a between-services wine snack menu (in time for spring racing season) and a regular Sunday roast, McVeigh looks set to make more than a few new friends in the neighbourhood.