Where: 169 Union Road, Ascot Vale
When: Wed to Fri- lunch, dinner, Sat- breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sun- breakfast, lunch
Contact: (03) 9372 7566
Ascot Vale’s rather drab Union Road shopping strip is brightened by Union Food and Wine; a light-filled café with a short, beautiful menu and a relaxed vibe. The reasonable prices and casual setting make the rather fancy menu options feel even more special. After just a few minutes you get the feeling that this is a café that offers a little more; an extensive wine list and dinner in the later half of the week. The waiters are very personable, and seem to really care a great deal about what they do.
Dining Partner and I ordered coffee, the heirloom carrot salad with sultanas, mint, oregano and parsley dressing ($10) and the warm ciabatta roll with pulled beef short rib, celeriac remoulade and onion rings ($15).
Although our coffees had all the potential in craftsmanship and beans, they were far too milky for our liking.
The salad’s generous and indulgent dressing played up the sweetness of the tender carrots without overpowering and the sultanas provided a nice accent too. It was very garlicky and oily (perhaps too oily) but still felt very fresh.
Heirloom carrot salad with sultanas, mint, oregano and parsley dressing ($10)
The pulled beef ciabatta was unapologetically stodgy; in all its shades of beige and brown. The meat had a delicate sweetness but was so incredibly oily that it soaked through the bun and took away any freshness the celeriac remoulade could have offered. The onion rings were flawless; piping hot and crispy, with a sweet, juicy flesh. If not for the excess of oil, its flavour so strong, then it would have been a delicious meal.
Warm ciabatta roll with pulled beef short rib, celeriac remoulade and onion rings ($15)
The star of our meal was the dessert; soft chocolate with spiced quince, gingerbread and honeycomb ($13). The gorgeous lick of dark chocolate cream matched the exciting gingerbread pieces and honeycomb beautifully. I was not a fan of the accompanying sultana and vanilla ice-cream but it wasn’t too bad. This felt like the sort of dessert you’d have with a nice wine and a whole lot of special-occasion.
Soft chocolate with spiced quince, gingerbread and honeycomb ($13)
Union Food and Wine is an impressive and friendly little place that ticks a number of boxes; communal dining, casual coffee, romantic meal. Apart from the standard lunch menu neglecting to cater to vegetarians, the café appears to have something for everyone.