While the padded white booths in the upstairs showpiece Uncorked are now only reserved for functions, there’s still reason to visit The Union Hotel to eat. Le Bistro reads like a hybrid of a traditional pub menu with elements of the Gallagher Hotels’ runaway success – Le Pub. The menu recognises that steaks and schnitzels are pub staples, while still adding a bit of flair for those who want something more interesting. There’s also a definite focus on group dining, including a strong hors d’oeuvres selection. The “dogs” I loved at Le Pub Balmain have migrated over, sadly without the same crusty buns. The Pulled Pork Dog ($6) edges out the Marinated Chicken Dog ($6) on flavour, but still doesn’t come close to the lamb. Duck and ‘Slaw Open Steamed Buns ($14/2) have the kind of alcohol-absorbing qualities I like when I’m settling in to drink; while the flavoursome Pea and Parmesan Croquettes ($15.50) with truffled pecorino, pea puree and mint, aren’t just put on there for vegetarians. Accompany either with the Jean Luc Mader Pinot Blanc ($56/bottle) before advancing to the Fickle Mistress Central Otago Pinot Noir ($15/glass) with your Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder ($25). Labne breaks up the intensely flavoured chickpea and pimento ragu. You need a bowl of the Union Waffle Chips ($10) too.
The Union Hotel
271 Pacific Highway, North Sydney
Ph: (02) 9955 5844 unionhotel.com.au
Pub Bistro $$-$$$