[Rye, East Sussex] The Union

Travelling is always a risky business when it comes to eating out. But the Union is one of those places that you hope you’ll come across. The sort where, if it was local to you, you’d visit now and again. Not a “special occasion” sort of place but for a decent midweek dinner. And, at the present time, one that has considered its Covid-secure arrangements, concluding that they’ll space the tables, have windows open (it was a warm September night) and have sanitiser available. No mask wearing, though – this was a couple of days before the change in restrictions which now require staff to wear masks. Like many buildings is Rye, there’s history here – this is a 15th century construction.

As for the food, it’s a good looking short menu – maybe half a dozen or so choices at each course. It leans towards “local and seasonal” food and I’d have happily ordered any of the offerings. As it was, we both ordered the same starter – crab from just down the road at Dungeness. It’s a generous portion, mixed with chopped heritage new potato and topped with a few sprigs of watercress. It was fine but would have benefitted from the addition of “something”. A squeeze of lemon, a shake or two of Tabasco, or a bit of spring onion – that sort of something, just to perk it up a bit.

For main courses, we both went with steak dishes. The Union advises that their beef comes from Park Farm, about 13 miles away, where the owners have a small herd of about 40 cattle of the rare Sussex breed. The beef is 28 day aged before it arrives at the restaurant. One dish was a “special” – steak & salad. Fillet steak, served sliced at medium rare, mixed with salad – rocket, olives, sun dried tomato and a Parmesan crisp. Very light, very fresh. The other was a hangar steak. It also comes medium rare, along with some classic accompaniments – chips, roasted cherry tomatoes and griddled shallot. You also get a choice of sauce – that’ll be the béarnaise, please. It all works.

As often the case, we passed on dessert but finished with decent espresso.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2