Sitting pretty between Maida Vale, Notting Hill and Kilburn - and just a hop and a skip from Westbourne Park Station - The Union Tavern bills itself as the premier craft beer haven in West London, fronting hearty fare, a relaxed vibe and an enviable location overlooking the Grand Union Canal. Though part of the Fullers family, this homely hangout in W9 gives an individual, local and ultimately cool impression from the outside and in.
The pub itself looks relatively modern from the exterior, and also benefits from a unique beer garden in its canal-side decking area, right on the water. Benefitting from perhaps the last nice-ish day of the year, we were lucky enough to get a seat outside. That said, the decking space comes fully equipped for any type of British weather; fully covered, with plenty of patio heaters on hand if necessary. Inside the pub you can expect some typically 'gastro' unvarnished tables, wooden floors and a quirky living room-esque downstairs area. Somehow combining a quintessential pub vibe with a modern feel, the result is trendy, relaxed and in no way pretentious.
The Ambience and Clientele
I chose to visit on a Sunday, late afternoon. Welcomed by a lively, friendly buzz, I didn't feel the pub was exceptionally busy, though on inspection most of the tables (especially outside) were all taken. With a unique location plonked between a few areas, the pub could easily attract a stuffier clientèle; but most likely down to their relaxed approach to hosting, the ambience was chilled and the customers varied in their demographic. It definitely didn't feel like an inclusive place; which is nice - especially taking into account some of the other bars nearby.
Last of the summer wine at The Union Tavern.
Food and Drink
‘The Sunday Chicken Shop’ promises delicious 'birds' cooked in the pub’s authentic smoke grill. Alongside your succulent chicken you get to choose a number of sides to accompany the meat, ranging from mac ‘n’ cheese, sweet potato mash, courgette fries and plenty more. To say the meal was hearty would be an understatement. You certainly get a bit more bang for your buck here; with each meal (with three sides) coming in at under £15 per person. As if that wasn't enough to well and truly wet your whistle, after a chat with one of the bar staff; it's pretty clear that the food isn't the only big player at The Union Tavern. 'The only craft beer hangout in the area', there are a wide range of ales from local breweries around London, which are chosen in-house and alternated regularly.
Perhaps it was the last rays of the sun, perhaps it was the massive plate of food I ate, or perhaps it was the four pints of Camden Pale Ale; but the whole experience at The Union Tavern was as perfectly comfortable as it should be. Cool but not try-hard, the beer was awesome, the food was tasty and the vibe was chilled; I’ll certainly be re-visiting.