All Under One Roof
Trade Union brings barbers, food, coffee and drink together
Review by Rupert Watkins
London is certainly a city that sees trends come and go. The team behind Trade Union believe they’ve hit on a winning one with this multi themed space. Bar, bistro, coffee shop, barbers and florists are bought together to create a relaxed and humming environment. The place is modern – high ceilings, exposed piping and smoothed concrete finishes mean an industrial chic feel. There is plenty of open space with banquettes down one side of the room and well-spaced high tables and bright leather stools for drinkers to cluster around. Dining there on the warmest day of the year so far, large doors were thrown open to allow fresh air to circulate.
A well-stocked bar creates a solid range of cocktails – as a gin lover this reviewer’s eye was drawn to number such as The Jericho (Sipsmith, orange bitters and passionfruit) and The Daisy (Bloom gin, rose water, lemon and soda). With cocktails ranging between £9 and £12 this is a fun place to try a couple. Those seeking more solid sustenance have a small but interesting menu – with plenty of easy eating comfort food – to pick from. Sometimes just something simple hits the spot. Rib Eye steak, steak tartare with quail eggs, Crab Roll and Bone Marrow burger all take the eye. Sourdough pizzas are also available with various interesting toppings such as Italian sausage with roast funnel and prosciutto with honey figs.
My guest’s Crab Roll was judged spot on – plenty of crab meat, simple and tasty. My Fettuchini Alfredo with crab and chilli was a solid dish, however despite liking chilli flavoured food, the delicate taste of the crab was overwhelmed by the heat. I knew the crab was there but it struggled to overcome the red chillis. Washing our food down on this balmy evening was a Chablis 1er Cru Montains. Dry and elegant with that typical minerally edge of Chablis it slipped down very nicely.
Chatting with the courteous staff, we were shown around. There’s a small upstairs snug like seating area at Trade Union for about 20 people accessible by stair and slide – useful after that fourth cocktail… Around the back of their airy open plan kitchen is a smaller side room for private parties. With its own bar and large projector screen this should see both private and business use. Given Trade Union has only been open for five weeks, it has only been used a couple of times thus far but we were informed interest and bookings are constantly going up.
Putting multiple services under one roof sees a small barbers shop with three chairs run by Drakes of London. Offering the sound basics – cut, wet shave, beard trim – this part of Trade Union does not currently stay open into the evening, last bookings are at 6:30pm. There is also a concession with Maua of London florists for those needing to pick up a bouquet.
Running the coffee operation at Trade Union is Vagabond. Having been in the business since 2011, looking to bring the finest coffee to the city’s caffeine lovers, this collaboration with Trade Union is their fourth outlet. We were told that it has already gained a devout following with queues around Thomas More square itself most mornings. With a table equipped with charging points to enable work/ hot desking or meetings to be held there, this coffee outlet certainly appears to have fulfilled a need. Again though, this does not yet open in the evenings.
Trade Union certainly seems to have hit the ground running and its mix of services clearly appeals in the area. On Thursday and Friday nights there is live music and the bar is packed to capacity – after only five weeks they already have bar regulars and know who’s taking various tables at the end of the week. Always a good sign to generate loyalty that quickly. During the week it is perhaps a little less rammed, we dined on a Tuesday evening and it was much quieter with most patrons sitting outside in the sun. For those in the area and those who work on the very eastern edge of the Square Mile, Trade Union is worth an amble to Thomas More Square.
Enquiries: Trade Union, 3 Thomas More Square, Wapping, London E1W 1YN / 0207 4889356 / www.trade-union.co.uk/