Union Jacks (St Giles)
Jamie Oliver has opened the first outlet of his new Union Jacks chain at Central St Giles. The menu focuses on wood-fired flatbreads with British inspired toppings like slow-braised oxtail and brisket, roast pork shoulder, and Cornish sardines. Diners can also tuck into trad Brit starters like ham hock terrine, potted prawns, Arctic Roll and treacle tart.
what the critics say
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Very very very disappointed. I know this isn't one of Jamie's top restaurants, but he still has his name above the door. We should have known by the rather disappointing menu, but when the food arrived - it was of equal standard to a service station sandwich, small, pre-made and ice cold in the middle where it must have been stored in a fridge. Just don't see the point in the restaurant even being open, there are plenty of below average places to go to, Pret and Eat are like eating at the Fat Duck in comparison. The staff were amazing and explained that there had been a fire and the full kitchen wasn't open and even they were embarrassed. Why not just close and sort it out rather than serve up poor food? Thought better of you Jamie!!! The toilets were also absolutely filthy.
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Food 1 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 2
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Would recommend this place if you wanted something quick to eat. The flats are alright although like most people have already pointed out, sound better than they are! Service was good.
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Food 7 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Not the greatest restaurant, maybe we were too late in the evening to get the fresh food, but most was a bit crispy and overcooked. The Pizza, or 'flat' if you follow the menu term, of Old Spot was a great idea. It was very overcooked and like the tray of scraps had been poured over the Pizza. Not very good.
House white wine, was sharp enough to make a penny sparkle! (That is not a good thing...) Service was typical Jamie Oliver though, very good and attentive.
Overall rather disappointing if you are looking for good food.
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Food 4 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 6
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Last week we were told that Jamie Oliver's latest restaurant, Union Jacks, was open for business. With rumours of it being an all new British food concept, we jumped to it.
Not content with Jamie's Italian, which now boasts some 20 branches across the UK, the nation's favourite Essex Boy has teamed up with Chris Bianco (owner of Pizzeria Bianco in the US) and decided that what the country really needs is a new pizza joint. Sorry, not pizza but "British flats" ("I'm churning pizzas out in the Italian, so we've got to come up with something completely different. Only, not that different because Mr Bianco here only knows about pizza"). The restaurant had a soft launch on 11 November and is now in full swing.
"Where wood-fired flatbreads meet great British flavours" is pretty much all the sparse Union Jack's website tells you. Beyond that, there's very little online about what Jamie is trying to achieve with this place. So, armed with virtually no information but looking forward to a "journey of discovery through Britain" and Jack's promise to "reintroduce you to familiar flavours, cooked and presented the Union Jacks way" last Friday night we made our way through London's bustling Theatreland to the new St Giles complex in Covent Garden to see what was cooking.
A 360 degree glass sided box at the bottom of an ultra modern office block (upper floors still unoccupied) is always going to be hard to put your stamp on, but from the outside the place looked fresh and was certainly full. We were greeted by a lively, young waitress who showed us to our formica table where we sat on two artfully distressed 70's style school chairs. In the open plan kitchen behind us we could see a large wood-fired pizza oven and above it, on a large American diner-type display, the menu. What utterly baffled us was what the vibe of this place was meant to be. Is it a seaside cafe? A 70s tea shop? Or a When Harry Met Sally style diner? It was all just rather confused.
Dodgy decor aside, the menu is commendably brimming with locally-sourced produce. All of the feature ingredients are achingly British (Cornish sardines, Westcombe Cheddar, Norfolk chicken livers) and the cheery Britpop soundtrack which accompanied our meal hammered home the point that the decor didn't - this is England (or Britain), definitely not Italy - got that?
An impressive list of British wines, beers and ciders is on offer to accompany your chosen slice of green and pleasant land and the menu generously lists all of the restaurant's regional suppliers, down to the chap who sells the wood for the ovens. The main course menu consists entirely of the aforementioned British flats - that is, a flat bread creatively topped with British ingredients including, in each case, a British cheese, and we jumped straight in with a Red Ox (oxtail & brisket, slow braised in Worcestershire sauce, Sparkenhoe Red Leicester, watercress & fresh horseradish) and a Woodman (mixed field & wild mushrooms, Westcombe Cheddar, pickled red onion, tarragon & chervil). The Red Ox was rich and flavoursome with a decent peppery kick from both the watercress and the horseradish. But the Red Leicester cheese became a bit cloying after a few slices and it was rather like eating a giant cheese on toast with Worcester sauce (excellent midnight feast, just not necessarily something to pay twelve quid for). The Woodman mushrooms were succulent and chunky but again it was let down by the cheese and by the end of the main course we could feel our arteries clogging.
The Italians are rather good at doing pizza and have been at it for quite a long time so they know a thing or two about this and it's not by chance that mozerella is a pizza cheese. It stays soft and light when baked and does not share the same rich fattiness as hard cheeses. Understandably, having decided that this is a British restaurant, Jamie wants to use British cheese. Now, that's wholly laudable and there are plenty of great British cheeses out there that work brilliantly on pizza, but Jamie isn't using them. In the same way as the decor, it just feels rather hastily put together when a bit more time could have yielded something much more rounded.
For pudding, we were tempted by the treacle tart and retro Arctic Roll but opted for a couple of scoops of home made ice cream - one Marathon/Snickers and one of Earl Grey tea - and a pot of tea. The ice creams were both delicious, perfectly textured and a great balance of flavour and creaminess. Our pot of tea came in a knitted tea cosy; a final fluffy reminder (just in case we'd forgotten) that even peach and mango fruit tea can still be so very English. Pukka.
Top marks for the idea (obviously, you won't get any argument from us that British food, or at least British ingredients, is 100% where it's at) and top marks for service (friendly, professional and attentive throughout) but a bit more time is needed both on the menu and the surroundings to keep this particular flag flying.
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Food 6 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7
Tuesday, November 29, 2011