One of the UK’s most passionate and all round loveable chefs, Jamie Oliver, has opened yet another chain of restaurants; Union Jacks which is, apparently, all about “local”. I say apparently as when I stepped into the restaurant last week with a couple of friends, it was like walking through an American time machine that dropped you off in some retro era…. far from where they were supposedly taking you: ‘on a journey of discovery through Britain’. Having said that, the menu does celebrate British food and produce, for instance they only offer English Wines and try to source ingredients from their back garden before looking elsewhere.
We started off by tucking into a Prawn & Morecombe Bay Shrimp Cocktail served in a kilner jar, which the kooky waiter encouraged us to shake up before eating; it was divine, full of flavour and really fresh! Alongside the prawns we delved into the Wood-Grilled Sausage & Bacon with House Ale & Sage mustard dip which was so delicious that it was gone within a matter of seconds.
It was all going so well…. until the Wood Fired Oven, which is their main focus, so choosing a flatbread was surely a no brainer. The controversial combination of the ‘Old Spot’ flatbread consisting of Slow-Roast Shoulder of Pork, Quince & Bramley sauce, Stilton, Crackling and Watercress would surely be the winner of the evening – Sunday lunch on a pizza, what more could you want? But we were so wrong. The sickly apple sauce versus the stinking Stilton was enough to put anyone off ever thinking Sunday lunch on or in any food is a good idea.
The other dish we ordered, ‘Empire Chicken’- Indian spiced Chicken with Bombay potatoes, Carrot salad & Coriander yoghurt, was packed full of flavours (perhaps too many) definitely didn’t read the ‘local’ memo which just added to the confusion of the whole place.
Unfortunately Union Jacks didn’t live up to the hype and I left feeling somewhat bloated by the disappointing and not so local food. Like many celebs that I haven’t actually met, I feel like I know Jamie well enough to tell him that he’d let me down.
By Victoria Gibbs