Jamie Oliver is about as ubiquitous as a chef can be in United Kingdom, if not the world. He seems very much to be the preferred, trusted and much beloved king of the British kitchen as well and shows no signs of slowing down. TV personality, cookbook author, restauranteur and the driving force behind a range of products for sale across the world, the baby-faced Brit seems only to build upon his successes. Considering all Jamie's done (and he's still got a few years to go before reaching the big four-oh), other folks might have been content to rest on their millionaire laurels or simply would have overextended themselves a long time ago.
And so it is that the man behind the celebrated fine dining restaurant 15, the equally upscale Barbecoa BBQ restaurant and the UK's ever increasing chain of Jamie's Italian restaurants stretches his brand just a little further with a new restaurant concept: Union Jacks.
Union Jacks is a family friendly casual restaurant featuring a “best of” British menu. The star of the menu is a selection of “flats” – these are essentially pizzas. The flats are cooked in wood-fired ovens and cost around £7 to £12 (roughly $10 to $18). They're really tasty too. Seafood lovers will be reeled in by the “Fish Pie” (smoked pollock, heritage potatoes, sweet leeks and Welsh cockles, £10) while diners seeking truly British flavours should find the “Old Spot” (roast shoulder of pig, quince and Bramley sauce, Cropwell Bishop Stilton, crackling and watercress, £12.50) a real treat. So whether you're a “Chilli Freak” (six chili varieties, roasted and crushed with tomatoes, curd, rocket, mint & lemon, £9.50) or a “Woodman” (mixed field and wild mushrooms, Westcombe Cheddar, pickled red onion, tarragon and chervil, £11.50), there's a delicious flat that's sure to be to your liking. And of course, there are sides, salads and plenty of non-flat items on the menu to those not so keen on the carbs.
As big as he is, Jamie's not the only man waving the Union Jacks banner. For the new restaurant, Jamie partnered with American “pizza master” Chris Bianco, who's widely credited as “the man who perfected dough.” Chris is the head chef and owner of Pizzeria Bianco, a small restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona that considered by many to be one of the best places to get pizza in the States. On a visit to Britain a couple of years ago, Chris fell in love with the local produce and the enthusiasm toward food that he came across in the markets, pubs and shops of the UK. Inspired and excited, he decided to stay and work with Jamie to create Union Jacks. Foodie Brits are lucky to have him here.
For now there's only one Union Jacks location at 4 Central St Giles Piazza, situated in the iconic “Lego” building in Central London near Tottenham Court Road Station. As bustling a setting as it is, the design by innovative creative agency Blacksheep yields a comfy and laid back tone that should please any variety of diners seeking a great meal at a decent price with a friendly vibe.
Plans to expand are definitely in the works and in no time at least a few more examples of this flat but flavorsome concept rolled out across Britain and perhaps beyond.
Jump on a flight to London and taste Jamie Oliver's pizza!
Find out more at www.unionjacksrestaurants.com.
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IMG Cred: Chris Osburn