On the recent trip by the restaurant brokers to the United Kingdom, we couldn't resist a stop at Union Jacks. The restaurant is the latest brainchild of Jamie Oliver and Chris Bianco. We visited the Covent Garden location, one of four in London located in Holborn, Chiswick, Winchester and Covent Garden.
Jamie Oliver is well known to Americans and foodies everywhere. He is a British institution as a chef. A U.K. native, he became known for his moniker, The Naked Chef there. He has been heralded as a chef and restaurateur along with multiple shows that are food-focused on TV.
According to the menu, Union Jacks is all about bringing back nostalgic British classics using the best artisanal ingredients. When the restaurant brokers visited, that’s exactly what we found. We dropped in for dinner and were looking for something light so Eric tried the Rare Roast Beef Salad. This consisted of Scottish beef that was according to the menu, “blushing with beets, watercress, fresh horseradish and sour cream.” According to restaurant broker Eric, it was a bit more than “blushing” with horseradish as the heat certainly came through in certain bites but he enjoyed the well plated salad that was hearty enough to serve as a dinner meal.
I went with the Roast Chicken Caesar Salad which was served in an interesting manner. It was described on the menu as “Half a roast Norfolk black chicken, butterhead and gem lettuce, Lincolnshire poacher & wood-roasted garlic croutons in an anchovy & ricotta dressing.” As usual, this restaurant broker skipped the dressing so I can’t comment on that but the salad itself was unusual. It was very different from the traditional Caesar salad served stateside as it was almost a deconstructed version with each element of the plate separate for service on the plate rather than combined with the meat on top.
The menu included some classic British dishes with his attempt to use fresh organic inspired food and lighten up the dishes. His twist on favorites included items like these:
FISH ‘N’ CHIPS were on the menu for £ 14.95
Beer-battered sustainable Atlantic haddock, skinny chips, mushy peas & tartar sauce. I caught a glimpse of the “skinny” chips and they looked fried and less than skinny to my eye.
HAMPSHIRE ROAST PORK BELLY & BANGER could be yours for £ 14.50
With mashed potato & beer mustard dressing. Banger and mashed was a staple on most pub menus but this dish did appear a bit healthier than most on the plates we spotted.
Other favorites included the YORKSHIRE LAMB STEAK available for £ 15.25. This dish featured courgette & barley stew & boozy raisins or the EMPIRE-SPICED FREE-RANGE CHICKEN priced at £ 15.75. This was served with Bombay potatoes, crunchy slaw & a lemon & Scotch bonnet yoghurt.
The location the restaurant brokers visited was in the Covent Garden area of London, This Covent Garden is one of the London's biggest tourist magnets. The area around the glass-covered building - a former fruit and vegetable market - is always crowded, especially during weekends and in summertime. Union Jack’s had a large open air restaurant inside the large glass market as well as an “underground” version of the restaurant that was secreted away to the side and served drinks in the fashion of an old time speakeasy. The dungeon like cellar location was a ultra-hip place to sip a drink outside the usual noise and clutter of tourists while taking advantage of the same menu.
Covent Garden is known for its many open-air cafés, restaurants, pubs, market stalls and shops. It’s also famous for the street performers who entertain the visitors on the pedestrianized piazza. The former floral market houses the London Transport Museum and the district is also home to several theaters and the Royal Opera House.
All in all, the Union Jack’s experience for the restaurant brokers was a good one. They were serving mulled wine and the entire center was decked out in Christmas decorations so the air was quite festive and fun. If you’re traveling to London, Union Jack’s is worth a visit.
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