Jamie Oliver’s new chain embodies the spirit of Great British food and values.
Jamie Oliver, lover of all things rustic and quintessentially British, is back with his latest project: ‘Union Jacks’, a new chain prioritising family values and home grown flavours. We are all familiar with Jamie’s enthusiasm for filling the nation’s bellies with good, honest food and his dedication to creating flair and authenticity in his dining experiences, but how will this latest venture fare? Following the success of Jamie’s Italian, which was first introduced in 2008 and now boasts 26 restaurants nationally, we can only predict that this new chain will do just as well.
So what is the concept? Browsing the website for more information I came across a definition of Union Jacks as a place ‘where wood-fired flatbreads meet great British flavours’. The aim, I gather, is to embody some of the nation’s most loved traditions by taking a step back in time to the era when we relied on good old wood fired cooking methods. Nearly all of the ingredients used in the current restaurant in Central St Giles, Covent Garden are local, echoing Oliver’s keenness to look to the back gardens of Britain first and to celebrate British heritage. As ever there is a real sense of pride taken in doing things properly and honouring the country’s own produce.
‘‘At Union Jacks we want to take you on a journey of discovery through Britain, and reintroduce you to familiar flavours, cooked and presented the Union Jack’s way’’
The project is a collaboration of Oliver and US pizzeria expert, Chris Bianco. The two have worked together to try and create a chain that represents their particular approach to food and life in general. The idea of unity is something that the pair have tried to incorporate in to their dining experience. Staff are encouraged to ‘support and care about one another’ and to try and exceed expectations by ‘prioritising and relishing quality’ and ‘always providing exceptional service’. This obsessive attention to excellence and camaraderie is a little over the top and cringe-worthy at times.
‘Union Jack is a celebration of people coming together, of the journey of our ingredients and the journey of our people – all coming together to create something beautiful’
Cringing and cynicism aside however, I think most of us will agree that Oliver, whilst having the tendency to get on people’s nerves with his idealistic view of how the nation should be and how we should eat, always strives to be the best at what he does and to deliver extraordinary results.
The first restaurant from the Union Jacks chain opened in Central St. Giles, Covent Garden in late 2011. The second branch is set to open in Chiswick in March/April of this year. British design firm Blacksheep were the creative geniuses behind the Central St. Giles branch, and have fantastically recreated post war British nostalgia with beralware-inspired plates, vintage menu boards, a graphic neon coloured sign and a retro colour scheme of muted blues, pinks and browns. Antique TV screens linked to cameras in the kitchen allow diners to watch the chefs as they cook, whilst authentic objects and trinkets, such as 1970s style tea cosies, decorate the restaurant and add to the ambience and the spirit of Britishness.
Union Jacks in Central St. Giles is open from 12 noon until 11pm everyday apart from Sundays when it is open till 10.30pm. For more information visit Union Jack and watch this space for more openings this year!
Central St Giles is featured in our Cutting Edge Green tour.