Monday, 26 August 2013

Places To Eat In London: Jamie Oliver's Union Jacks, Holborn

[Editors Note: Union Jacks Holborn, that features in this review is closing, 
but the Covent Garden branch just a short walk away still serves the same food.]

Last week I hopped on the train up to London to meet up with my friend Katie who was in town from Los Angeles; we used to sit next to each other in Ancient Greek Epic in Fall Quarter at UCLA. The last time we'd had lunch out together and reviewed a restaurant we went to Blue Plate Taco; something very 'LA' in Santa Monica. I'd been reading her travel diary blog she's been writing this Summer for friends and family, and I caught a stereotypical American view about British food not being too good. So, I decided this time around we'd go for somewhere very English and head to Union Jacks, the most British of Jamie Oliver's restaurants for a very late light lunch. I took her to Ottolenghi's in Notting Hill for dessert. A little potted British restaurant history of our food revolution over the past 10 or 15 years or so, if you like.
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Strangely for me, when I usually start on the decor, lets start with the wine. While there were others listed, the very top of the menu was made up totally of Chapel Down wines, local to me in Kent and a vineyard I'm always very impressed by, so needless to say this impressed me. I remember I first tasted their wines when my friend came to the door for a dinner party with a bottle of one of their sparkling numbers, and after tasting it my Mother turned around and told him to give a that to a girl if he wanted to pull. Anyway, I went for a glass of their Bacchus white, and it was fresh, fruity and rich, but still perfect to go with fish pate and chips; very versatile. Whenever you see Chapel Down on a wine list and you want to go 'Best Of British', try it!
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Instead of a big plate, as it was quite a late lunch and we were not too hungry, we both went for 'Small Plates' rather than larger ones, each with a side. I'd say that they were like big starters. Katie's looked fantastic and very British, a spiral of Cumberland Sausage topped with a mustard sauce, sage and crispy bacon. 
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For her side she had a broccoli, which looked like it would entice even the staunches non broccoli eater, and I think we both commented that with the roasted garlic, chilli and lemon it reminded us of the small plate of broccolini served up at Gjelina on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Los Angeles, the best vegetable I had in LA.
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After lots of debate over if I should have the Prawn Cocktail or the By-Catch Fish Fingers with my side of crinkly chips (which beat out Jamie's Bread) I finally went for Smoked Wiltshire Trout Pate on Rye Bread, and I did not regret my choice! The pate was rich, the perfect balance of smooth and chunky, but not overwhelming. Very more-ish. The rye bread was thin, chunky, homemade and the best rye I had ever tasted, nutty and unique and the pate and the side were dredged in just the right taste and amount of olive oil to add rather than detract from the dish. I want this again, and I want to try to recreate it at home.
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I liked the decor and I felt that I really had to go back again for an evening meal; to sample their pizzas, desserts and most importantly the impressive cocktail list around the bar area, perhaps to play on the table football table? This was my first foray into one of Jamie Oliver's restaurants, but now I've had such a great meal at Union Jacks, I've added his new(ish) Recipease in Notting Hill, one of his Italians, his new Diner, and Fifteen to my 'Places To Eat In London' list. Barbecoa is already on there, and has been for ever!

10 comments:

  1. This place looks awesome, definitely going to try and visit when I'm in London next! We only have Jamie's Italian here and people are wild for it haha.

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  2. I need to try this one! I am a fan of Jamie's restaurants, I wrote about his Italian in Covent Garden on my blog recently, they have amazing pasta :) x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

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  3. Honestly, I meant to eat at the one at Westfield Stratford last month while I was flat hunting with my Mother, but opted for Bumpkin instead as I'd read good things, but the meal was really disappointing. Not going to make that mistake again, and I'm going to go to Jamie's Italian the next time I'm there, for sure!

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  4. Hi Rachel! I just discovered your blog, and really love it (I live in NYC and it is TOTALLY making me want to take another trip across the pond! It's been far too long!). Union Jacks looks like a great spot; I really like your shot of their menu (I'm a sucker for clean, simple fonts)! Thanks for sharing...I'll be back again soon! (P.S. - I blog about owning an NYC-based pop-up sandwich company with my husband and am writing weekly posts about the ins and outs of our first year in a permanent storefront [alongside recipes]...feel free to let me know if you might want to check it out and I'd be happy to share the link!)

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  5. Oh, your blog sounds really interesting - I's love the link, and I'm glad you've been enjoying my blog! Yes, you should head back over to this side of the pond, but if you just fancy hopping over to the West Coast, I also have from when I was living there a Los Angeles restaurant http://www.rachelphipps.com/p/places-to-eat-in-los-angeles.html & travel section http://www.rachelphipps.com/search/label/los%20angeles

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  6. That meal looks so yummy. I'm a big fan of Jamie's restaurants and have eaten at Fifteen Cornwall and Jamie's Italian in Bath. I love that they sell Chapel Down wines. I'm not a wine drinker, but at a recent work event I tried their Bacchus and have to say that it went down very easily! I intend to try it again some time. I've just found your blog, and I'm so glad!

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  7. I'm glad you like it! And yes, Chapel Down I find is always a mark of a good restaurant. I can't actually think of a single restaurant where they make up the bulk of the wine list that I have not had a fantastic meal at, come to think of it!

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  8. I had breakfast as Recipease last time i was in London, and it was one of the best I've had! I posted about it here http://www.dancingthroughthefire.com/2013/02/jamie-oliver-recipease.html

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  9. Oh, heading over to check that out now as Recipease is down as my next Notting Hill brunch to try when I get back to London full time!

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