The place where pizza comes to be written about

At last, an actual pizzeria review! Jamie Oliver’s Union Jack’s, London

This is not Union Jack's, this is actually The Union Jack, my work local. Try it, it's a good boozer

Well, it had to happen eventually.

Union Jack’s, as you are informed almost as soon as you sit down, is a collaborative pizzeria established by Jamie Oliver (who I was desperate to illustrate with an image from Shooting Stars of Matt Lucas as The Naked Chef, but I couldn’t find one) and Chris Bianco, who is a pizzeria owner from Phoenix, Arizona, albeit a pizzeria where people queue for hours just to get a table. Note to self: move to Arizona.

Given that Rosie had been once already THE PREVIOUS NIGHT and readily agreed to attend again, my hopes were ratcheted pretty high, buoyed by tales of toppings like oxtail and brisket, neither of which I believe I have eaten AT ALL, let alone on top of my favourite gastronomic medium. Remarkably, given the buzz about Union Jack’s, there were free tables a-plenty and we were straight in and sat down, and so my hopes ratcheted themselves back down again. The vibe is self-consciously upscale-diner in decor but resolutely Britpop in unobtrusive soundtrack (I’m aware I am starting to sound like a wanker already, my apologies) and almost immediately a waiter swoops in and gives you the spiel about the restaurant philosophy with all the emotional commitment of a Mandarin-Chinese-speaking robot reading pidgin English from a faulty autocue, something I could well do without and yet which I imagine I will get again if I should ever return to darken its doors again*. And then they hand you the menu, and you open it up and have a look.

My GOD, it’s cheap. It’s so cheap. We had starter, pizza, ice cream, all accompanied by a pint each of delightful beer from the Brit-centric drinks menu (Dandelion And Burdock in this muhfugga, yo!) and it came to THIRTY SIX QUID. I mean, COME ON! That’s crazy VFM! But cheap, as anyone who has ever been out on a date with me will attest, does not always mean cheerful. Was the food any good?

Chicken livers on London bloomer: geezer!

THE STARTER. Well, I can tell you that this frickin’ was. I had chicken livers on London bloomer bread and it was absolutely bastard fantastic, creamy and rich and full of soft onion and generous in portion size. That may well be, though, but it’s not a pizza so let’s get on to the main event. What is this, an in-flight magazine?

I think this picture is upside down, but you get the idea. Sardines in the area!

THE PIZZA. I went for the basic Margaret pizza (see what they did there? It’s an Anglocentric version of the marguerita so it’s the Margaret!) with Cornish sardines. I chanced my arm. I went out on a limb. I risked it. What I was hoping for was that the sardines would not be mimsy little filleted affairs. I wanted skin. I wanted bone. I wanted, in the words of Quint from Jaws, “the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.” Well, I didn’t get the heads (which is actually a bonus, now I think of it) but I did get five not-so-little fishes spread across a hefty, crispy-but-not-crumbly thin crust pizza about 11 inches in diameter, the crispiness serving as a contrast to the juiciness of the ample layer of tomato sauce, and the fish (RIP) themselves. I will not labour the point of whether or not I liked this pizza (and indeed the bit of Rosie’s, another Margaret with oxtail and brisket, that she could bring herself to share with me) – I will merely leave you with this image of my plate when I decided I was through eating, and it will provide its own review.

My actual empty plate, last night

After all that (and some ice cream that is ONE POUND FIFTY for a more-than-ample scoop), you even get a little souvenir Union Jack’s badge to tell the world that you have been there.

I now have one of these. The green tartan one

Criticisms? The opening spiel is unnecessary, as were the constant enquiries from hovering waiting staff about whether or not we were enjoying the food. They practically need a cable car to get you down to the toilets and back up again, and the sprawling, airy food mall in which Union Jack’s is situated is a bit of a romance killer. But you just can’t argue with the prices, the food quality, the beer quality and above all, a free badge! A FREE, GOSH-DARNED FLIPPING BADGE!

* I will

Ah, go on then: here are the two chefs


Filed under: Pizzeria reviews

3 Responses

  1. Jon h says:

    I note with good heart the single topping.

  2. This is a blog that learns from those who come to it, Jon.

  3. […] that I have gone to,and only because it is the only one that I have read consistently good reviews about.it wasn’t technically challenging or impressive in any manner, but it was enjoyableand […]

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