|Jamie Oliver Opens In Chiswick|
Wants Union Jacks to give an all-British take on pizza
The long-anticipated opening of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Union Jacks’ restaurant in Chiswick takes place today (Monday, April 2nd).
With an emphasis on flat-breads and wood-fired cooking, the idea is to marry the best of British produce of meats, fish, and cheeses from artisan producers to the organic dough-making pioneered by Jamie’s partner, New Yorker Chris Bianco.
The restaurant is situated on the former Villandry premises on the High Road, and despite rumours to the contrary on April 1st, it is fully open to Chiswick customers.
The celebrity chef popped in last week to give the staff a pep talk and wish them the best for the opening date. But staff were unable to confirm whether he would be on hand to greet local diners this week. However, his partner, Italian-American Chris Bianco, who owns a number of pizzerias in Arizona, was keen to stress that they did not want to be seen as just a ‘ big name’ moving into Chiswick but rather a restaurant that was part of the local community.
He said a large percentage of the staff were recruited from the Chiswick area, and he had sourced some of the furniture and antique prints from local shops. But many local people will wonder at the difference between a 'flatbread ‘ and a pizza of the type available at several local restaurants.
“It’s not just another pizza restaurant, it’s a whole different experience” he told ChiswickW4.com. The ingredients used in each dish have been painstakingly sourced, from the meat and fish used on the flatbreads, to the British-produced wine, beer and spirits. The restaurant will also use organic English varieties of wheat, milled in East Anglia, he said.
The idea is to have wood-fired flatbreads meet great British flavours.
Bianco says he has been a fan of Jamie Oliver since he first saw his television series ‘The Naked Chef’. They became friends when Oliver invited him to the UK three years ago, and he wa“blown away” by the range of artisanal ingredients available to chefs in this country
Chris Bianco of Union Jacks
The decor in the new restaurant has a distinct retro feel, with open-brick and white tiled walls, wooden floors and formica or wooden tables. The upbeat music is largely chosen by the staff, and the upstairs level has a huge skylight with bright yellow pendant lamps. All the furniture and steel in the restaurant are reclaimed. A number of retro television sets broadcast favourite television programmes from the sixties.
Chiswick residents will be curious to see if the flatbreads can trump the pizzas offered by the many mid-price local establishments. The menu includes six main-course flatbreads, including ‘Old Spot’,(roast shoulder of pork, quince and Bramley sauce) to ‘Red Ox’( ‘oxtail & brisket, slow braised in Worcestershire sauce) to ‘Chilli Freak’, ‘Fish Pie’, ‘Woodman’( wild mushrooms) and Margaret( (tomato and cheese). Main course prices range from £7 to £12.50.
The menu also includes a range of starters and smaller plates, which Jamie Oliver calls ‘ British tapas’, including smoked trout, roasted beets and Westcombe curd, and shrimp cocktail. There are salads, and a small number of options which are not flatbreads, including an Indian spiced chicken, a fish of the day, and British bangers. Desserts include ‘ retro’ favourites such as Arctic Roll, along with innovative offerings such as Earl Grey Tea and biscuit ice-cream. The emphasis is on British-inspired offerings, such as sticky toffee pudding.
A children’s menu is priced at £6 and will soon be available in 3-D and the restaurant will be family friendly.
According to his staff Jamie is hugely excited to be opening Union Jacks in Chiswick although he has not specified exactly why he chose W4. In a press release, Jamie says;
"I think the local people are going to absolutely love it. We opened in Central St Giles in the West End back in November, and we’ve already had really positive reviews and feedback from diners.
The food's got fantastic provenance: the starters are a kind of tapas play on Brit classics and the flats are a sincere, all-British take on pizza. I want it to be truly great value and have soul. It has great energy, great music, British booze and local beers. We've got a beautiful building in the right position in a brilliant community.”
April 2, 2012