A prototype for the latest extension of the Jamie Oliver franchise, this Brit-themed bistro is more of a wow than you might expect.
The world fall into two camps. The much larger camp is composed of those who rush to restaurants because they’ve seen the chef on TV. The much smaller – and, on the consistent evidence of two decades of our survey, better informed – camp shuns such restaurants, on the basis that their chefs have already moved into the ‘exploitation’ phase of their careers.
Jamie’s early fame catapulted him straight into the exploitation phase. Indeed, his first restaurant in Sloane Street was so lacklustre it did not even survive. We suspect the next venture he was associated with, Fifteen, would have gone the same way if it were not for the feel-good philanthropic buzz with which it is associated.
It was a bit of a surprise, then, when – at a later stage of his career – Jamie’s Italian, his pizza-and-more-chain, started off rather well. It was less of a surprise when, as it grew, its standards started to wilt.
We therefore approached the first example of Jamie’s latest concept – a self-consciously British-themed bistro, with all the details slickly attended- to – in a duly suspicious frame of mind.
The general buzz of the place soon engaged us though. The staff seemed genuinely enthusiastic, and the food was consistently good.
The key menu item is ‘flatbreads’. Quite why, is not clear, as they seem to resemble very strongly what ordinary people call ‘pizzas’ (and Jamie has worked on the menu in conjunction with a chap whose pizzas are world-famous in, er, America). Very tasty, however, these ‘flatbreads’ undoubtedly were, as were all the small-plate dishes – such as prawn cocktail and ham hock terrine with radishes and piccalilli – we also sampled. And prices were very reasonable too.
History suggests, though, that it’s probably safest to hurry along now, while standards last!