“What’s not to like?” is Chris Bianco’s motto and checking out the latest edition to his and Jamie’s Union Jacks restaurant, well, I agree.
Smack bang in the middle of the world-famous Covent Garden covered market the restaurant sits proudly amid the crowds and the noise of street performers.
This is the fourth in the Union Jacks family (Holborn St Giles, Winchester, Chiswick and now here) with a UJ bar at Gatwick.
In Covent Garden, however, there is an upstairs – really the ground floor, which gives a 360 of the market behind glass partitioning; then there is a downstairs cellar, for a more intimate vibe. All with a dash of Oliver and Bianco retro cheek.
All the usual UJ suspects are there, the beautifully crisp wood-fired pizzas (or flats) with the insanely brilliant trademark toppings of fish pie, crackling and pork, chilli freak and Westcombe curd and tomatoes finished off and blistered in the beautiful ovens.
But let’s not forget this is a restaurant, not your worky-day pizza shack, so the fish of the day (today a beautifully plump and fresh-as-a-daisy Brixham mackerel) the pates, livers, fish fingers and potted shrimp and crab adorning the starters as well as the stunning Empire Chicken, a curried roast.
And the puds? Oh man the puds. Rhubarb sorbet, arctic roll, Black Forest gateau and marathon ice-cream.
Check out the menu and locations here.
The restaurant has a locally-sourced policy (“from the back door out” as Chris likes to say) and the Magpie Nation vibe of an Empirical past is evident in the Great British flavours with shades of India and the West Indies to name just a couple of the influences.
And yeah, it makes sense to have this within one of the Victorians’ greatest architectural legacies.
“It’s surreal, it’s mad, it’s like a restaurant that has fallen out of the skies from outer-space and landed in the middle of Covent Garden,” Bianco grins.
“It’s just a special place with an incredible history. We doing great food in a place surrounded by culture”¦.what’s not to love?”
Officially the restaurant opens Monday 16th July.