Jun 7 2013

Jamie Oliver's Diner


Jamie Oliver is a very successful entrepreneur that has made a lot of money through his books and various restaurants and his latest venture is equally smart, a diner on Shaftsbury Avenue. Everyone in London these days is crazy for comfort food, burgers, pizzas, fried chicken, the type of food you should not eat, but somehow we think that if it is served in a nice restaurant and is more expensive than McDonalds and uses better meat, it is ok for us. Jamie’s latest restaurant appeals to people that love this sort of food and the menu features burgers, chicken, meatballs, tacos and ribs. Also he has labeled his new restaurant a “pop up” despite the fact that it will be here for 3 years, and my fiend Katrina was shocked when she found out about this and said that she would not have come if she knew it was going to be here for such a long time.

I went to Jamie Oliver’s Diner on a Friday night at 10pm with my friend Katrina, Love and their 2 friends, and Katrina had read about this restaurant and really wanted to try it out. You can’t book a table here but the waitress at the entrance still asked us if we have a reservation. The location does not look that appealing from the outside, as the restaurant is located on the messy Shaftsbury avenue next to the cash machines which had a massive queue outside of them when we went there, as well as outside souvenir chops, in the location where previously the restaurant Adam’s rib was situated. Next to the Diner is the Jamie’s takeaway hot dog stand. It just feels a bit chaotic when you approach the diner, and once inside the “over the top” vibe that you have on the Shaftsbury avenue continues and Jamie’s Diner is full of dinosaurs which he calls Dinersaurs (created by artist Jay Jay Burridge), writings on the wall, so there are so many different things to look at. The one thing about the interior that I very much enjoyed though was that we were sitting at a table by these large window looking down on Shaftsbury avenue, and it was fascinating to watch people from above rushing along Shaftsbury Avenue, it was a feeling of getting to see real London very up close and from an angle that you have not seen before.

Katrina ordered a drink that looked like strawberry slushy with vanilla vodka, and it tasted very sweet and nice but we could taste very little vodka. I ordered a virgin mojito, and it came with a very cool paper straw that turned out to be extremely unpractical as it melted during the time I was trying to drink my cocktail and could not use it after a few minutes. I did very much like the menu in Jamie Oliver’s Diner. It was divided into starters, sides, classic dishes, burgers, chicken and salads and the menu also stated which dishes were healthy (with a little angel), which were naughty (little devil horns) and which were vegetarian. Jamie does put a lot of emphasis on healthy eating which he promotes in his books and even here on the menu he says all their ingredients are sustainable and emphasis is on British produce, and even with the naughty dishes he has tried to make them a bit healthier. Also food that is not eaten is composted, recycled or up-cycled
At first we wanted to try the burgers, but in the end I chose “Jamie’s naughty favourite” which was “free range chicken in a basket” that had chicken that was “brined, rubbed, marinated, grilled and chopped” and was served resting in its juices on shoestring fries and served with a 10-veg coleslaw. Katrina chose the same, and Love ordered “pitt waffle” which had pulled pork (16h slow cooked), barbecue sauce, frazzled chillies and 10-veg coleslaw as well as a “chopped salad” and for the salad even though on the menu it said you could choose your own dressing, the waiter said we could not and it came with vinegar dressing. On the menu Jamie explains that this 10-veg slaw that features in a lot of the dishes has 10 vegetables and is 1 of your 5/day. Very thoughtful of Jamie. Katrina really liked the chicken, but I was a bit confused when I saw it. I expected really naughty deep fried chicken, and there was none of it, it was just plain chicken with spices, salad onions and a half of a roasted lemon. The flavour of the chicken was nice, very subtle but delicious, but I do not understand why Jamie labeled this as naughty, as to me this felt healthy. And if I am in a restaurant “letting go” and trying to eat naughty food and they bring me healthy food, clearly I am disappointed. The shoestring fries were naughty, and I really liked how they had been soaked with the juice from the chicken which made them very tasty. I did think though that for £15 this dish was not a cheap comfort food dish. I also tried a bit of Love’s pitt waffle with pulled pork, and I thought it was quite good, the pork was nice but the waffles a bit too plain and just too perfect, when you expect messy and naughty food. The chopped salad was nice, and what I really liked about all the vegetables and salads is that you could really feel Jamie’s influence here. I have watched a lot of his cooking shows and he loves using colourful and different shape vegetables with interesting healthy dressings, and you could definitely see this in Jamie Oliver’s Diner.
Jamie Oliver’s Diner is a sterile and safe and a bit healthy version of a Diner, and I personally like the grubbier and unhealthier diners when I do decide to go for unhealthy food. I do understand Jamie as he gets a lot of press and criticism when he advocates unhealthy food (I once saw a newspaper article criticizing him as his lasagna recipe had more calories than a supermarket pre-made lasagna) and he has to show he is a role model in eating hence the menu even states that health dishes contain less than 35% of woman’s GDA for calories, saturated fat and less than 25% GDA for salt and devil dishes warn that they have high calories, saturated fat or salt, but it kind of defeats the purpose when you go to a Diner that is so self-conscious. I thought the food was ok, but I have no interest in going back.
Price for 5 people with alcohol: £150
Location: Shaftsbury Avenue

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Jamie Oliver's Diner
19-23 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7EE
United Kingdom
Jamie Oliver's Diner Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 2