Jamie Oliver’s Hot-Dog!
As I stand in the pouring rain getting drenched I take solace in the fact that I am going to be eating at the Soft Launch of Jamie Oliver‘s New Diner imminently.
Following the directions carefully on my Iphone (for a born and bred londoner you would think I would know my way around but I have finally had to admit to myself that I do not know the city I live in as well as I thought I did).
Almost soaking to the bone I reach my destination I am looking at a set up american trailer with a bunch of staff serving hot dogs in a Macdonalds type fashion, minus the front door. Immediately the thought crosses my mind that the soft launch was a posh name for a cheap hot dog in the pouring rain.
This could not be the product of a Jamie Oliver creation? Could it?
I take a deep breath and walk towards the trailer thinking should I go ahead-bite the bullet-and order. My fear and general disappointment was sensed by the guy serving me, who looking slightly confused at why I was taking my time to order promptly asked me ‘Can I help you?’ to which I reply casually ‘I am here for the Soft Launch’ he casually points upstairs. Realising I had made a mistake I nod and walk back to the side of the trailer where the doors to Jamie’s Diner Restaurant are labelled very clearly.
As I walk into the Restaurant I am greeted by a friendly smile from the gentleman at reception asking me politely if I have a reservation. Then he points to the stairs. I start walking up a small spiral staircase and at the top I am greeted by five very keen waiters and waitresses. At first the welcome was overwhelming but as I tried to take in the sights around me the one thing that was to become apparent throughout the meal was the ratio of customers to Waiters.
I am the first person to call a restaurant out on the lack of adequate serving. Having managed catering for three years it has definitely made me appreciate how much of a difference it makes to have a good service. The first waiter to show us to our table was brilliant and friendly. The second waiter explained the menu and recommended dishes fabulously, the 10th Waiter in the space of 20 mins to ask how we are-slightly aggravating, the 15th-pure annoying.
In a restaurant that could easily fit about 50 people there were only a few corporate bodies sat around. To be expected as the restaurant was only open to people representing potential business clients and not the public. Which meant the staff were eager to please a very small crowd and therefore bordering on nagging. Dressed all in Denim and red scarfs around their necks they certainly looked the part-Texas Hillbilly!
Jay Jay Burridge was the Artist responsible for the decoration. Not only did it have an American Diner feel to it but it was also decked out in posters showing Dinosaurs integrating with human life. With a large model of a dinosaur hanging over the stairs (a kid pleaser indeed) it made for an interesting surrounding. Confusing at first for the customer wondering how the dinosaurs integrated with the idea of an American Eatery quickly explained in a small paragraph on a tacky marked paper menu. The Dinosaur inclusion with the restaurant is clever idea but sadly it gets lost in translation. Whether it was just too clever an idea that it completely by-passed the customers or it did not quite fit.
I am a pro-recycling person so when the menu explained that everything would be recycled I was pleasantly surprised. If only they could have mantained the recycling at just the food-the menu’s are like the sheets of cheap paper given to children that you might find in an off road Little Chef. Complete with food marks and crosses representing the food that has run out (which in the first week of soft launches should not happen.)
You can move past the tacky menus and forgive Jamie Oliver for focusing all his effort into the food. Or that’s at least what I thought until we were presented with our first course. Barbecue Chilli flavoured chicken wings-beautifully presented on a bed of sauteed vegetables (a little vinegary for my taste) but still looked the part. Not enough chicken on the bone but a sensational mixture of barbecue and chilli-if this was the beginning of what was to come of the food than I was happy…little did I know this was not to last.
After an hour we were still waiting for our main courses (a chicken burger and a beef burger with chips and advocado chips). When the burgers eventually arrived they looked great so forgiving the time delay I take my first bite..
-soggy bread, watery sauce falling down the chin on to the new Jeans, burger that falls apart in the mouth and then takes a good 5 mins of chewing to get rid of the excess and a chipotle sauce that tastes almost entirely of flavoured mayonnaise….Jamie Oliver?
The chips were brilliant but then it is very hard to get shoestring fries wrong. A dash of rosemary on top-tastes good but if your not a fan of rosemary you end up picking through the herb to get to the chips.
Advacado fries-clever idea but definitely not as good as you think they would be. Having tried Courgette fries and fell in love with them in my mind Advacado fries could not go wrong. Total lack of flavour and a crispy shell with soft mushy interior did not satisfy.
Full? Yes! but only because we had buried our faces in the chips after removing the bitty Rosemary.
I think I might stick to Byron from now on…