Chiswick High Road seems to be a tricky site for restaurants. Quite a few chains have tried and failed to make it work in W4, including Balans and Villandry, both of which are recent disappearances – leaving a gaping hole for hangover-curing breakfasts and bloody Marys.
Having said that, there is a massive amount of choice and some real gems, including the amazing La Trompette and the weirdly amazing Hedone at the top end and blisteringly hot (and yes, amazing) Vietnamese at Saigon Saigon in the more affordable camp. Chiswick is a family neighbourhood, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself shouting at your friends over lunch so you can be heard over the choir of wailing babies and their competitive middle-class mummies.
So when another new place opened a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t totally excited – until I heard they had an all-English, all Chapel Down winery winelist! Union Jack’s is the brainchild of Jamie Oliver and US restauranteur Chris Bianco – the gimmick/premise is all British ingredients, made into flatbread/pizzas.
It’s pretty much exactly what would happen if you threw three random food trends together to make a restaurant concept out of them. I imagine the brainstorming session took no more than an hour (Pizzas! Local sourcing! Celebrity chefs! Hmm – where can we put it? Why not West London – affluent but not too discerning!). It’s nicely, predictably executed, and predictably popular, at least on my visit with LondonWineHusband this weekend.
The winelist is brilliantly simple – the wines are all Chapel Down, from Tenterden in Kent, including their delicious sparkling pink, English Rose, their white Bacchus and even Pinot Noir. The markups are tiny and in my view English wine is still spectacularly good value. I had a glass of Bacchus, which is a German grape that does well in our cooler weather and tastes a bit like a fresh, off-dry Verdicchio.
The food is not brilliant value, at £12 for a flatbread pizza, but passable – I had a chilli freak flatbread with 6 different kinds of chilli that went well with my wine but wasn’t quite as feisty as I would have liked, and LWH had bangers with bubble and squeak, which he wolfed down in a vaguely approving way.
An added bonus was eating counter-style, overlooking the Chiswick High Road – not a bad way to while away a Sunday afternoon! It’s definitely a “come for the wine, stay for the food” sort of place, but always encouraging to see such an emphasis on UK wines.
Best of British, and thanks for reading -