Jamie Oliver’s Diner is on the corner at 23a Shaftsbury Avenue. Before we get going with this post lets be honest we are not supposed to take this as a serious fine dining experience it is just supposed to be a bit of fun. Since visiting I have seen a few somewhat cynical or perhaps not so heartfelt blog posts and reviews about this place declaring it to be some sort of sell out, or Jamie jumping on some imaginary diner band wagon. Perhaps he is, but I treat these sorts of places as Disney-style food emporiums. I get a bit tired reading all the vitriol aimed at any celebrity opening these sorts of places. I saw the same thing when Guy Fieri opened up his ‘American Kitchen and Bar’ in Times Square, I went there because I enjoy his TV shows, in fact I am watching him on ‘Diner’s Drive-ins and Dives’ as I type this. We all secretly know at the start that it may be all slightly tongue in cheek and perhaps slightly overpriced, we know he is probably not going to be in the kitchen, and that this is really a bit of a cash cow, but honestly, I don’t care I am standing in the queue with my fistful of dollars all ready and no-one else in that queue cared either I didn’t see anyone waiting to eat ironically or just so that they could ‘not’ enjoy themselves. Jamie does plenty of good work elsewhere so lets just let him have this one and enjoy it for what it is. If you don’t like him or have a problem with him making some money on the back of his fame then you are in the wrong place then you probably need to go somewhere else.
The menu had one or two items that really were not dineresque at all, untraditional would be the best description, but I chose to ignore that for the moment as I had already decided that I was having some sort of Burger. Well to be honest when I am testing out the burger cooking skills of the chef, or rather when I am choosing the burger toppings that I really like then I am increasingly a man of habit. Today as with many days in personal burger history I was having a Beef Burger topped with the smoked streaky bacon, Westcombe cheddar, and a fried egg.
The sunny side up fried egg topping my slightly pink beef burger was dominating the view of my burger sandwich stack. This was a good start as the egg was looking good. The cheese was quite a nice cheddar and the bacon had some decent flavour even though it had been crispy once, mine seemed to have become a little soggy. Hopefully it had not been sitting around too long. When it comes to burgers in a diner everything should be scratched cooked. The meat patty was decent, it was still juicy with a good charred taste. Not fantastic by any means but a pretty good effort.
Taking the burger as a whole, it would not jump into my top ten all time burgers, but it might get an honorable mention in the Celebrity Burger league. You could do a lot worse, but at the price you might want to consider your options. I did not mind paying £8.50 for the burger, but adding another £1 for each of the three toppings and another £3 for fries was pushing it a little bit.
I know that Shake Shack and Five Guys are moving into the London Burger scene and some comparisons are already being made suggesting that you might be better off eating at one of those places rather than at Jamie’s. If I was you I would wait and see if either of those two places manage to make the transatlantic leap successfully before jumping to such bold statements. I have eaten at both on a semi regular basis when I was living in the states so I am also awaiting with interest.
Jamie Oliver’s Diner is supposed to be a Pop-up restaurant but I understand that it is supposed to be there for the next two years so quite a long pop. Although it was a bit pricy, I suppose it is in Central London and you kind of expect that. I didn’t mention that they are a lot of plastic dinosaurs in the place, I really don’t know why I can only suppose it is a bad Diner Dino type of pun connection.
The other thing missing from a decent diner experience was a side or bowl of Macaroni Cheese. I did mention it to the staff so hope that they add that to the menu in future.