A taster of Cabana Brasilian barbecue & Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks at Central St Giles, London

It's amazing what you can find in a skip nowadays...

An invitation too good to miss -  creating Caipirinhas at Brazilian restaurant Cabana, and have a dough masterclass across the road at Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks at the new Central St Giles piazza just off Covent Garden. We’ve been to Cabana at Westfield Stratford, with its ideal location right by the Olympic Stadium (click here to read), but not yet been to Jamie’s latest venture. Unfortunately Ade was unable to join me We Love Food became I Love Food for the night.

Ready, steady, chop!

My Caipirinha - strong but refreshing

Once settled inside Cabana we were given instructions on making our cocktails, we had all the gear laid out in front of us and luckily it was easy. I had a pang of pride as I noticed a girl next to me out of the corner of my eye watching my lime cutting skills (there is an art to it, as there is to everything as my dear dad says). Potently strong but refreshing, I was told by owner Jamie that it is a ‘sipping drink’, oops, mine went in just a few minutes. We also got to try the a warming shot of Sagatiba Velha Cachaça £3.95

Street food, innit!

We were given a few nibbles from the Street Food section of the menu, Crispy Pastels Pastry pockets stuffed with four cheeses served with organic smoked peppers £4.65, Crunchy Rice Bolinhos Rice balls sprinkled with parmesan, served with chilli mayonnaise £4.45. The only one that was cheese-free I was able to taste was the succulent Chicken Coxinhas Croquettes of shredded chicken and spices £4.45 (shame Ade wasn’t there to try the rest). We also sampled the sticky Spicy Malagueta Chicken skewer £5.45 for 3 pieces and Pork and Papaya Sausages 2 for £4.50. The idea of ordering from the skewers is that there’s a constant stream of freshly cooked meats circulate the room, you choose the ones you want and they stamp your menu and it’s all totted up at the end.

Sign of the times...

Pats the way to do it...

... for a perfect flatbread

We were then swiftly taken across the square to Union Jacks where the charismatic co-owner Chris Bianco was there to greet us. Chris was bought over from Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, Arizona by Jamie Oliver a few years ago to set up the restaurant together. As he spoke (and he spoke a lot) I think we were all mesmerised by his passion and stories. I can’t imagine there is ever an awkward silence when he and Jamie are together.

Garlic mushrooms - not pretty but delicious

I was too slow to get my hands on it.

Baby Yorkies - how cute!

Union Jacks is a celebration of British food and produce, delivered in tapas style small plates. We sampled a few, including Hot Norfolk Black Chicken Livers on London Bloomer £4.50, Potted Prawns, Morecambe Bay Shrimps & Devonshire Crab £5.50. The Prawn & Morecambe Bay Shrimp Cocktail £6 served in Kilner jar which you are encouraged to shake up like a cocktail to mix the flavours was fab and zingy. Unlike me, my favourite was the Bloody Mary Pontarddulais Mussels In The Bag £5, an unusual but pleasing combo. Roasted Beets, Westcombe Curd & Smoked Seeds £4, Smoked Trout, Feisty Horseradish & Baby Yorkies £5  which I steered clear of because I thought I spotted parmesan, but I think it may have been horseradish! Without Ade there I didn’t have someone to be my cheese taster, a similar recipe for these can be found here.

We were given some British bubbles, a lovely Kentish sparkling wine from the Chapel Down Winery, who also provide the beer. Great sounding soft drinks were on offer also, such as homemade Dandelion & Burdock. Now onto the pizzas, sorry, I mean flats. As Union Jacks is about all things British, they are called flatbreads, not pizzas. I think everyone still calls them pizzas though, including Chris now and then. I personally can’t tell the difference between the two.

Ade's doggy bag - they're flat breads NOT pizzas!

Jamie wasn't amused by the old glue on the table joke... But Chris saw the funny side

Chris gave us a demo on creating the base, being a chef he made it look incredibly easy, I wouldn’t have wanted to volunteer, would need to practice first in the privacy of my own kitchen. He made an Old Spot Roast shoulder of pig, quince & Bramley sauce, Cropwell Bishop Stilton, crackling & watercress £12.50 – it sounded right up my street (minus the cheese of course). As it came out of the wood-fired oven everyone sat back down to try it I could only fantasise about a cheese-free version. They offered to make one but I passed and took home a few slices for Ade to try instead. We are going to come back together and review as a whole and I can’t wait. Breaking news is that there is to be a branch opening up at Bluewater (ten minutes from our house).

Cabana
7 Central St Giles Piazza
London, WC2H 8AD

Email: stgiles@cabana-brasil.com

020 7632 9630

Opening hours: 12.00pm – 11pm, Mon-Sat

12.00pm – 10pm Sun
Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road
Follow them on Twitter
Like them on Facebook

Union Jacks
4 Central St. Giles Piazza

London
WC2H 8AB

0203 597 7888
Email: holborn@unionjacksrestaurant.com
Opening hours: 12 noon – 11pm Mon-Sat
12 noon – 10.30pm Sun

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road
Follow them on Twitter