Tanya Gold Tanya Gold

The problem for Jamie’s Italian isn’t Brexit. It’s the menu, the prices and the narcissism

Jamie’s Italian is closing six branches, blaming Brexit. After all, what else could explain the lack of customers? The below Spectator review, from August 2015, offers some suggestions

Jamie’s Italian is squeezed into the Devonshire Arms on Denman Street, Soho, borne on the duplicitous winds of TV shows and book deals. It’s an odd fit, like a Flump meeting Dante. The Devonshire was a pub at the end of the world, a Victorian dystopia made of violence and despair. Now Jamie Oliver — an aghast teenager running to fat even as he declares war on the Turkey Twizzler and the civilisation that wrought it — has sucked it into his empire of Jamie’s Italians (there are 41, from Aberdeen to Gatwick), installed a roof terrace and written ‘Established 2014’ over the door. At first glance, Jamie has done nothing to the Devonshire Arms. It is still a grim London pub, now struck down with a late-term identity crisis. He has not even removed the signs that told the very drunk they were in the Devonshire Arms, rather than New York, or a swimming pool, or hell. There are green leatherette banquettes, brown plastic walls masquerading as wood panelling and a hideous air-conditioning system hanging, like a dead TV alien, from the ceiling. Explore further, however, and learn what new horrors planning restrictions can summon in a Victorian pub that has been bought by a fake-revolutionary chef expanding, in every sense, too fast. There are metal staircases and crazy art to invoke edge when there is none; Oliver, for all his anti-establishment posturing, is a conservative force. Women who feed their children chips through the barbed wire at school know him as their enemy. There are five cramped and sweaty floors of it; a 440-cover restaurant lurks behind the signage. It is a Tardis.

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