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The Union Jack
Last weekend I dragged my family to downtown Winchester, Virginia to a "surprise location" for lunch. Having never tried authentic British food, I was eager to try the Union Jack Pub & Restaurant, located in the Loudoun Street Mall.
While pausing to enjoy a street musician and practicing jugglers, we also observed activity in the restaurant's outdoor dining area. The employees all kept a very neat appearance, and each one treated the customers in a polite, respectful manner. As if the sight of the delicious-looking food wasn't enough, the slight autumn breeze helped tempt our appetites, wafting the mouth-watering scents of the delectable foods in our direction.
Inside the Restaurant
Finally my boys caught up to me and we entered the restaurant, where the hostess offered us outdoor, indoor, or pub seating. Despite the number of patrons willing to brave the November chill and eat outside, we chose a spacious table in the dining room. The decor was simple yet well thought out, with framed newspaper clippings, photos of local homes, and advertisements for upcoming events here and there upon the walls. Svelte black napkins cradled silverware for each person in our party, and my boys were extremely impressed by the three-pronged forks and wide-blade butter knives.
A view through an open doorway in the back revealed the pub area. The left side was taken up by a long bar complete with bar stools, while a row of tall tables and chairs lined the right. My youngest son spent a bit of time in the room waiting for his turn in the bathroom, and was happy to share details about the space. More framed newspaper clippings hung on the walls, along with framed prints displaying scenes from Great Britain. Behind the bar, taps displayed all the different kinds of beer available and the restaurant's namesake -- a large, British flag -- proudly hung on the wall.
As their mission statement claims, the Union Jack uses local businesses wherever possible to purchase ingredients for their menu items and only never-frozen fish and seafood. Their high standard of freshness is confirmed with each bite of their mouth-watering fare. Having never been to an authentic British Pub before, we pored over the menu with great anticipation, and here are our selections:
- House Made Steak & Ale Pie - Angus sirloin with Guinness, peas, carrots, onions, potatoes & mushrooms baked with a crispy puff pastry topping & side salad
- Union Jack Fish and Chips - fresh Atlantic Cod, dipped in our signature Union Jack Beer Batter and served with house-made British chips, malt vinegar and a choice of mushy peas or coleslaw
- Traditional British Shepherd’s Pie - made with fresh ground lamb, peas, carrots, potatoes & a lashing of gravy with Side Salad & Fresh Baguette
My thirteen-year-old is a picky eater who hates trying new things, and feels he is too mature to order from the children's menu. Noah, our server, was very understanding and brought out a complimentary basket of fresh bread and butter, and also gave my son a cup of shredded cheese to accompany the fries he ordered.
The rest of us were lost in culinary ecstasy. The authentic fish and chips were fried to perfection. The steak and ale pie was awesome, with bite-sized portions of tender beef and a gravy that brought the flavors of the ingredients together without overpowering them. And the shepherd's pie...wow! It was my first time eating lamb, and I was not disappointed. Everything we ordered arrived at our table exactly as it was described on the menu. Except for a few stray British chips, each of us enjoyed our entire meal leaving mere crumbs behind.
Serving a wide array of beer and wine from all over the world, the Union Jack certainly offers someone to please everyone's beverage palate. The selection of beer includes both domestic and imported draughts, bottles, and microbrews. Wines from as close as Berryville, Virginia and as far away as South Africa and New Zealand -- and just about everywhere in between -- are found on the ever-evolving list. Those with a more sober appetite will find a variety of sodas and unsweet tea on the menu as well.
Not Just for Dining
The Union Jack offers a lounge area on the second floor while the decor of the third is decked out in a British Invasion theme that hearkens to the owner's native country. The restaurant's attention to detail and friendly atmosphere make it a popular gathering place. From a group enjoying a business luncheon to a wedding couple's rehearsal dinner or reception party, the Union Jack is available for all types of social functions.
Whether you have questions about the restaurant or want to book it for a social event, contact the staff directly at 540-722-2055. Or better yet, stop in at 101 North Loudoun Street in Winchester, Virginia and enjoy a bit of authentic British fare yourself. (I recommend the Shepherd's Pie!)