Advertised as 'for a limited time only' but in fact with a three year lease, the Diner replaces an old steak/rib joint and a tired pizza-per-slice place on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of touristy Piccadilly. Downstairs is a hot dog to go walk-in walk-out affair but we were in the mood for something more substantial so headed upstairs to be greeted by multi-colour dinosaurs towering over the tables.
The menu reminded me of those tray inserts from fast food places, and were equally as garish and confusing (we joked that we should offer to redesign it to help make it easier to understand). There's no real logical feel to the menu and it's difficult to navigate through, leaving it feeling a bit of a mish-mash. We ordered drinks and starters to help us make up our mind - and were told that two of the things we wanted were not available. Great start. Instead, we settled on sticky chicken wings, a sweet potato quesadilla, and tortilla chips with guacamole to share.
Having indulged in MeatMission the night before, I was in no mood for another burger so opted for one of the less inspiring options - a salad. Ringed with angel halos (indicating the healthy option), I went for the My Big Fat Greek Salad which came as a massive bowl with lots of vinegary dressing. A fairly poor representation of Oliver's healthy meals, I've made nicer Greek salads at home. Everyone's burgers seemed to go down well, along with sides of shoestring fries, crinkle cut chips and avocado fries (underwhelming), but the lack of atmosphere was telling. Whilst staff were friendly, if a little slow and forgetful, they were no competition to the great experiences I've had at (the Guildford branch of) Jamie's Italian.
We finally worked out that the prehistoric decor was a play on 'diner/dino' - 'dinersaur', get it? A little stretched, it probably would have been a more successful venture to deck it out in traditional ol' American diner get-up. Given that there's so many diner/burger joints all over the city (as previously mentioned here) Jamie Oliver's Diner is not one I'd bother returning to. It feels too insincere and the quality just isn't there, I give this place a two out of five.