Last weekend Jamie Oliver cooked for me.
....almost. To be honest, it wasn't himself who cooked the food, but it was in one of his restaurants so I guess that counts for something? :)
Anyway, last weekend I went to London to visit the Better Half, and Saturday afternoon we decided to have lunch at Jamie's Italian in Westfield (isn't it so unbelievably convenient when a restaurant you really want to go to is so close to the shops you also want to go to?). At this point, I should point out that this was the second time we tried to eat at a Jamie's Italian restaurant.
Last time, it was about a month ago, we went to the one in Covent Garden, patiently stood in the queue outside in the freezing cold (because they don't take reservations on Friday nights that is), and about twenty minutes later we finally reach the host who informs us in the most natural way possible that we are looking at about an hour and could he have a name please? I did what anyone in the right frame of mind would have done. I put on my most charming face and smiled: that would be unnecessary, because we won't be staying, thank you and goodbye. In the end we had dinner at a nice Spanish restaurant, again in Covent Garden, with the best home-made Sangria, but for which I cannot provide a name since by the time we left I was too tipsy to walk straight, let alone remember the restaurant's name!
However, back to last weekend. After a (reasonable) fifteen-minute wait, the waitress led us to the other end of the restaurant, allowing us to take a peak in the open kitchen, and a guy making fresh pasta by hand (that's when I decided I simply had to have the pasta). Other than that, the decoration matched the menu: rustic and refined at the same time, simple but with that little bit of 'extra' to make it special. We didn't order any sides or appetizers because we weren't that hungry, but when the couple in the table next to us were served theirs, I was jealous! So make yourself a favour, and when you visit the restaurant do order at least one!
Fast forward to our food, the service was good, the waiters were polite, and the food was yummy. I had the Chicken Liver Tortellini, served with a buttery, aromatic sage sauce, fried sage, crispy pancetta and flamed with Vin Santo. It was delicious. The livers were melt-in-your mouth soft, the pancetta made a great contrast with the silky sauce, the tortellini were cooked al dente and still had that bite, and there was a sweet undertone from the Vin Santo.
In the picture, my tortellini is at the front, but at the back you can see Better Half's Meatball Carbonara. Now I didn't try it, but I was repeatedly assured by BH that it was beyond delicious and that he was impressed (BH doesn't really do celebrity chefs):
Finally, the bill arrived, and I can safely argue that it was a value-for-money meal. The food didn't disappoint and it came down to roughly fifteen pounds per person. If you want to visit one of Jamie's Italian restaurants, arrive early, try to avoid peak hours (eg Saturday night doesn't look too good) and brace yourself with determination in case you also have to deal with a smiling waiter informing you that you are probably looking at about an hour. Nevertheless, I do recommend it despite the wait. You'd most probably already have one near you, with 25 restaurants in the UK, and another one opening in Manchester this coming Spring.