Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jamie’s Italian is brilliant, but . . .

I finally got to my nearest Jamie’s Italian, some 2 years after it opened in Bath. To be honest the tales of the queues had put me off and I probably would have postponed the experience yet again had I not manage to blag a table courtesy of the local Milsom Place PR. (I know. I shouldn’t. But wouldn’t you given the chance?*)

There seemed to be plenty of people ready to brave the hour to an hour and a quarter's wait for a table, happily paying for the pleasure by ordering drinks from the bar (which I'm assuming weren't free).

Is it worth it? Well, yes, if you’re patient it is. It’s far, far better than any other chain I’ve been to from the point of view of food and service and brilliant value for money.

I ordered a ‘plank’ of seasonal meat antipasti (£6.95, above)- easily enough for a meal - which consisted of Tuscan fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, San Daniele prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, pecorino and chilli jam, olives and a great little salad of pickled root veg described by my server as ‘dry coleslaw’ (Jamie’s is wonderfully unintimidating). Followed by a ‘small’ (actually quite large) portion of pasta (though not the advertised pappardelle) with a chunky rustic rabbit sauce (also £6.95) which you’d be hard pushed to get in Italy for the price.

You could - and of course I’m going to - quibble. They should warn you when you’re dining alone that the bread basket (£3.50) is big enough for a table of 4. I suspect the focaccia had been baked the previous day. The wine by the glass could have been fresher and I think they could do better than their rather flabby house Chardonnay which is served from a Tetrapak carton (no problem with that other than its effect on the contents)

And I do wonder if all these queues are strictly necessary. There were a couple of empty tables around me for at least half my meal and they apparently close the top floor during the afternoon when you might stand a chance of getting in without an hour's wait. Could it be that queuing is part of the schtick?

But it’s good, honest, generous food served by incredibly friendly staff. You could take anyone there from a 2 year old to an 82 year old. Not many restaurants out of London offer that - particularly at the price. Good old Jamie.

* I did pay in full for my meal though, in case you were wondering . . .

Have you been to a Jamie's Italian and what did you think?


  1. I've been to the one in Westfield London a few times now with my 14-month-old son. They're quite empty if you get there just before lunch rush on a weekday, about 12.30. I can't express how nice it is to have a lovely place to have a meal with him - without it costing the earth or feeling like everyone is just waiting for you to leave. Elliot loves the food too!

  2. Queues enough to put me off (but then I'm becoming increasingly grumpy about queuing for anything!) but it does sound as though it is worth the agony...

  3. Husband went to Kingston branch and came back raving. I think he went with very low expectations and was genuinely surprised. He thought the quality of the food for the price was great.

  4. Have been at the one in Reading. I think "Value for money" sums it up; an overall fantastic experience!

  5. I've not been but wanting to go even more now! Glad to hear Kingston branch rated as is quite near to me and was considering going next week..

    The meat platter sounds like a great lunch!

  6. Do go, all. Say what you like about Jamie he knows his grub which is far better than it need be for the price. A great place to take kids and get them used to proper Italian food.

  7. Am a big fan - especially as I live in a part of the country renowned for being populated with terrible, terrible restaurants.

    The local Jamie's is a breath of fresh air - and definitely worth the wait.

  8. Have been to the one in Leeds.

    I think it has to be viewed as an interpretation of Italian, as we had a couple of dishes (including Porchetta) that you'd be hard pushed to find a restaurant in Italy serving in the style or with the ingredients.

    Was genuinely underwhelmed by the quality (taste) of things like the antipasti though. We are lucky in Leeds to have an excellent Italian restaurant with it's own Salumeria - and the night before we'd picked up a selection of antipasti meats and cheeses and the quality was far superior.

    That said - we went as a family, we finished our meals, and they happily picked up the debris scattered by the baby. You can't fault that.

  9. Also been to Bath - the Lamb Chop Lollipops were a highlight - perfectly cooked cutlets with a variety of dipping sauces. Looking forward to the Park Street branch opening in the next few months.

  10. Tell us about your Leeds place, Chris. Spread the word . . .

    And Stan, yes, it'll be good when the Park Street branch opens. Should help business in that part of town. And just a 10 minute walk away!

  11. We went to Jamie's in Liverpool for an early lunch and on balance we were fairly impressed although our expectations had not been overly high! I like that the dishes are not overly elaborate / complicated and rather focus on good quality, wholesome ingredients that are well cooked and seasoned. We tried a few different wines by the glass and all were fresh (but Saturday lunch follows what was likely to have been a busy Friday evening). The staff were very good indeed; friendly, attentive & well-briefed but not OTT; on balance I'm sure that we'll be back although Jamie's is not short on competition in this part of town - Lunya remains our first port of call...

  12. You're right, Jon, it is all about expectations. I took my daughter to Fifteen in the summer as a treat and had a very disappointing meal (which to be fair they reacted to very positively). I didn't expect that much of Jamie's in Bath and was pleasantly surprised