Does anybody even remember that reference anymore? A reference from a time where cooking shows were not reality shows and chefs didn’t go around inventing cooking challenges requiring the combined use of ingredients like chocolate chips, ice cream, tuna, and sour cream aided only by the help of tin foil and a whisk. (Also, why even?)
It was a simpler time. When shows were about the food and the people and the chefs – the chefs speaking in cute accents with even cuter lisps. Alas, I digress. But if you can’t already tell, I’ve practically been a fan of Jamie Oliver since I’ve been old enough to eat so when I was walking through Westfield Shepherd’s Bush and saw the bright lights of Jamie’s Italian, I obviously thought, “Meh. Could do.”
It is with that enthusiasm that three ladies found themselves dining at one of more than thirty Jamie Oliver restaurants at 9 pm on a Friday night.
Jamie nails the ambience (as they do in London) with his trendy yet rustic vibe. And by rustic, I’m clearly talking about the ovenware, tableware, and wooden antipasti planks they have for sale near the entrance. Because really, there’s not much else that spells rustic more than an antipasti plank amiright?
Casual but with a flair for fun, Jamie’s would make a decent venue for a date night (ie. first dates, second dates, and especially date nights for long term couples who have possibly hit a bit of a rut and are looking to spice things up with a bit of ultimate antipasti platter sharing).
It makes an even better venue for three haggard, sweaty Canadian ladies dressed for comfort (ie. the homeless look) after spending the entire afternoon shopping at the mall.
A quick glance at the menu indicates there are a number of appetizer, antipasti, pasta, main, and salad options.
Our shared large caprese salad was the first to arrive. At 9 pound 25, this salad wasn’t looking particularly large, but there’s London for you. Where food comes small or not at all – because even more concerning was that at 9 pound 25, this salad first arrived sans four pieces of buffalo mozzarella. Call me Canadian (and cheap), but I’m fairly certain caprese all around the world involves mozzarella in some shape or form.
When I asked the server about it, she answered with a, “It should come with it?” (Are you asking me?)
She whisked it away and returned moments later with two whole pieces of mozzarella divided into halves dumped haphazardly over the tomatoes. Not terrible but not great. Though not the freshest, the tomatoes paired refreshingly with the proscuitto.
Famous prawn linguine with garlicky prawns, tomatoes, fennel, chili, and rocket arrived next. Prawns in London must mean something different than prawns in Vancouver because these prawns sure seemed a lot more shrampy to me than anything else. A sight for hungry eyes, the chunks of tomato and rocket atop a bed of vibrant red linguine managed to hit the spot for me tonight.
Okay yes, the in-house handmade pasta may have had a texture a little too close to chewing gum for my liking and the tomato sauce felt more like it could have been a tomato soup, but I did not hate it. The rocket added an interesting peppery element (that a certain mother present at the dining table chose to kick to the side of their plate).
My sister on the other hand probably had a thing or two to say about her meal. Something along the lines of, “Meh.”
An interesting choice for dinner, she opted for two appetizers. Fried pasta and Arancini Margherita. Lackluster in its delivery, the fried pasta was litrally just that. Deep fried pasta with a couple dobs of tomato sauce and cheese. It’s safe to say she probably regretted her meal selections that night.
With a flair for fun, would I return to Jamie’s Italian?
Maybe. Could do with more naked chefs, but maybe. Quality, presentation, and general care may have been slightly absent but I’ve had worse. Boy have I had worse.