Saturday, 15 May 2010

Jamie's Italian, Leeds city centre

Because this is a “big name” restaurant, the plan was to go in and sample everything that is on offer - starter, main, pudding, wine, martinis (both before and after).

To set the scene, I had already been shopping and bought two pairs of shoes, so the “take home message” was that I was willing to spend a fair bit today on lunch.

Psycho Psu was the lunch companion and a good one to sample a new restaurant. She manages to put away three courses without wincing, and regards anything less than a bottle of wine with lunch as the wimp’s option.

The restaurant is busy, as it only opened last Sunday. There is an open kitchen when you walk in, where a lot of chefs grapple for space. Lots of shouting and movement – a busy kitchen. Luckily we were seated on the ground floor near all the action. There is further seating upstairs.

Once seated, we ordered the grape and cucumber martinis to start which came very well recommended from the waitress, a friendly young woman who was very knowledgeable about the menu. These arrived with a slice of cucumber on the rim and were very refreshing – a clear taste of grape juice.

The menu is typical Jamie Oliver (lots of chilli and olive oil) – a few of the dishes seem familiar from either his TV shows or his cookbooks. Starters are dominated by antipasti – meat and vegetarian. Psycho Psu ordered the meat “plank” and I ordered the mushroom bruscetta. I found it slightly strange that the mushrooms were served cold on the bruscetta – I expected them to be warm. The antipasti was good, though, with salami, parma ham and cheese. It really needs to be served with bread which you had to order separately. We quickly ordered it. They have this strange presentation style where they bring two full tins of Italian tomatoes and balance the antipasti plank on them. We didn’t get to keep the tins.

The antipasti plank.....

The mushroom bruscetta....

We both decided on pasta for main course, although the mackerel special was tempting. I had Truffle Tagliatelle and Psycho Psu had the Carbonara. My tagliatelle was good. The Carbonara was thick tube pasta, slightly different than you would expect. Psu said the bacon made it really salty but generally pleasant. The only criticism was that the food was warm, not particularly hot, and not warm at all by the time we had finished.

The Truffle Tagliatelle.....

The Carbonara.....

We ordered a green salad on the side. The general agreement was that it was too drenched in yogurt and mint dressing....

The pudding menu is very tempting. Lots of lovely desserts on offer. The panna cotta was outstanding, with strawberry coulis on the side. The chocolate and hazelnut cake was tasty. We thought it would be a chocolate sponge, but it was actually plain, with a chocolate topping. Not what was expected, but good none the less.

We ordered an espresso martini to go with the puddings. These were lovely, with a foamy topping and a couple of coffee beans. A bit more alcoholic that your average coffee.

Overall we had a good experience at Jamie’s Italian. Service was a little slow at times. When we ordered bread to go with the antipasti, it took a while. (There is a bread “area” where waiters cut it up ready to serve). However, our friendly waitress was knowledgeable about the menu and clearly was interested in our enjoyment and experience of the food and drink.

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