A TOUCH OF ESTUARY-MEDITERRANEAN COLOUR IN NOTTINGHAM
By Roger Murrow
Jamie Oliver needs no introduction to foodies anywhere. He has now made his cooking philosophy available to the masses north of Watford through the development of a concept of Italian influenced restaurants. One of the latest has recently opened in Nottingham, where housed in a grand old building near the Lace Market, he aims to recreate what Italians are most proud of – rustic dishes, using recipes that have been tried, tested and loved. The self-avowed aim of Jamie’s Italian is to serve exceptional food, but at the same time create an environment with a “neighbourhood” feel, inspired by the “Italian table”. Thus customers are encouraged to relax, share, and enjoy each other’s company as Jamie’s Italian has been designed to be accessible and affordable. To this end Jamie’s Italian menu is driven by what you’d find ordinary people eating over in Italy, dishes made with the best ingredients that can be sourced – both locally and in Italy – made with care but delivered without lots of fuss.
So, does reality match the vision? In a previous life I cut my gastronautical teeth cheffing in an Italian restaurant and have since judged all UK-based Italian eateries on the high quality food served there. Jamie’s not only matches it, but exceeds in both its concept as an eatery, and the delicious food that is served. One of the first things that strike’s you about Jamie’s is that the staff looks as if they care. All encountered were enthusiastic, articulate and knowledgeable in way you don’t see many British restaurant staff appear. This is matched as you look around the restaurant as people do seem relaxed, happy and enjoying themselves. Contrast that to a few “quality” eateries we all know in Nottingham. As to the food itself; the anti-pasta was exceptional with the stars of the show being the sardines and bread. Now, bread is often overlooked here in this sceptred isle, and it was a real joy to be served a bread selection that was truly delicious. When combined with the anti-pasta you almost wanted to forgo the mains………..however, professionalism drove me forward.
My main was the “special”, and special it truly was. A slow roast shin of beef served with a thicker form of pasta that has been designed to both compliment the dish, and act as an absorbent for the sauce. My partner enjoyed a sea food linguine that was as good as I’ve eaten anywhere, and the green salad we shared was crisp, light and refreshing. The wine list is of exceptional value, and those of us who like the odd glass (ahem) will not be disappointed. Highly recommended.