Jamie's Italian

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Old Jul 1, 11, 7:45 am
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Jamie's Italian

Has anyone eaten at one of these?
(http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/food-menu)
Locations:

OXFORD
BATH
BIRMINGHAM
KINGSTON
BRIGHTON
BRISTOL
CANARY WHARF
GLASGOW
GUILDFORD
CARDIFF
CAMBRIDGE
READING
LEEDS
NOTTINGHAM
COVENT GARDEN
LIVERPOOL
WESTFIELD
PORTSMOUTH
DUBAI
SYDNEY

I go to my local one semi-frequently and it's absolutely the best restaurant in town. The thing is Jamie Oliver might be overreached in central London but these restaurants are perfect for the provinces, where the local Italian serves reformed ham and cheap pasta.

Points:

* ingredients are all of a very high quality - they deal with a supplier in Cornwall and get the fish daily. Cured meat etc. is all top-grade, the pasta is made by hand in the restaurant
* the standard of cooking is good - something like 'crispy squid' is genuinely crispy, not stodgy or oily (fresh oil) and comes with a nice garlic mayo
* the service is not great, the atmosphere is casual, not romantic or business-like, and there tend to be queues out the door every night
* the bank manager has been over the menu - 4.25 for the smallest glass of wine in a casual restaurant in the provinces is priced to maximise yield, my fish stew at 14.75 was not particularly big and the fish used not expensive varieties, but the flavour is unmatchable in your typical provincial restaurant
* they seem to have figured out how to 'chain' a restaurant - over two years the standards have not dropped despite having two dozen branches all over the country.
* it's going to the best dining choice in most of the towns it's in
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Old Jul 1, 11, 8:45 am
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I've been to the one in Covent Garden. Service was very slow (and the place was very loud), but the food was pretty good.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 8:56 am
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Well I can see why they haven't opened in Edinburgh - all sounds a bit mediocre compared with what I can eat here.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 10:25 am
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Not been, but the one in Cambridge has been queued out (they don't take reservations) whenever I've been past. Actually, that's specifically why I haven't been!

As for being the best dining choice in town - well, I'll reserve judgement until I've been. But there's an awful lot of good places to eat in/around Cambridge.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 12:39 pm
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Originally Posted by stut View Post
Not been, but the one in Cambridge has been queued out (they don't take reservations) whenever I've been past. Actually, that's specifically why I haven't been!

As for being the best dining choice in town - well, I'll reserve judgement until I've been. But there's an awful lot of good places to eat in/around Cambridge.
Similar for my nearest one in Brighton - friends that have been said that it's OK but nothing special - there's a lso a lot of good competition within a few minutes walk of it in The Lanes
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Old Jul 1, 11, 12:59 pm
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I agree with your point of view, in the provinces with rather mediocre competition from the usual chains (The Pizza Expressification of the High Street if you like) Jamie's Italian is a notch above the average. I suspect in the majority of cases it isn't neccessarily the best in town and in London certainly there is much better value elsewhere, nevertheless it does fill a gap that I'm not sure anyone really knew existed.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 1:33 pm
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I had dinner with a Greek friend at the Canary Wharf property. She was enthusiastic, I was underwhelmed to the utmost degree: service overhyped and actually lackadaisical, food nothing special, wine subpar. Is it too much to ask to have a basic Chianti Classico and not just a Chianti? As I was staying in Canary Wharf for a few days, I had dinner at the Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons the following evening; it was just twice as expensive and much, much better. I haven't tried the Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Hyde Park corner yet, though . Not coming back to Jamie's, ever.

By the way, on my last trip to Milan, I ate excellent spaghettini for about EUR 7.00 and had a great ristretto for ... EUR 0.85. Great memories !

Last edited by JOUY31; Jul 1, 11 at 1:40 pm
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Old Jul 1, 11, 1:57 pm
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Originally Posted by JOUY31 View Post
I had dinner with a Greek friend at the Canary Wharf property. She was enthusiastic, I was underwhelmed to the utmost degree: service overhyped and actually lackadaisical, food nothing special, wine subpar. Is it too much to ask to have a basic Chianti Classico and not just a Chianti? As I was staying in Canary Wharf for a few days, I had dinner at the Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons the following evening; it was less than twice as expensive and much, much better. I haven't tried the Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Hyde Park corner yet, though .
I think you are missing the point rather. It's not supposed to be the Four Seasons or Le Gavroche.

Around the country the typical high street dining scene consists of:

Nandos - well-executed but basically low-grade ingredients
Pizza Express - well past its sell-by date
(at least one more subpar Italian chain - Ask, or similar)
several Indian restaurants, independent or part of a local group
Wagamamas - slightly tired noodle concept
Yo Sushi - dreadful stale sushi
several Thai restaurants
sometimes a mediocre tapas place
Giraffe - not sure what the point of this place is
one of a number of variants on 'posh burger'

If you go out of town, things get even worse - Frankie & Benny, Chiquito, Harvester et al.

So for casual dining really not a great selection. I actually just went to Jamies now after taking the kids to the park, me and two children, I like my food but I wouldn't have wanted to sit down at a starched table cloth with a waiter scraping the crumbs off the tablecloth. Obviously if you always go out for dinner wearing a suit and tie, this might not matter to you, but clearly there is a big market for casual dining, yet most of it is absolutely terrible.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 2:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Jenbel View Post
Well I can see why they haven't opened in Edinburgh - all sounds a bit mediocre compared with what I can eat here.
Oh stop being a foody snooty Jenbel.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 2:20 pm
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We've been to the local one in Kingston a few times. I agree, it's a great value place to eat with decent food.

The only criticism I have is that they don't allow you to book in advance unless you have a large party. On the night you turn up and either queue or put your name down. If you put your name down they call you and you've five minutes to get back there to claim your table. As they're so popular I guess they can afford to do this.

Bonus, The Edge (U2), was dining there one night last summer with his family.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 2:27 pm
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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
Oh stop being a foody snooty Jenbel.
I think he meant the deep-fried mars bars and Irn Bru.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 2:35 pm
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I've been to the one in Kingston a few times. Service is a little slow as others mentioned, they were quite busy but I've been to other places that know how to deal with it. I suppose it was fairly close to opening the first time I went also.

Food was nice, but it's nothing stellar. I don't believe they pretend to be otherwise.
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Old Jul 1, 11, 3:03 pm
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While I'm on the subject, we did the fish filleting lesson at Recipease (http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipease/easy-to-learn.html) and it was a fantastic deal. 30 each with a glass of wine, for that we got about 2 hours with 3 of us and 1 instructor, and the food at the end:

poached sea bass with salsa verde
pan-fried seabass with butter sauce
fried and baked mackerel, lemon sole, sea bream and sardines
salad of artichokes, rocket, cherry tomatoes with lemon dressing

There was easily 30 of raw fish there all very fresh.

You would pay 875 for two days at Le Manoir (not being taught by Raymond Blanc of course) http://www.manoir.com/web/olem/fish_and_shellfish.jsp - Recipease is great. I'm still not sure about Jamie Oliver though.....
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Old Jul 2, 11, 4:40 am
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Originally Posted by meester69 View Post
So for casual dining really not a great selection. I actually just went to Jamies now after taking the kids to the park, me and two children, I like my food but I wouldn't have wanted to sit down at a starched table cloth with a waiter scraping the crumbs off the tablecloth. Obviously if you always go out for dinner wearing a suit and tie, this might not matter to you, but clearly there is a big market for casual dining, yet most of it is absolutely terrible.
I'm not sure you're living in the same country as me!

The divide between "casual dining" and "fine dining" really isn't to the same degere here as it is elsewhere (e.g. the US). There's a huge range of places, chain and independent, that happily straddle the divide between voucher-code fuelled adequacy and starched fiddliness.

Naturally, in smaller towns, you don't get anything approaching the range you get elsewhere (although, particularly in the country, and on the edges of these towns, there's a growing number of pubs who have finally realised that Brake Bros is not the way to get the customers in). However, the locations you've listed for Jamie's Italian aren't these small towns - they're decent sized towns and cities, with already well established independent restaurants.

I'm quite willing to accept that Jamie's Italian can be rather good. But a revolution in casual dining? Well, if one opens in Biggleswade, or possibly even Hitchin, maybe I'll agree then...
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Old Jul 2, 11, 5:27 am
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Originally Posted by MagicWok View Post
I've been to the one in Kingston a few times. Service is a little slow as others mentioned, they were quite busy but I've been to other places that know how to deal with it. I suppose it was fairly close to opening the first time I went also.

Food was nice, but it's nothing stellar. I don't believe they pretend to be otherwise.
Nice user name MagicWok, you wouldn't happen to be named after an establishment in nearby Surbiton would you? Best around, we enjoyed some of their delights last night.
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