I’ve already made a couple of attempts to visit Jamie’s Italian in Canary Wharf, but since its opening late last year and due to its highly irritating ‘no bookings’ policy, the wait has been over an hour and a half each time I’ve tried.
However, it’s now 2010, the hype has died down and I’ve just returned from a late Monday lunch with my family where we walked straight in and took our pick of tables.
What’s The Deal: Jamie’s Italian seems to pitching itself as Carluccio’s younger, brighter, funkier, brother, with restaurants popping up in many new towns and lots more openings forecast around the UK.
The Meal: I ordered Pappa Pomodoro – a rustic “Tuscan peasant soup” (£5.25). It was hearty with a generous amount of fresh basil and gorgeous chunks of soggy tomato-soaked bread and drizzled olive oil. Slightly on the salty side but apart from that a good soup.
Alongside this I ordered Gennaro’s Winter Salad (£3.35). This was a plate of lovely oily chargrilled vegetables – roasted pumpkin, radicchio, red onions, warm plump sultanas and pine nuts (which I forgot just how much I loved). Tasty but perhaps better ordered as a side to a meat dish.
Dining companion 1 ordered Chargrilled Chop Steak Beef Burger, which came stacked high with gherkins and Fontina cheese. The meat looked gorgeous and he confirmed that as far as burgers go, it was pretty faultless.
Dining companion 2 went for a Jamie classic – Roasted Pumpkin Risotto (£10.25). Risottos are in essence easy to do well although I have had a couple of duds at previous London restaurants and occasions where the rice was a little on the hard side. This risotto had the right sticky consistency, lashings of Parmesan and plenty of pumpkin.
Dining companion 3 opted for South Coast Fritto Misto. The menu described this simply as “crispy fried fresh fish using the fish we should be eating”. She complained that the menu should have been a bit more explanatory as the fish included in the dish such as sardines and prawns were not her faves and if the menu had specified, she wouldn’t have ordered it. Good point – Jamie take note!
Toilet Watch: Visiting the toilet during your time at a restaurant is a necessary if not defining moment of any meal. I am very fond of the short break where one is able to stretch their legs, gawp at other diners’ food and check out the standard of the bathroom accessories – eg. Is the loo posh enough to have Molton Brown hand wash and individual hand towels?
Jamie’s designers have gone for an old-fashioned look in the bathroom, opting for traditional Crapper toilets with wooden seats and a row of tall china sinks, topped with an arty array of mirrors in the basin area.
The Final Word: If Jamie’s Italians are trying to steal the Carluccio’s market they will have to work a bit harder to compete with Carluccio’s wonderful Italian deli and foodshop than by simply offering up the odd Jamie tea towel and oven gloves. Jamie’s Italians appeal to a younger market who have far more adventurous tastes than young people 30 years ago and the prices are reasonable. However if he wants to beat Antonio Carluccio's Penne Giardiniera, Jamie’s going to have to stay in the kitchen for a little while longer…
Jamie's Italian, Canary Wharf
2 Churchill Place
Tel: 020 3002 5252