Monday, 28 July 2014
Jamie's Italian Oxford
Last week, I was very kindly invited along to Jamie's Italian Oxford. I hadn't been there since it first opened six years ago, in June 2008. I remember being served olives on ice in a mood lighting setting, with great atmosphere and leaving one full but happy customer. Coming back to review the restaurant, I wondered if my past experience would work for or against me, but I needn't have worried as the service and food that Friday made me a true convert of chain restaurants. If you know me well, you'd know I'd much rather scope out the little eatery out in the middle of nowhere that does the best tapas. Push my hipster nature to the side and I can really get on board with the ethos Jamie has instilled in all his restaurants and staff alike.
Upon entry, the first thing I noted was how busy it was. It was a Friday night, bustling with people having cocktails at the bar and waiting for a table, others ordering at tables with a view to a good night out. After being given a window seat, we had a view of the entire restaurant, which was perfect to soak in the ambiance and get a real feel for how the restaurant operates. A quick browse at the menu and I realised just how much my carb craving was going to take a front seat for the night. After deciding on a refreshing crisp bottle of Vermentino we grilled our incredibly knowledgeable waitress, Becky, about the meat platter. Not only could she name every single item on the board, but her answers were quick, in-depth and completely effortless. Choosing the meat platter was a no-brainer; a plethora of cured meats, cheeses, pickles and salad, all lovingly presented on a board propped up with the cutest tins of tomatoes. Paired with some Crispy King Prawns, it was enough to call it a night without a main!
Opting for the Carbonara, I had my prayers well and truly answered for carb heaven. Topped with crispy pancetta and leeks, this was so rich and completely filling. James made a solid choice in the seared tuna salad, which looked like a masterpiece when it arrived at the table. Yellowfin tuna served pink with a salad of mixed beans, chilli, mint, lemon and mustard dressing, and made to pop with a sprinkling of purple potato. A side order of Posh Chips (loaded with parmesan and truffle oil) and I was set to bring my toothbrush and move in permanently.
Feeling far too bloated and satisfied from our starter and mains, we skipped dessert and instead had an espresso with a digestif of Grappa, which was more than a little potent and highly recommended. By this point the light had well and truly dwindled outside, the tables were still bustling with people and the lights had dimmed further. It was a corner I could have stayed put in for the rest of the evening and enjoyed a few cocktails. I couldn't fault the service and the food surpassed expectations, leaving me gushing for days afterward to both family and friends.
Jamie's Italian has certainly made the roster for a place I will frequent in Oxford, especially if I want to impress with the presentation alone. Now the only question will be what to order next…?