photo by dainee
"I love Jamie's Italian," an Italian colleague of mine who hailed from Turin declared to me just the other day. Italians have got this knack of putting their points across by forming an 'o' with their index finger and thumb and jabbing into the thin air repeatedly. She did precisely that and I thought better of recounting my earlier experience at Jamie's Italian. After all, I can't really argue with an Italian about Italian food, can I?
Wife and I decided to give Jamie's Italian another go when she happened to drop by after work. As before, there was a bit of a queue forming outside the restaurant and we were given a pager. "It'll be a forty minutes wait," the reception staff quipped nonchalantly. We decided to wait it out as we didn't really fancy braving the chilling winds again.
Five minutes later, our pager sprung into action with a violent vibration. I stared at it with disbelief. There must be a mistake, or so I thought. The same staff strode over, "Hi, we do have a table for you now. Would you like to come with me?". Brilliant. I followed her across the restaurant with a silly grin on my face.
We made our orders and took a cursory glance around. The place was packed as always. Jamie's Italian has started to take reservations for Christmas lunches and dinners but only if you have a party of at least six. Corks were being popped every couple of minutes and people were clearly enjoying themselves.
Twenty minutes later, our antipasti arrived. The crispy squid (£5.50) wasn't crispy but we have tasted worse. Instead of the normal ring shaped, the squid was cut into large triangular pieces, which were refreshing. A squeeze of the accompanying slice of lemon added some zestiness to it. Garlic mayo with specks what tasted like cinnamon completed the dish.
I ordered the buscatini carbonara (£9.95) again. This time round, I went in with my eyes opened, fully knowing what I should expect. While I appreciated the generous portion of crispy fried smoked pancetta, I am still not convinced that buscatini should be made into a carbonara dish.
The first few forkfuls of Wife's angel hair (£13.50) were satisfying. The squid ink added quite a bit of flavour to the pasta although the thin scallop slices hardly made a difference. It went downhill quite soon after for there were sizable clumps of angel hair towards the bottom of the plate and quite a number of them too. It became apparent that the angel hair was overcooked and as a result stuck together.
We beckoned to the nearest staff who promptly walked over. When shown the clumps of angel hair. She was a bit taken aback. She mumbled something under her breath and assured us that she would be back. She never did. Eventually, another staff came over to clear our plates. I pointed the same to her.
"Oh, this shouldn't be the case but it happens sometimes, especially with spaghetti and all," she replied reassuringly. Oh really? I guess I should be appeased then, shouldn't I? I thought that was a really disappointing response from a restaurant that bore the name of a respected British TV chef. Pity really, the service was fantastic up to that point.
Sorry, Jamie. I won't be back in a hurry.