Alli is a freelance writer and blogger who has contributed to the lifestyle sections of publications including The Guardian and The Telegraph. She regularly researches and writes articles for a local newspaper and happily reviews products and events
Published September 9th 2012
Italian food served with splendour
When Jamie Oliver chose the building known as 'The King of King Street' to be his next renovation project for Jamie's Italian, he definitely knew what he was doing.
The Neo Classical building constructed in the 1930's was formerly the Midland Bank. Built using Portland stone it has a distinct structure and height that gives it a grandeur and castle like appearance dominating the street. To the credit of the designers the interior has been tastefully updated without forfeiting any of the original magnificence. As you enter, the splendour takes your breath away and instantly fills you with an air of expectation.
Booking a table is easily done on the website, but for would be diners who haven't booked there is an option of waiting in the bar area. You will be given a personal pager that discreetly flashes and bleeps when your table is ready. Beware though the waiting time can be quite lengthy and there isn't a great deal of seating available in the bar area. My friend and I dined on a Saturday lunch and had to wait for an hour before being seated. To make the most of this time I leisurely perused the cocktail list, finally deciding on Mojito. I was not disappointed. The usual ingredient of soda water had been substituted with Prosecco giving it an Italian suggestion. The aroma from the fresh mint was exquisite and it was one of the most refreshing Mojito's I have ever tasted. For those who prefer wine, there is an extensive list of Italian wines with prices ranging from a modest £16 bottle to a not so modest £135 bottle. Wine can be purchased in a 500ml pichet which solves any problem of dining with someone who has a different palate to yourself and also offers the scope of having a different wine with each course.
Anti-pasti may be ordered at the bar. Meat, fish or cheese is offered on 'Planks' and there is a selection of bread and bruschetta available. Cured meats and salami hang from an area next to the bar where some of the anti-pasta is prepared, in view of the diners.
Once seated the waiter was very attentive and displayed an amazing knowledge of the food offered. It was clear that the staff were trained to a high standard. He described the specials with a remarkable attention to detail and was not shy in offering recommendations. He was very helpful in advising which dishes would complement one another. The menu is written with an authentic Italian twist and I had to ask for help deciphering some of the ingredients but all questions were answered with passion. Many of the dishes are offered in 2 sizes which is great for sharing a few dishes or for someone with a smaller appetite. The full size main meals average at about £13.
Having tasted the food I am in no doubt that the food prepared is fresh. The pasta was silky and the sauces were seeped with delicious herbs and plenty of garlic. I had the wild rabbit and the meat was lovely and tender. Dessert was the perfect size. It was big enough to enjoy but not over facing. I chose a homemade ice-cream which was served side by side on a wooden plank with a liquor coffee.
The restaurant offers a private dining experience. The rooms offered are the old bank manager's office, the old bank manager's secretary's office and most impressively, the old basement bank vault with wall to wall safety deposit boxes. However it is not necessary to hire the private dining room to experience the bank vaults as uniquely the toilets are also situated within some of them. Ladies have individual vaults each housing a toilet and a sink.
Based on my experience at Jamie's I would definitely recommend it. I have intentions to reserve the bank vault to celebrate my 40th birthday and feel confident that I will not be disappointed. The food is exceptional with a price range wide enough to suit all budgets and the building creates the perfect ambience.
Jamie's Italian is open every day from 12 noon. It closes at 11pm Monday to Saturday and at 10:30pm on a Sunday.