Not Just Jamie's Italian

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Essexgirl09 on February 18, 2013

I don’t know why it had taken so long for me to visit Jamie’s Italian chain of restaurants. Maybe it was the fact you couldn’t book (I have tried ad hoc a few times) or maybe it was the fact that Jamie himself always seemed a bit smug that put me off trying too hard. The chain was founded by TV chef Jamie Oliver and his friend Gennaro Contaldo in 2008 and now has upwards of thirty branches throughout the UK. My friend recently discovered that you could now book in advance, so made a reservation for the two of us one Friday evening in Canary Wharf. The booking was for 8.15pm and we were slightly early and invited to wait at the bar or at one of the tables ‘outside’ (the restaurant was within some sort of shopping centre/office complex). We decided to order our wine at the bar and although we didn’t know which table we would be sitting at, the server took a credit card and gave us a key. Once seated, we gave the key to our waitress and she returned our credit card, and the wine was added to our bill (the card wasn’t charged).

To drink we chose a Sauvignon Blanc (around the £20 mark), which was very drinkable, and not too dry. It was (allegedly) "herby with melon flavours", but it tasted much like wine to me. They also do wines by the glass, beers, shorts and cocktails.

Veggies beware; there is no trusty ‘V’ sign on the menu to help you. I had checked the website beforehand and knew what I could eat, as the use of traditional Italian cheeses often also means the use of rennet (sheep stomach) in the ingredients. I am sure your server could help you if unsure. My friend deliberated over the Brixham Bay sardine bruschetta (£5.50) or the crispy squid with garlic mayo, chilli and lemon (£5.75). In the end he went for the latter as I had been teasing him for being a wimp and not eating spicy food. As it was he picked the chilli out, but otherwise he really enjoyed his starter. It was quite a small portion, it seemed, as he finished it in no time. I went for the Posh Garlic Mushrooms on toast (basically mushroom bruschetta) which was a long thin piece of garlic bread topped with lots of assorted chopped mushrooms in garlic, chilli and parsley. It was served on a massive plate and took some getting through. I didn’t finish it as I wanted to save room for my main course, and because the last pieces of chopped mushroom were so awash in oil they refused to be scooped up on my fork.

Starters were cleared promptly, and after a suitable period our main courses arrived. My friend went for Sicilian Tuna Fusilli at £11.95, (apparently this is Jool’s Oliver’s favourite for those that are interested in such things) and my friend certainly enjoyed it. I went for Honeycomb Cannelloni Three Ways (£10.95). Served in an earthenware dish on a wooden board, the three different flavoured cannelloni were cut up and served on their ends to look like a honeycomb pattern. I wish I had remembered to take a photo as I was quiet taken with the presentation. More importantly than that, I loved the flavours. One flavour was the veggie staple spinach and ricotta, as well as pumpkin and my favourite aubergine and sun-dried tomato. My only problem, as I said to my friend, was that it was so nice that if I came back I would be worried about ordering anything else in case it didn’t live up to this dish. Thus the cannelloni gets the thumbs up from me.

We were neither of us too keen on the idea of desserts, feeling fairly full and instead decided to get a second bottle of wine and stay and finish it, rather than moving on and finding somewhere else. The inside of the restaurant was quite dark, but my eyes soon adjusted. As you come in they have a display of cookbooks, foodie gifts and tableware if you are so inclined, and the bar is on the left. Most of the seating is for diners, so if you have to wait a while you may find yourself having to stand around the bar, which was quite cramped. They have hooks around the pillars for your coats. We were seated so I was on a banquette seat, whilst my friend on an individual chair opposite. Seating was comfortable and there were no wobbly tables. Toilets were upstairs (I would imagine as a new building there would be adequate disabled facilities, but I did not see them). They were clean and well stocked with all the necessary. Service was always friendly and obliging, and efficient. In spite of being such a large, open plan restaurant it did seem to have a good atmosphere.

According to the menu they cater for children (we did see a pushchair as we went in) and I wouldn’t doubt this is a family friendly chain, although I am not sure that Canary Wharf, being primarily a business district, naturally attracts a family clientele. For the adults as well as pasta, they do steaks, burgers and fish dishes.

Overall our bill came to just under £80 excluding tip, but that did include two bottles of wine. Whilst not the cheapest restaurant you will ever eat in, I did think the food and presentation was to a high standard and well worth the money.

Unit 17
2 Churchill Place
Canary Wharf
E14 5RB
020 3002 5252

Monday - Friday
11.30am - 11pm
12 noon - 11pm
12 noon - 10.30pm
Jamie's Italian
2 Churchill Place
London, England, 14 5
020 3002 5252

© LP 2000-2009