The buzz and energy at Jamie’s Italian is everything you’d expect from an outpost of the cheeky Essex TV chef’s expanding empire: vivacious, eager staff, contemporary urban décor and a broad ranging menu crammed with quality ingredients.
The large room has two tiers of seating that wrap around an L-shaped bar and open kitchen with large ham haunches hanging attractively over the counter. A mix of duct piping, subway tiles, steel girders, raw concrete, wood, comfy green banquettes and brightly coloured café style chairs make it a casual and attractive dining space that enjoys plenty of natural light.
With a 30% reservations policy it can be difficult to land a table at peak times, but those who haven’t booked will enjoy queuing in the large porch where a tiny pasta-making kitchen, complete with diligent chefs, has been installed. It’s a cute gimmick and one that kids will find fascinating.
In fact children are made feel very welcome here, from the menu presented in a novelty viewfinder that kids can click through to view photos of dishes they can order. Offerings include fun choices like chicken lollipops (chargrilled fillets with lemony yoghurt and mixed seeds), Happy Fish Fingers made from sustainable fish with lemon mayo and Mac’n’Cauli Cheese and all come with a clever ‘shake me’ salad in a jar, polenta chips and unlimited organic cordial for €7.95.
Happily the main menu is just as appealing, although prepare to feel confused by the vast choice. Antipasti planks, while served rather unusually balancing on cans of plum tomatoes, offer great vegetarian and meat options, with everything carefully explained by the keen staff.
Pasta is all hand made, and most dishes sing with flavour and beautifully fresh ingredients. Everything from chicken to fish and burgers are given an Italian twist, some more classic than others, but all simply executed, packed with flavour and attractively presented.
Desserts are simple and well done, with the house tiramisu especially good, and, as you’d expect, the coffee is excellent.
The well-trained staff are delightful and extremely welcoming to young families, and can offer advice on anything from wine to cocktails to food recommendations.
It’s good value (although watch the sides, which can quickly mount up) and given its size, Jamie’s can get noisy - so save it for a group celebration, family meal or a casual bite rather than a date.