Jamie’s Italian, Nottingham

My trip to Jamie’s Italian in Nottingham was my first experience of any of the Jamie’s Italian chain.

As we were eating before a show it was important we got out the restaurant and to the Capital FM Arena before 8pm. We thought a 5:30pm booking for 4 people would give us plenty of time to get to the venue, however it proved somewhat slower service than expected.

First impressions were good, a friendly girl at reception took us to our table by the window and got us some tap water straight away. The restaurant had a very homely feel to the point it felt like you were sat in someone’s house. Every table seemed to be unique and whilst ours was in a nice position, our chairs seemed to be very soft which made it hard to lean forward and eat comfortably.

Our first waitress was friendly and helpful, our request to change our wine after tasting was met with understanding and even some knowledgeable advise in choosing an alternative bottle.

The restaurants was very loud with very little soft furnishings, therefore I found speaking across our table to be very difficult at normal speech levels. Whilst our waitresses were friendly, due to the high noise levels both stood extremely close to the table (really really close!) which I found slightly intimidating. I appreciate some people enjoy this ‘lively’ atmosphere, but I believe a fine balance can be found between creating a lively restaurant atmosphere and retaining a relaxed table environment.

On to the food…

The menu was a clean over-sized single sheet, nicely laid out and easy to read. Antipasti was available on sharing planks (£6.85-£7.50 per person), plates (£3.45-£6.50) and bread & bruschetta (£3.75-£5.50 and a shared plate for £8.95). My only disappointment here was that the dish I wanted the most was only available for 2 (beautiful bruschetta for 2 – pea and mint ripple, grilled asparagus, smashed broad beans, smoky mozzarella, spinach, mint & chilli) and I had no one to share with!

Pastas were available for starter/mains and were priced between £5.95-£8.20 for starters and £8.95-£13.35 for mains. Slightly higher priced risottos/raviolis were also available, the most expensive being the seaside risotto at £15.95.

It’s only just occurred to me that there wasn’t a pizza in sight on the menu. The rest of the menu consisted of steak, chicken, burgers and salads. I’m not sure if I find this slightly strange being an Italian restaurant (as I suspect Jamie makes a very good pizza!) however I can only assume this is Jamie’s attempt to separate his chain from the competition.

If you’re interested in reading the menu available at Jamie’s Italian Nottingham, you can click here to read it online.

I may have just made the menu sound like a minefield of options, but it’s really a simple affair and quite mouthwatering to read. After a lot of deliberation I chose the Worlds Best Olives On Ice to start and Black Angel Spaghetti for mains.

Worlds Best Olives On Ice

Worlds Best Olives On Ice – served with black olive tapenade and crispy music bread

Calling a dish the ‘worlds best’ is quite a claim. Whilst I was impressed with the presentation of this dish, it must be said straight off that these weren’t the worlds best olives. A big olive eater, I was disappointed here, except with the presentation which was great! The black olive tapenade was yummy, as well as the strangely named ‘crispy music bread’, however there wasn’t enough bread compared to the amount of tapenade. With some olives that live up to the title and a bit more music bread, this dish would be a real winner. Having said that, I did really enjoy it, especially for only £3.75

Black Angel Spaghetti

Black Angel Spaghetti – served with British scallops, garlic, chilli, anchovies, wine, parsley and capers

The Black Angel Spaghetti was served with British scallops, garlic, chilli, anchovies, wine, parsley and capers. Again, very tasty and a much enjoyed dish after I figured out how to eat it without a knife (I found a fork and spoon a difficult combination), but as usual I felt a few small tweaks would have sent it to another level. Personally I was disappointed with the amount of scallop, a little more would have been nice, as well as slightly more anchovies. Tasty and delicious describes this dish well, but being such a simple pasta dish I was hoping for more of a flavour punch, not every mouthful was consistent.

After a promising start, service had been quite slow so we skipped pud and ordered some coffee. This too took a while to arrive and was somewhat rushed down before leaving to go and enjoy the delights of Michael McIntyre at the Nottingham Capital FM Arena just down the road.

I’d definitely go to Jamie’s again to sample more of the menu, I’d say it’s priced slightly above its competition but justifies this price in its more unique menu. It’s so much more than just pizza and pasta and all our food was delicious so we couldn’t really complain apart from the slow service. Jamie, with your high standards I expected more however I am looking forward to visiting again.

Having said this and having eaten at a lot of the usual Italian restaurants, I’m still waiting to visit one that really surprises/impresses me. Does anyone know of any that might achieve this? London/Surrey/Nottingham/Derby areas please!

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