Ups: Relaxing and perfectly lit decor creating a warm atmosphere, good table service. Downs: Bar mess ups, food slightly missed the mark.
Jamie’s Italian is, as the name kind of gives away, an Italian restaurant from TV chef and dinner-lady botherer Jamie Oliver. This review follows a visit to the restaurant on George Square, Glasgow.
The place looks great. It was a bustling, smooth machine on our visit. We were escorted to the bar downstairs and told that we’d be called for when our table was free. Shabby-chic rusted metal lights barely lit a low-ceilinged cellar, creating a warm and relaxing atmosphere.
First stop was the bar, which turned out to leave a bad first impression of the place. Despite not being that busy, the bar staff seemed to bypass me and twice served people who arrived after me. Now, this is a pet hate of mine. As someone who worked in a bar for six years, I know it takes no time at all to look up and keep an eye on who’s there, who was next. Or maybe I just wasn’t pretty enough to attract that bar man’s eye.
When I did get served, I asked about the house ale. He told me it was off, no apology. He seemed annoyed that I’d asked. I asked for another drink, but they had also run out of that. Again, no apology. When I did order, I was given one wrong drink (white Pinot Grigio instead of Pinot Grigio Rose Scarpetta) and then the bar man disappeared. He didn’t tell us he was going, he just left. A few minutes later he returned with a glass, took my money and returned the change without a word.
Now, this series of minor hassles was just enough to take the edge off my happy mood. We found a seat, had an unusual encounter with a fairly inebriated woman who told us which table she was heading to and then were greeted by the waitress who had come to seat us. Sweet blessed relief.
The table was set comfortably back in the basement, not too close to other tables. The place felt busy but there was no element of claustrophobia where we were.
For starters, we ordered Artisan Breads (Freshly baked focaccia, ciabatta, seeded crackerbread, sourdough & grissini with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic & tapenade) and Free-Range Pork Scratchings with spiced apple sauce. The breads were fresh and warm with tasty sides. The scratchings were a little bland, under-salted. (In my humble opinion, pork should be loaded with a cardiac-bursting amount of salt. It’s a basic fact of life.)
The table service was a vast improvement on the bar incident. The waiter was affable, pleasant, funny and knowledgeable about the menu. We ordered more drinks and, unfortunately, again received white wine instead of the requested rose. Worse still, my glass of Montepulciano had part of the wine bottle lid floating in the glass. Apologies were profusely offered and a fresh glass brought.
I ordered the 10-oz Dry-Aged Rib-Eye Steak (with grilled portobello mushrooms, gremolata, triple-cooked chips, balsamic onions & baby watercress). Emma ordered the Truffle Oil and Blue Cheese Risotto.
The Risotto, when it eventually arrived, was extremely rich. Emma noted that, instead of filling the plate, the portion would have been better at 2/3rds of the size and with a fresh salad on the side. The Steak looked like a dark, tempting platter and it certainly had it’s high points. The balsamic onions were sharp delight, as were the mushrooms and the triple-cooked chips. The meat was too oily for me. I ended up surreptitiously patting the excess off with a napkin. What a philistine. Once dried, the steak was a joy.
The size of the Risotto and the Steak were such that a dessert was out of the question. This was a shame as the Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake was calling my name, as was the Orange Blossom Polenta Cake.
The bill was fair, and there was enough at Jamie’s Italian to make me look forward to a second visit. I may, however, have to wear a low cut dress next time to get better service from the bar.