Bless my friends who support my food obsessions! It was my second last day in London and my friend Fran insisted that I couldn't leave London without eating at one of Jamie Oliver restaurants. And of course I agreed. So off we went to Jamie's Italian Covent Garden for a late lunch and a final shopping spree before I had to bid farewell to London town.
The restaurant was buzzing even at 2pm on a Tuesday; the majority of diners were tourists, which was obvious from the number of iPhone photos that were being snapped left, right and center. So of course I joined the party!
The most prominent design feature is the big open charcuterie bar. And then there are shelves loaded with all the Jamie Oliver paraphernalia you could ever imagine from books to serving wear to retro cloth napkins used at the restaurant. The general design theme is industrial but it does capture the vibe of a busy Italian trattoria.
We ordered a starter and a side to share.
The crispy Arancini of stuffed risotto rice balls with sweet red chillies, mozzarella, spicy arrabbiata sauce and Parmesan (£5.25) was delicious. The shell was super crispy and the inside was warm, gooey and intensely flavoursome.
The polenta chips with rosemary salt and Parmesan were (£3.65) just perfect. Crispy, delicious and cheesy; the perfect indulgent side dish.
My main of sausage pappardelle of ragù of braised fennel sausage with red wine, Parmesan and crunchy, herby breadcrumbs (£11.55 for main size) was rather disappointing. There was hardly any sausage in amongst all the pasta and the sauce was quite thin and watery. I didn't even take a close up photo of the dish as it literally just looked like a pile of pasta swimming in a tomato broth.
Fran had the turkey Milanese of turkey stuffed with prosciutto and fontal cheese, with a fried free-range egg and truffles. Even though I thought this was an odd combination of things Fran enjoyed it.
We skipped dessert in favour of shopping and I of course couldn't leave without a token purchase of a packet of Jamie Oliver napkins. Yes, I do realise I am the target suckers for all the tempting paraphernalia bursting out of the restaurant but what can I say, I have a soft spot for Jamie!
So the verdict: Yes, it was true; I couldn't leave London without having tried a Jamie Oliver restaurant. Unfortunately I wasn't blown away by the experience but it was an experience nonetheless and quite a reasonably priced one at that so I'm glad to have ticked this off the list.