Although I love Italian food and though they have been around since 2008, surprisingly this was my first visit to a branch of Jamie’s Italian. I visited the St Albans restaurant just before Christmas for a festive meet up with my brother. We wouldn’t be seeing each other on Christmas day itself; with Adam being a chef we haven’t been able to have Christmas lunch together in a few years. So we wanted to have a bit of a treat when we met up for the day and as we both love Italian food, the fixed price menu at St Albans branch, which opened in 2012, was a perfect fit.
I was pleasantly surprised when Adam said he was treating me to lunch, but didn’t turn it down! We decided to opt for the fixed price menu where you had a starter and a main course for £15 each. It didn’t include a drink but, the food alone looks like it should be worth much more when you see it. My first thoughts when looking over the menu and the dishes whizzing around the restaurant floor was how similar many of them looked to the food Hana and I had eaten and seen in Rome back in October.
Both Adam and I were also really impressed with the look and feel of the restaurant. Running down the side of the restaurant is the open kitchen and counter where they have hung really delicious looking italian meats, hams and onions.
After starting with a beer for Adam and a glass of wine for me, we ordered and ended both ordering the same starter, the Roasted Squash and Ricotta Bruschetta – which consisted of a garlic sourdough bread toasted and then topped with diced squash with lemon ricotta, a squash puree and sage and beetroot crisps.
The crisps were amazing, they dissolved on the tongue leaving a wonderful flavour with you. I thought the squash puree and roasted squash was beautiful and was perfectly complemented by lemon ricotta.
On to the main course and it was Jamie’s Italians take on a dish I really love and have had time and time again, Seafood Bucatini. If you have followed me for a while you’ll know one of my favourite meals I have eaten was a seafood pasta in Greece back in the summer of 2012. I guess I was worried that I would be holding this up as a comparison. Pushing my Greek favourite aside, I delved in and gave it a try.
I was not disappointed. The bucatini was perfectly coated in a silky sauce, though not drowning in it as you find at many places. It felt very much like a dish I could have ordered and eaten in Rome. And I was really happy to have it. The Seafood bucatini was a spiced tomato and white wine sauce with mussels, crab and squid, delish.
I washed it all down with a glass of the Sicilian Rosato, its crisp light flavour really worked well with the stronger seafood and chilli.
Over all I think for a chain restaurant the quality of food was fantastic and we were both blown away by the presentation of the starter, not bad praise coming from Adam who is a professional chef!
Text and photos By Russell Bowes