Jamie's Italian - Stratford Westfield: Review
I made a reservation at Jamie's Italian Stratford on the 14th June and as I was about to find out - was also the day of England's first World Cup game.
My football passionate fiance (who's also named Jamie) was full of superstition that if we swapped our fish 'n' chips for an Italian cabonara, it would somehow effect 'our boys' performance.
"They're halfway across the world in Brazil. I'm sure Wayne Rooney doesn't care for our lunchtime plans!" I tried to rationalise. Boy logic huh?!
...I also learned that the prospect of a lunchtime Tiramisu works well in effortlessly changing his mind!
Jamie's Italian at Stratford's Westfield is situated just outside the shopping centre by John Lewis.
On entering the restaurant your eyes are immediately drawn to the open plan kitchen area that is visible to diners - adding to it's Southern European charm.
Amongst the hanging hams ensued well-organised chaos, perhaps reminiscent of an Italian family's busy kitchen with everyone mucking in to prepare our Mediterranean feast.
Fortunately this bustle didn't translate into the dining area, which makes conversation amongst parties easier whilst still informal. Further affirmed by the free for all approach of the menu's share platters.
The use of the space was another major positive. I dislike being sat in a busy restaurant (particularly on a table for two) with other diners claustrophobically within arms length. Jamie's Italian Stratford is spread across two floors. Idyllic for piled up shoppers alike, who are accommodated comfortably. Handy when considering the location.
The decor; high ceilings, wooden floor and grey beams was a touch industrial for my personal tastes but works well within the building it is housed. I did love the huge windows which offer the perfect vantage point to watch the world go by over a glass of prosecco.
To start we decided a sharer was the best way to sample the selection of the cured meats, cheese and olives on offer.
This arrived on an impressive wooden plank, simply but effectively held above the table by two tins of tomatoes. As someone with a usual vendetta against olives I found these surprisingly palatable.
I also distracted my Jamie whilst greedily helping myself to a lionshare of the melt-in-your-mouth meat. 1-nill to me!
We also ordered a selection of artisan breads mopped up with a balsamic and olive oil dressing. A flavour marriage made in heaven and something I'll definitely try to replicate at home.
I ummed and arred over my main with many options to chose from - not a bad thing as everyones palate's are accommodated.
As I'm not a massive pasta lover, I opted for the flash steak. The pounded prosciutto and sage worked beautifully and I especially enjoyed the garlicky salsa - my first time sampling yellow tomatoes!
I ordered a side of posh chips; cooked with truffle oil with a mild shaving of parmesan.
I liked the fact sides were separate, making your meal customisable. Possibly a little dangerous for chip lovers without willpower like me, but hey! - I won't tell my gym instructor if you don't!?
Jamie went for the day's special - a slow cooked lamb and veggie dish, finished with homemade pasta and a side of seasonal greens which he enthusiastically gobbled within minutes.
Had I not eaten at a Jamie's Italian previously I'd be skeptical that staff knew I was there to review but seeing as the attentive service received was no different to my previous visits to the chain, I say it's simply down to the hiring of well trained, personable people.
We were waited on well, but never stifled.
Dishes were explained to us without prompt, an aspect I particularly liked as I often feel awkward when asking about unknown dishes or struggle with pronunciation. But this is exactly what we love about Jamie Oliver, his no nonsense layman's approach in making good food accessible to all which evidently resonates within his restaurants.
I highly recommend a visit to the Jamie's Italian Stratford, especially if you're laden with bags and want a break from the hustle and bustle of the noisy shopping complex with its generic food haunts. Or perhaps ending your day at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Park with an Olympic Italian feast.
...and as for that football result? Perhaps Mr Rooney does care about our lunchtime plans after all!
158 The Street