Newest Review: ... bowl of pasta or a signature seafood dish. Trade keeps up all day and all night and we have frequently been placed on the list for a t... more
Jamie Oliver, where have you been all my life?!
Jamie's Italian (Canary Wharf)
Member Name: discoslam
Jamie's Italian (Canary Wharf)
Advantages: Friendly, lively, the food cannot be beat for the price
Disadvantages: Waiting times, atmosphere could be interpreted as "overpowering"
When I first heard that Jamie Oliver was opening a restaurant in the middle of one of the largest financial centres in the world, call me cynical but alarm bells started to ring. In my mind Jamie Oliver is one of these new chefs who have started to sell out and make a quick buck, and there is a lot of money to be made with high-street eating at the moment.
I am pleased to say that Jamie's Italian is a stand-alone, great restaurant and the news that the chain is expanding thrills me because more and more people can try them out (Canary Wharf is a little bit "back of beyond, even for Londoners).
As you may imagine, the restaurant is packed out at lunchtime, full of City Boys discussing how much money they have lost over a nice bowl of pasta or a signature seafood dish. Trade keeps up all day and all night and we have frequently been placed on the list for a table. The waiting area is a bit small and the "overflow" is a terrace, which isn't great on cold nights, in a part of London so windy I have seen a man's dog blown off the ground.
The hype is pulled through with the design of the menu and restaurant: everything is "Jamie-fied", modern, quirky, pink-paint-on-brown-wood kind of look. You are seated on green chairs that look like they belong on a B&Q patio display. Even the loos are over the top; I think the urinals resemble on-armed bandits.
Bear with it though! This quirkyness slowly makes sense. Once seated, down to earth details start to show themselves, such as the tea towel-style napkins, scrubbed steel pots growing rosemary and cans of tomato sauce supporting the (incredible) antipasto starter plank.
Food-wise, I may as well recommend the antipasto planks, big enough for four to share, overflowing with freshly carved cured meats (I have seen the chefs labouring away in the starter bar), the freshest fresh Buffalo Mozzarella I have ever tasted, huge olives and delicious pickled chilli. Main courses are faultless; the chefs make good use of nearby Billingsgate Fish Market and the pasta is freshly prepared and spot-on Al Dente. The portions are large; just bear in mind that there are no pizzas on offer which my put off some people. Desserts are wonderful: the chef must be addicted to Brownies as there is usually one on the menu at all times; and it is always gooey, show-stealing and perfectly sweet.
The ample wine/cocktail list and the menu itself changes frequently which annoys my friends but I love: I think it shows the kitchen cares and is innovative. The service is basic but friendly; the staff are really eager to chat and I have never had any issues. There was a fire drill one night I went and the way they dealt with it was very professional (even though most tables drank up and did a runner).
I regard Jamie's Italian to be averagely priced: 3 courses and vino for 2 will set you back about £50.
I must admit, Jamie's Italian surprised me. It is one of the best all-round restaurants in Canary Wharf, and sells itself on seriously good food and a "feel good", lively vibe probably inspired by Mr. Oliver himself.
Maybe his programmes are worth watching after all...
Summary: In my mind, the best high street restaurant of the moment