One New Ludgate (Old Bailey)
London EC4M 7HX
Review date: Friday 30th October 2015
Just down the road from the Old Bailey are some arresting new sites. There’s brand new colourful looking office blocks being built and a couple of shiny new sparkling restaurants that brighten up the austere and serious setting of Old Bailey, most renowned of course for being home to the Central Criminal Court, the most famous court in the land.
Jamie Oliver’s newest restaurant, a branch of Jamie’s Italian, certainly made for an arresting and welcoming site, with its huge size, colour and glass frontage. I couldn’t resist going in to see how the food and decor was. It would have been criminal not to and we can’t have that can we?
This was my first visit to a Jamie Oliver restaurant (this is his 46th in Britain) and first of all I was immediately struck by the friendliness and warmth of the staff who greeted and escorted me to my table. The restaurant was not due to open until 2nd November 2015, so this was something of an exclusive sitting. I spotted around 20+ staff there, all present to undergo rigorous staff training to ensure they were ready for the big opening week and meet the exacting standards required of all who work for Jamie Oliver.
For starters, I enjoyed the ‘Spicy meatball bruschetta’. This comprised free-range pork & fennel meatballs in a fiery ‘nduja tomato sauce with lemony rocket & parmesan. The meatballs had an absolutely delicious flavour and taste that made for a great first taste of Jamie Oliver food. The accompanying bread upon which the meatballs were presented was extremely appetising too. The speed of service, at less than seven minutes, was impressively quick.
This created high expectations for the main meal. I ordered the Turkey Milanese which was free-range turkey stuffed with proscetto, provolone, breadcrummed and topped with a free range egg and black truffle.
Sadly it failed to live up to expectations and I just didn’t like it. The turkey was far too thin and a bit over cooked. The edges were too hard and dry and it was just too big – dominating the whole of the plate. It had far too much breaded coating for my taste. The addition of parmesan cheese on top (my bad choice) probably didn’t help either, giving it an overall salty taste that left a bitter sensation in the mouth afterwards. The bacon and cheese inside it was very nice and the best part of it was actually the egg and black truffle which was simply divine. The flavours and taste it left in the mouth were something else. I have to say I’ve never tasted an egg quite like it before.
I had a side of polenta chips with this, which I didn’t really enjoy at all.
My colleague ordered the Chicken Cacciatore, titled as ‘Jamie’s Favourite,’ with funky chips and fared much better. This main meal included a free-range chicken and seasonal vegetables in a rich tomato and Chianti sauce, with black olives, rocket, parmesan, pine nuts and garlicky ciabbatta. It was lovely, soft and cooked just right. The chips were a delicious side dish to accompany this main dish.
For dessert I really enjoyed the amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake velvety mascarpone & lemon cheesecake topped with Italian meringue, served with lemon curd and blackcurrants. Naturally I’ve tasted cheesecake but this seriously exceeded all expectations. It was sweet, filling and absolutely delicious. Stuff calorie control. This was one of the tastiest, most sumptuous desserts I’ve ever eaten. The cream and lemon were lovely, but the centre filling was, as Tina Turner might say, simply the best.
My colleague ordered the apple and blackberry Pavlova. This is described as a gooey meringue with whipped mascarpone, limoncello-soaked blackberries, apple compote and spiced crumble. It was a very traditional Pavlova and tasted as gorgeous as expected. The crumble sprinkled around it was a joy in terms of both taste and texture.
Aside from the Turkey Milanese main course I had everything was exceptionally pleasant. The total for two came to £44.30, with drinks added on making a total of £56.80.
It was interesting to note that Jamie’s Italian have added their own sugar tax (10p) on soft drinks containing added sugar as part of the Jamie Oliver Group’s drive to tackle obesity and poor diet. Money raised from this will be given to the Children’s Health Fund.
I support this idea as I too believe passionately that prevention is better than cure and this initiative could really help with tackling the obesity, type II diabetes and overall public health crisis the NHS is facing.
The decor was very good, with an open kitchen, so that if minded to you can observe the chefs at work. The music, ambience and service from the staff was all very good. The staff were attentive, welcoming and chatty when required and genuinely seemed interested in our experience of the food, both the good and less enjoyable experiences! The music was of the pleasant background variety, not so loud or imposing that it disturbed the conversation and dining experience.
Overall I really enjoyed my first experience of a Jamie Oliver restaurant. Considering the location of this new restaurant it would be, if you pardon the big pun, criminal not to check it out.
Meal for two:
- Spicy meatball bruschetta – £5.95
- Chicken cacciatore – £13.95
- Turkey Milanese – £13.50
- Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake – £5.45
- Apple and blackberry pavlova – £5.45
- Fresh apple juice – £2.95
- Mineral water (330ml) – £2.00
- Rosatta wine (250ml) £7.55
Review & photographs © Tiemo Talk of the Town
Jamie’s Italian – St Paul’s is open Sunday – Monday’s 11am-11pm Bookings & Information 0203-829 1119