Confession time… when I was about 18 I had a HUGE crush on Jamie Oliver, I even had a Naked Chef calendar, yes really! So when I heard the cheeky chappy was coming to Newcastle last year I got a little bit giddy, turns out it wasn’t the man himself but one of his chain restaurants opening in Monument Mall, hmmm, not quite so exciting!
Despite hearing rave reviews about the food, drinks and decor at Jamie’s Italian it’s taken me over a year to visit, something I’m now kicking myself for, I’ve really been missing out!
Jamie Oliver might not be in the kitchen but his influence can be seen everywhere. From the funky furniture and rustic presentation of the dishes to the soulful background music. Even the staff seemed to have adopted his cheerful and enthusiastic personality.
So far, so good, but what about the food? Well, I went along my other half James and one of my best friends Gemma, all three of us were starving so we ordered a sharing plank of Antipasti along with the ‘World’s Best Olives on Ice’ to begin with. The olives surprisingly lived up to their confident claim, I’m not quite sure why they were served on ice but they were sweet, plump and juicy, I just wish there’d been a few more of them!
I’m glad we ordered Antipasti, it’s such a sociable starter and gave us the chance to have a good old chin wag while trying the different meats and cheeses which were all delicious, I particularly loved the Manchego with chilli jam.
We enjoyed the starter with some refreshing cocktails, throughout the evening I tried a Florence Fizz, a Bramble and Jamie’s Mojito, they were all excellent and certainly put me in the mood for a night out on the Toon. Especially as we had a lovely view of Grey Street from the window by our table where we could people watch on all the revellers outside.
So, on to the main courses…
I ordered Lamb Chops Scottaditta, ‘grilled under a brick served with with a herby red onion salad, toasted nuts, yoghurt for dunking & polenta chips’. Like the Antipasti this was also served on a plank, making it a bit tricky to eat. It all got a but messy, especially as I couldn’t resist picking up the chops with my hands but something tells Jamie wouldn’t have minded!
The meat was perfectly tender and juicy, I’m not sure what the chops had been marinated in but the flavour was deliciously zesty, I devoured every last mouth full. I wasn’t won over by the polenta chips though, they were a bit claggy in my opinion and I would have much preferred some vegetables or salad.
James went for a sea bass dish from the specials board and Gemma chose the 10oz Bone in Rib Steak. The fish looked like a lighter option compared to mine and Gemma’s dishes and I think James might have had a bit of food envy but he did say it was very tasty and he was impressed with the presentation. Gemma’s steak had been dry-aged for better flavour & tenderness and it was served with proper hand-cut, triple-cooked chips & roasted portobello mushroom. I stole a few chips and they were SO good, I offered her a swap for my polenta chips but she was having none of it!
We decided against desserts, opting to save room for more drinks instead (it was a Saturday night after all!) but we did end our meal in the traditional Italian way, with an after-dinner digestivo of Limoncello served in a chilled glass. This was complimentary thanks to my membership of Jamie’s Italian Gold Club. It’s free to join and gives members loads of perks and freebies so make sure you sign up and get treated like a VIP.
It may have taken me a while to discover what a great addition Jamie’s Italian is to Newcastle’s dining scene but now that I have I’ll certainly be back!