Review: Jamie's Italian

I have to say that Jamie Oliver is one of my favourite celebrity chefs. He is so passionate about what he does, and creates good honest food. Every one of his recipes that I have followed has always turned out perfectly! When we got the opportunity to eat at one of his Italian restaurants, although it is more of a chain, I was very excited.

In June 2008 Jamie launched Jamie's Italian, his first high-street business venture, in Oxford. Jamie's Italian has proved successful and there are now 35 restaurants in the chain. He also launched his "Gold Card" scheme, this means that members get great perks, such as free drinks, or money off and special tasters each time you visit. Even though the nearest restaurant is an hour and a half away from me, I still got myself one!

When we arrived we were shown to our table by friendly staff in a rustic setting. It was big and open plan and we were near the big open kitchen. I love being able to see the chefs and smell all the delicious food being cooked! We were brought a round of Rossini, a berry purée topped with prosecco (I drank Nick's and ended up ordering 2 more after that!) We were also brought a little taster of a meatball on a crunchy spoon. This was delicious, tender and flavoursome, so much so that Nick asked if meatballs were available on the main menu, sadly they weren't.

True to form, Nick went for the crispy squid to start. Fried squid with a freshly made garlicky mayo, lemon & chilli. He absolutely loved it; "phenomenal" he said. The batter was extremely light and crispy, the squid cooked perfectly and you could tell how fresh the squid was, and that it was made fresh in house. The chilli gave it a really unique kick and bite, they were very fiery.

I had baked chestnut mushrooms, with smoked mozzarella, thyme & crispy "music bread" - a yeast free bread called 'carta di music' in Italian, meaning music sheet, in reference to its large and paper-thin shape. This was incredible, the mozzarella had a gorgeous smoky flavour that went so well with the mushrooms. It was flavoursome, juicy, and the music bread crispy and delicious, a great dish that I want to try and recreate again at home!

Nick went for a daily special for his main of fennel sausage from Jamie's mate Jimmy Doherty, with freshly made spaghetti and crunchy herbs. He said that it was really nice, but had a very strong fennel flavour throughout.  The spaghetti was really fresh and made a real difference to the dish.

I went with a Turkey Milanese, butterflied turkey breast stuffed with prosciutto & fontina, with a fried free-range egg & truffles. This was just incredible, turkey can so often be dry and flavourless but this was completely the opposite.  So full of flavour and went so well with a perfectly fried egg as well as the truffles. I have never had truffles before, and never understood the fuss until I tried them, they really brought something to the dish. I loved this dish, I let Nick try some and even though he says he bormally doesn't really like turkey, I know he had food envy!

We ordered some chips to go with our mains, as they sounded too good to refuse! Crispy fried pollenta chips with rosemary salt & parmesan and posh chips with truffle oil & parmesan. The polenta chips were absolutely divine, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle and perfectly seasoned, we loved it and I am under orders to try to make them when we get home! The posh chips were crispy and thick, and the parmesan really finished them off!

This really was a great meal, so much so that we agreed that we would happily take the drive down here again to eat, and that is saying something! Find your nearest one online

Food ***** Atmosphere ***** Service *****

L x

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