Review: Jamie's Italian Exeter

About a year ago Nick and I first experienced Jamie's Italian in Bristol, and fell in love with it.  Ever since we have always wished there was one a little closer, I even tweeted Jamie Oliver himself to recommend he opens a restaurant in Exeter- and here it is!  In June 2008 Jamie launched Jamie's Italian, his first high-street business venture, in Oxford. The menu is devised with his close friend and fellow chef Gennaro Contaldo and as soon as news broke of the new restaurant opening in my home town I was over the moon!

When we arrived we were greeted by friendly staff and shown to our table upstairs. The restaurant has been decorated really well (in keeping with the other Jamie's Italian's we've visited) and there is a big open kitchen, typical Jamie Oliver! There is also a wide selection of products available to buy, and lots of meats hanging from the wall.  As it was so busy we didn't see much of downstairs, so I've used some pictures from my friends at Eating Exeter's review to show some of the features (read their review in full here)

The menu has been developed with Gennaro to represent authentic, rustic Italian cuisine with a Jamie Oliver twist, and this really shines through.  Some of the bread and nibbles include: Crispy Music Bread (with slices of pecorino sardo & little dots of chilli jam mostarda) and Pork Scratchings (with spiced fennel salt & orchard dipping sauce), The ‘Bruschetta and Antipasta’ returns to its Italian side with such things as Tuscan Style Chicken Liver Bruschetta (smooth Italian paté with pancetta, vin santo & Parmesan) and Sicilian Caponata Bruschetta (spiced aubergine, hard ricotta & pine nuts).  For the first time in a really long time I have looked at the menu and genuinely didn't know what to pick!

Considering that the restaurant only opened 4 days prior to our visit it was absolutely packed.  There was barely an empty table in the entire place!  We were served promptly and after much deliberation placed out order.  The waiter was really chirpy and took our requests without having to write anything down!  We selected a starter each but also couldn't resist a selection of Italian breads.  My starter and the breads arrived really quickly but Nick's order was nowhere to be seen.  We waiting 10 mins and after asking 3 members of staff his order arrived, and mine was nearly cold!  I can only put this down to teething problems, but it would have been nice if any of the staff we asked gave us a n update or told us it was on the way.

We ordered Classic homemade rosemary focaccia, ciabatta, seeded crackerbread, sourdough, & grissini sticks. Served with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic & fantastic olive tapenade. The balsamic vinegar and olive oil was poured out by our waiter.This was a fab selection and each bread was fresh and delicious, as well as a little different from the normal.

There was one thing on the menu that really stood out to me - Italian Nachos. Crispy fried ravioli stuffed with three cheeses, served with arrabbiata & Parmesan. I cannot even put into words how delicious this was! Crispy ravioli with the cheesy filling- to die for! Because there was a delay with Nicks starter I did try and wait until his arrived before demolishing mine, but I just couldn't wait!

Nick, of course, went for crispy squid with crushed garlic mayo, chopped chilli & lemon.  He said that it was cooked perfectly and he enjoyed the variety the different shapes and sizes, some whole baby squid, squid rings and tentacles. They were all cooked to perfection!
I really wanted to have the same meal that I had the last time I visited Jamie's, but consciously chose something different. Chicken al monte - free-range marinated chicken with a creamy wild mushroom sauce, lemony rocket, crostini & Parmesan.  It was delicious! I really enjoyed it, my only criticism would be there there was so much green on top that you can't see how good it looks!  The chicken had a really nice flavour and was really succulent, complemented perfectly with the mushroom sauce.

This picture doesn't really do Nicks steak justice! Their prime British steak is dry-aged for better flavour & tenderness, cooked to your liking & served with proper hand-cut & triple-cooked chips & roasted lemony portobello mushrooms.  The steak was cooked perfectly, succulent, juicy and full of flavour. Sadly we didn't rate the chips served with it as they were soft and a little bland.  If everything else hadn't been so amazing the chips would probably have been acceptable!

I ordered some polenta chips sprinkled with rosemary & parmisan
 to go with my meal and they were perfect!  Once you try them, you will find it hard to go back to normal potato based chips!

Overall we both really enjoyed our meal.  Apart from Nick not getting his starter at first the service was great, atmosphere was buzzing and the food delicious.  It was almost hard to believe that the restaurant only opened a few days earlier, and it is obviously how popular it is already! I can't wait to go back there again, it has taken the crown from Cote as the best food in Exeter!

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

(service only 4 stars due to the delay)
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