This weekend I was kindly invited by the good folk at Jamie’s Italian in Manchester to review some of their delicious dishes. I must say, despite absolutely loving a good meal out, I never tend to go for Italian. In my head I always just have this opinion that Italian food is a basic tomato base with some type of pasta on – All kinda easy to prepare once you have the basics right. Because pasta is such a common element for meals at home too it always makes me somehow begrudge paying restaurant prices for it! HOWEVER, Jamie’s Italian has pretty much changed my opinion on Italian food completely! It’s so much more than pasta in various shapes and sizes and the menu boasted a great range of dishes. I was pretty impressed there was only one burger on the menu too. It seems where ever you go for food lately it’s burger burger burger, and being quite boring; I often go for a burger. But why would a burger be appealing when there’s so much exciting stuff to have! I love trying new flavours and things, and at Jamie’s Italian I certainly chose a nice selection of things I definitely hadn’t tried before.
The first thing you notice about Jamie’s Italian, Manchester, is the amazing building. As a former bank, the fancy toilets downstairs were all in separate little cells and there was a big VAULT room for private parties and occasions. But what was more impressive is that story about the safe deposit boxes from when the building was taking over, what I’d do to get my mitts on those Joy Division/New Order tapes! When we first got to the restaurant I wasn’t sure if I was meant to say if I was there to review it or not.. So I kind of didn’t say anything and assumed they knew. The waiter was so attentive and nice, to the point where I thought he was really trying to make sure it was going to be a positive review – But when the meal was over he bought us the bill as usual and didn’t have any idea that we were having it complimentary. This was endlessly reassuring that their usual standard of service is AMAZING. He wasn’t constantly coming over asking if our meal was ok (which is always annoying when you have a mouth full of food) but came over at appropriate times asking relevant questions and offering knowledgeable information about the dishes. I don’t think I’ve ever received such brilliant service in a restaurant, which was reflected in the tip we left too (which, for a change, wasn’t a scrawling saying ”Don’t eat yellow snow” on the receipt).
Anyway, never mind that brilliant service, let’s get on to the FOOD. As I said, I have the preconception that all Italian is pasta. Pasta pasta pasta, And actually, it isn’t. Not at all. For my starter I decided to go for the daily special, which was a bruschetta with prosciutto, ricotta and pear. It was really refreshing, although could have done with a touch of seasoning. Never underestimate a sprinkling of black pepper. But alas, it was fresh and delicious. The other starter we had was ‘The World’s Best Olives on Ice’ which came with ‘music bread’ and black tapenade. The music bread was very similar to a poppadom but not with the bitty texture, and the olives themselves were so plump and juicy. I thought the tapenade was a little odd, nice, but odd. It had a taste almost similar to apple to it and wasn’t as rich as tapenade I have tried before, but for a starter this makes sense as you don’t want anything too thick and heavy before your main meal. The presentation was brilliant too, which my bruschetta served on a small wooden tray alongside the olives in a little metal dish.
For mains we both went for something a little different than usual. I opted to have two smaller dishes, just so there was more variety to try, alongside a bowl of polenta chips (is it just me who thinks of placenta when they hear the word polenta? Yeah… OK). The pasta dishes can be ordered either as a smaller dish, or as a large dish, which I always think is a great idea if you’re not sure what to have. The white balls are ‘Jamie’s Must Try Gnudi’ which are ricotta dumplings with sage, lemon and parmesan butter. This was definitely one of those dishes that you order not knowing exactly what you are getting and I am pleased to report they were delicious! Although I’m pleased I went for the smaller dish, as after two they became a little too sickly. But for balls of cheese what could you really expect?! Haha. The buttery sauce was just lovely too, and perfect for those polenta chips to have a sneaky dip in. For the second dish I chose Prawn Linguine, which once again, totally changed my mind about Italian dishes being basic. It was really weird, because with every bite you got a different flavour. The garlic in the prawns was just right – not enough to give you overwhelming garlic breath for hours afterwards, but enough to taste and there was a definite citrus flavour in some parts too, with the chilli only giving a hint of spice in some mouthfuls, but packing a punch in others! It was almost like you were eating 3 dishes in one! The polenta chips were interesting, especially as I wasn’t quite sure what polenta actually was until I googled it. They were a nice cripsyness with a fluffy middle but because of the consistency were really light and not as filling as regular chips. I just wasn’t keen on the larger chunks of chips as the centre was a little more mushy, but alas, still edible and delicious. My partner in dining crime chose the Crispy Soft Shell Crab, which I managed to have a little sneak of, and that was delightfully refreshing too. Not too fishy and had a lovely fresh flavour. The most interesting element of the crab dish was the ‘sea lettuce’ which was curly and crunchy and complimented the smashed avocado & yuzu lime salsa perfectly.
There was certainly no room for desserts after eating the main course and starters, so we decided to wash the meal down with a cappuccino and a latte. The coffee was so gooooooooooood. And it was nice to have a real coffee in an Italian restaurant rather than succumbing to the fancy flavours at Starbucks. The service time, the service standard and the food itself all receive top marks from me. There’s nothing worse than waiting a lengthy time for your food and drinks, but I don’t think we waited any longer than around 15 minutes for anything we ordered. As also mentioned, the waiter knew exactly what he was doing with regards to the menu and service, which is an excellent reflection of any eatery in my opinion! Jamie’s Italian is the type of place you can go and feel comfortable dressed up or down too. It’s a posh enough venue to have a really fancy feeling evening meal, but friendly enough to feel comfortable in more relaxed clothing too.
You will find Jamie’s Italian Manchester on King Street. Once you’re in the area you can’t miss the big white building it’s situated within! Even if you just call in for a swift drink at the bar, it’s worth it just to have a peak at the inside of the restaurant and check out those toilets. Yes, the toilets. I didn’t take many pictures of them, because you know. THEY’RE TOILETS. But it’s a brilliant building with an awesome history. If you can’t make it to the Manchester restaurant or another quite yet, you can view the Jamie’s Italian menu online here. Our entire meal including drinks came to around £53 which is very reasonable when you consider the variety we had and starters.
Thanks for the weekend treat, Jamie! If you liked this post, you might like these too: