Jamie Oliver’s New Glasgow Restaurant

23 Oct

View of the outside of Jamie's ItalianI was lucky enough to be treated to dinner at Jamie Oliver’s new Glasgow restaurant.  It’s very new, and everyone was asking me what it was like, so here’s the answer:

First of all, it’s huge.  Cavernous.  It could probably seat 150 people comfortably, and more when they bring out the extra chairs (strange, bright red, school-like things).  The toilet is therefore far, far away (depending on where you are sitting) and down some stairs, across another floor, down a corridor, through a wardrobe… (Ok, I exaggerate.)

The décor is a little weird.  The building, on the south side of George Square, is a lovely 18th century blonde sandstone building, all fine proportions and clean lines, with columns by the door.  The inside is sort of retro-modernist, with exposed pipes, unusual lighting (cool glass pipes) etc.  Both fine on their own, but together?  And then a bit of Italian deli is thrown in for “authenticity”, with random loaves of bread in strange places and the larder outside the kitchen so everyone can see it.  The Italian deli / bistro thing at least goes with the menu, if not with anything else.

The seating is mainly in booths, which means that you can hear the people at your table and not at the next, which is nice.  However, it was very difficult for the staff to serve the people nearer the wall.  The staff were great, by the way – efficient, friendly and plentiful.

But none of that is the point, is it?  The point is, was the food any good?  Yes, it was.  There was a good range of starters, split into “nibbles” and “antipasti” for no very obvious reason.  There were seven of us, so instead of getting individual starters we got a selection and shared.  The whitebait were cold and not battered, which was a bit weird for those of use who were used to them hot and crispy, but they were nicely marinated, and were officially the fishiest fish I have ever tasted.  Olives stuffed with tuna suffered a bit from an excessively thick coating of breadcrumbs, but it was a really good flavour combination.  Stuffed chillis (looking like cherry tomatoes) were excellent – intensely flavoured, and not at all nippy.

Other starters were more miss than hit – the mushroom and cheese bites were unremarkable, and the ravioli “nachos” were just too dry (there’s a reason why they don’t make nachos out of pasta) – but on the whole they were great.

The main courses were enormous, with some options noticably bigger than others when they arrived, although you couldn’t tell from the menu.  The special was a fish soup, which seemed to have every type of seafood you could imagine thrown into it, and was served with amazing sourdough.  My prawn linguini with chilli and garlic was SO good!  Really garlickly, with plenty of firm prawns and just the right amount of chilli.  Fear not, there were options for people who don’t like fish, like carbonara.  The main courses are tilted in favour of fish lovers, however.

The puddings also varied dramatically in portion size.  Not a problem, but it might be nice to have an indication instead of having to guess.  The sorbet was three teeny weeny scoops, while the chocolate brownie and the lemon curd cake were enormous.   I had espresso and ice cream, something I hadn’t had since years ago in Greece.  It was perfect.  The ice cream was sweet enough, the espresso bitter enough, and they gave you the coffee in a tiny jug so you could pour over just as much as you wanted.

Despite not being able to make a reservation, we were in and out in under three hours.  That might be different at a weekend – this was a Tuesday.  The prices were reasonable – better than reasonable considering the portion size of most options.  The menu’s not hugely different from a lot of other Italians, but as Italian restaurants go it’s pretty good, and fairly priced.  I wouldn’t rave about it, but I would recommend trying it out.

And that’s what it was like.

View of the inside of Jamie's Italian


One Response to “Jamie Oliver’s New Glasgow Restaurant”

  1. John Adams October 24, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Really good writeup of a fun evening, Karen. I thought Jamies was great with v friendly and attentive staff. My fish soup was very moreish.

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