Although Birmingham boasts an exciting culinary scene, it is also sadly brimming with chain restaurants. But any dining establishment attached to the celebrated Jamie Oliver should have something extra to offer patrons…
[by Sanjeeta Bains]
As I came in gloved and scarfed up against the November cold, the cosy rustic feel of the low-lit bar area charmed me. If only there had been a few fairy lights I’d have been ready for mulled wine! But looking around, this gigantic restaurant could feel somewhat uncosy. According to Jamie’s blurb on the restaurant website, the venue was designed to reflect the city’s industrial heritage. With metal chairs and strong use of steel, the restaurant certainly succeeds in fulfilling this strange ‘factory vision’
We started with what is described on the menu as ‘the world’s best olives on ice.’ Personally, I would dread to think what the world’s worst olives on ice would taste like. I found them tasteless. My guest, on the other hand, enjoyed their super freshness. When it came to his main he chose wild rabbit tagliolini. This slow-cooked ragù with garlic & herbs, mascarpone & lemon was pleasant but could have been more flavourful, although the lemon did add a welcome zing.
I fared much better by choosing one of the specials of the day. Slow braised British lamb breast with mint, chilli and sticky balsamic, served with pickled green beans and radish salad, tasted as fabulous as it initially sounded. This dish was packed with flavour and the lamb was just the right side of fatty.
As a side, I tucked into polenta chips, which were nice and satisfying but could have done with a sauce to accompany them. Sour cherry bakewell –tart berries, sweet almond filling and served with clementine-rippled sour cream was a truly lovely dessert.
As an aperitivo, we of course enjoyed a glass of jamie’s light and dry prosecco. The hearty chianti poggo tempesta was perfect for my lamb, cutting through the richness of the meat while the montepulciano d’abruzzo complemented the rabbit tagliolini without overpowering it.
Afterwards for our digestivo, we indulged in delicious and potent limoncello. Barman Giuseppe (nicknamed Pinot), who helped us choose drinks to match our dishes, is from the area where limoncello is made. While we enjoyed our nectar of the gods, he regaled us with a delightful story of its painstaking creation.
The average starter comes in at around £4, while the average main is around £12.
I wouldn’t think of going to Jamie’s Italian for a special occasion. But after a long, hard day of shopping in the Bullring, or an evening of drinking in the city, it might just tick the box at push. The service was super-friendly and efficient even if the food was lacklustre. As well as being reassuringly Italian, our waiter was incredibly knowledgeable. If only he could be cloned to wait on every table!
- Category Italian, Mediterranean
- Location Birmingham City Centre