A couple of weeks back my mum Vicky and I headed for a little retail therapy followed by a bite to eat at Westfield, Stratford. Now I'm not usually one for 'chain' restaurants, however my mum had recently eaten at Jamie's Italian with my brother during a frenzied Christmas shopping session, and was quite impressed so I thought, why not.
To start off we ordered the self proclaimed 'World's Best Olives' which were large, juicy green Italian ones, and were lovely and full of flavour. I wouldn't say they were the world's best, nor the best I've tried but I am biased and think nothing can beat a Kalamata olive. Along with the olives came a tasty tapenade and some fried crisps which are called 'music bread' here - all perfectly adequate and well worth the £3.75 price tag.
We also tried the Pumpkin & Mozzarella Nachos, which were in fact, just little squares of the two combined, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, served with an arrabiata sauce. These were a little bland alone, but improved slightly with the sauce - I probably wouldn't choose them again but they were perfectly edible.
Finally as part of our antipasti we chose the Italian bread selection with some oil and balsamic vinegar. There were several different types of sliced bread in the little tin that this arrived in, all of which were good, but special mention must go to the rosemary foccacia which was like a little piece of heaven. Perfect soft in the middle, flavoured throughout with the rosemary and with a slightly crisp exterior and some sea salt for that added texture - perfection.
For our main course we both selected a dish from the pasta menu. I actually had what my mum had enjoyed so much on her previous visit - the Seafood Bucatini. Or in other words, a selection of expertly flavoured seafood including clams, mussels, squid, scallops and crab combined with a thick spaghetti pasta and with the addition of chilli, garlic, some chopped tomatoes and a little white wine, all cooked together in a bag. This really was top notch, I'd say it is certainly the best dish I've had from any chain restaurant before. The basic sauce just proves that actually simplicity and real expert flavouring is everything with Italian cookery. My mum has already re-created this dish at home as she enjoyed it so much when she visited and I will be following suit too.
This time around, my mum opted for the Black Angel Spaghetti - squid ink pasta, coupled with scallops, capers, wine, garlic and chilli plus anchovies. Again this was a great dish - perfectly seasoned, good quality scallops and no complaints at all.
I also insisted on trying the Polenta Chips as they sounded so appealing on the menu. These were tasty, but probably a little too much with the starters we'd had and alongside pasta.
We washed the meal down with a white wine I'd never tried before but will be looking into purchasing for home consumption - a Trebbiano Garganego Del Veneto. A crisp, yet ever so light and refreshing wine that perfectly complemented the food and priced at only £15.95 I thought this was a bargain.
Service was good throughout the meal, although once the restaurant became quite busy, it did become a little slow, but the waiter who looked after us was knowledgeable and friendly and we weren't in any rush so this was good for us.
I was impressed overall with the meal and the venue which also includes a little deli style shop and was even more impressed when the bill arrived. We'd enjoyed two large and enjoyable courses plus wine and there was change from £50 which I really don't think you can grumble at. I would definitely eat there again and if you do go then do try the Seafood Bucatini, it really is a lovely dish. And do please share your thoughts if you have had a similarly good or otherwise experience at Jamie's Italian.