It’s not often that I’m in country, and it’s also not often that I get chance to have a much needed weekend off so I can catch up with everyone who works a Monday to Friday job. One person who I miss dearly as I very rarely get to see her, is my Mum. Grasping an opportunity of a rare Sunday off together, I decided to take her out for dinner at a place where we had both never eaten; Jamie’s Italian in Manchester. Situated at the bottom of Hotel Gotham on King Street, the site is a former bank with beautiful huge windows, exceptionally high ceilings and still features the original vault downstairs.
The restaurant itself is split into a bar area, which not only holds bottles of wines but a huge selection of cured meats, before splitting into the dining area with an upstairs mezzanine. During the day the bar area reminds me slightly of a school canteen with rickety wooden table and a stand of Jamie’s Italian merchandise. Taking time to have a pre-dinner drink, it gave the perfect opportunity to take in the beauty of the interior of the building. Manchester really does have some of the most incredible architecture, and the King Street building is one of top five commercial buildings to be built in Manchester. Previously home to the Midland Bank, designer Luytens has created a majestically stunning building, that would’t be out of place on the streets of New York.
Moving into the dining area, we were seated downstairs rather than on the mezzanine level, which has a more comfortable and cosy atmosphere. I do like to people watch and it was nice to see other Mother and Daughter duos coming in for nibbles and a glass of prosecco. The waiting staff were attentive, and kept check of the table even with a busy turnover, and although the time between courses could have been reduced, it was nice to be able to sit back and have some much needed catching up.
Having never been to Jamie’s Italian before, I was really looking forward to my meal and having previously browsed the menu, I had a fairly clear idea in my head as to what I wanted. Starting with Jamie’s famous planks, we shared the classic meat plank at £6.95 per person. A selection of meats and cheese including Fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata piccante, with mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino & chilli jam, pickles, olives and purple slaw. Personally, for nearly £14 for two of us to share the plank, I don’t think it was a great value for money and although the meats and cheeses were delicious, I think there could have been a bit more to it. That being said, I have never had buffalo mozzarella like the one I had at Jamie’s. It was like cream in the middle; unbelievably melt in the mouth with a soft, smooth flavour.
Going to a restaurant usually means that I will have a steak and being a creature of habit means that I don’t try anything new these days. It’s very rare that I would choose a pasta main dish, but stepping outside of the norm led to me choosing the Jamie’s Italian Famous Prawn Linguine. Available in two sizes, I went for the larger after asking the advice from the waiter, who insisted it wasn’t a huge bowl. If you can’t hack a large amount of pasta, the smaller bowl will be enough. I couldn’t even finish all of mine, and this girl likes to eat. A vast amount of buttery linguine in a sea of tomato, fennel, saffron and chilli with a substantial amount of garlicky prawns and langoustine tails topped with fresh rocket. I was overfaced with the amount but I made a good dent into it, but the carb coma soon caught up with me. The pasta was quite stodgy in the centre and tasted slightly waterlogged but the spicy tomato sauce offset this with its delightful chilli kick and light consistency, whilst the seafood was juicy without being overpowering.
I’ve always said that there is a special compartment in your stomach and no matter how full you are, there is always room for dessert. The Epic Chocolate Brownie certainly was epic with a generous serving of brownie covered in salted caramel ice cream and caramelised popcorn. I do have a sweet tooth, and this rounded up the meal beautifully. The brownie was perfectly done; crispy chocolate on the outside that melted into a gooey centre, whilst the salted caramel ice cream was mouthwatering. The popcorn tasted slightly stale but we can forgive that as the brownie was so delicious.
For my first visit to Jamie’s Italian, I was relatively pleased with both the service and the food. I do think it’s expensive for what you get which is the only thing that would put me off from going back especially when compared with other food establishments I’ve eaten in recently. Overall, my bill for the two of us including one soft drink each and a bottle of water, with a sharing starter, a main course and a dessert each came to £75 which to me, is an awful lot to spend on a Sunday afternoon. The food was good, but was quite a way away from being of exceptional taste, however I do feel that as a chain restaurant, it does lack the authenticity of going to an independent Italian restaurant. The waiting on staff couldn’t have been anymore helpful, and that alone gives me good reason to revisit, as well as experience the beauty that the restaurant is set in.
* I was provided with a gift card to review the menu at Jamie’s Italian. All opinions are my own.