Have you ever enjoyed a meal out at a particular restaurant so much, that you’re back within the week? It sounds rather luxurious, the spontaneous whim of a spendthrift. But after visiting on one Friday for a friend’s birthday, I recommended it to my family visiting the next Friday (for a dinner I happily didn’t have to pay for).
I always look forward to other people’s birthdays, and for the excuse to eat out. My friends and I discuss our options with the gravity of politicians before making a rational and well-reasoned decision on location, time, and day. The birthday girl was eager to introduce us Jamie’s Italian, being a big fan herself, and came armed with her shiny Gold Card.
The York restaurant is quite tucked away, to the extent that some aren’t aware of its existence. Outside, there is a pretty al fresco seating area, which I can imagine is lovely in the summer. Inside is stylishly furnished, spread across three floors; although with slightly dim lighting, and limited bar seating, the bathrooms surprised me with their Italian piazza-style tiling, golden taps, and pink toilets.
The menu consists of a range of pasta dishes, grills, salads, and sides, with an extensive starter and dessert list. There’s an impressive range of cocktails, well worth their price, and beer is served in classy glasses. One thing to bear in mind before ordering is that the menu offers small and large portions of pasta dishes, meaning that you can fit in a three course meal without leaving uncomfortably full; or, if you’re a budgeting student, you can feel pleased with yourself for saving a few pounds. And then there’s the Jamie’s Gold card: by signing up for free, you’re entitled to a free bottle of Prosecco or Lambrusco, a complimentary mini-starter, and a discount.
The two visits sufficed to give me a very favourable impression of the restaurant as a whole. Staff are friendly and chatty, service is prompt, and the food is great. I’ll pick a few selections from the dishes my two respective groups ordered over the two evenings.
The starters menu is very diverse, putting a spin on classics: there were pork scratchings with apple sauce; crab and avocado bruschetta; baked chestnut mushrooms; Italian nachos; and olives ‘on ice’. The bruschetta had a strong chilli kick, fantastic with the creamy avocado; the mushrooms were loaded with gooey mozzarella cheese (although probably overpriced at £5.75), and the nachos were fantastically flavoured: stuffed with threes type of cheese with a hint of smokiness, and accompanied by a chunky and sweet tomato dipping sauce.
On my first trip, I opted for the meat pappardelle with a rocket and parmesan salad; when it arrived, I was concerned that it wasn’t enough: but I was happily mistaken. The sauce was rich in flavour, the pork tender. On my second visit, I chose one of the specials – pan-fried cod with butternut squash, on a bed of lentils. My dad shared my concern regarding size this time, and we ordered some garlic bread to share. For the £15 price tag, it did seem expensive for the portion size: but bearing in mind that good quality fish is not cheap to come by, I’m not complaining. The fish was soft, and the squash sweet: all was served beautifully with a drizzle of oil. I also sampled the pumpkin ravioli, deliciously sweet with nutty overtones. This time, though, portion size was undeniably petite.
Desserts were a molten chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream; lemon meringue cheesecake; ice cream with a variety of toppings, including berry compote and butterscotch; and tiramisu. If anything, do not leave without tasting the ice cream – it’s fantastic. I savoured every mouthful of the cake, and helped to polish off my friend’s slice of fluffy and rich cheesecake.
I’d reccommend Jamie’s Italian on the strength of its dining experience, service, and food. Although some portions could have been a bit more generous, taste was faultless; everything was well worth its price.