The Big O

Interpret that title as you wish, but for me I was most excited about the opportunity to visit a restaurant owned by Mr Oliver …Jamie Oliver to be precise.

Already well known as ‘The Naked Chef’ (“It’s not me, it’s the food”) Jamie Oliver began his first mission to make the World a better place. Keen to give young wayward people another chance in life, Jamie embarked on training 15 young Londoners in the culinary arts. The journey was filmed and created the ‘reality’ television series “Jamie’s Kitchen”. Ten years on, the restaurant known as “Fifteen” has just celebrated it’s first decade of business and has branched to 3 other restaurants around the world including Melbourne Australia.

Situated at the end of a small alley in London, the hot pink and black exterior gave a modern and groovy feel to the place. The restaurant consists of two levels with the upper (ground level) focusing mostly on the bar and light eating.  The lower level provides a more intimate ambiance for dining. Both levels have an open kitchen where you can view the chefs busy at work.

The menu was Italian of nature, Jamie’s strength arising from his training under the World famous Antonio Carluccio. There were half a dozen or so choices for each category of appetisers/ antipasto, pasta / risotto or mains. Unfortunately there wasn’t a kids menu of such with the restaurant clearly aiming to capture the market of 20-somethings. With the recommended dish consisting of olives it took quite an effort to request a simple bowl of pasta with a plain tomato concasse (a sauce for many tomato-based sauces).

Given I wasn’t well and really only just managed to drag myself out the door to get there, I was looking for the best high-carb low-meat dish on offer, Linguine Cabonara was my choice (you can’t go wrong with a little bit of bacon right?). My companions ordered the duck. Miss 8 had some oriechette with a tomato sauce.

Overall for something of Jamie’s calibre the meals were good but far from exceptional in presentation or creativity. With a small bowl of linguine mixed with a creamy cheesey sauce with a meagre portion of speck bacon thrown in setting me back £13 I think we were definitely paying for the experience and not the food. Hubby treated himself to a white chocolate parfait for dessert [I could have happily eaten all that were on offer if I had been feeling any better].

Service was polite but lacking some warmth. Most disappointing was Jamie didn’t accept my invitation via facebook to join me with the family to dine ….you’d think he had better things to do! With plans to visit “Jamie’s Italian” in Cambridge next month we look forward to something a little more special …what are the chances he’ll pop in then????

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