I could be mistaken for thinking the Universe had some massive reason for not wanting me to indulge in the works of Jamie Oliver. My first restaurant visit (to ‘Fifteen London’) was at the end of a day of gastro and my second was destroyed by a ‘natural disaster’ forcing closure of ‘Jamie’s Italian’ in Cambridge. Not to be defeated, we managed to make a booking at his Portsmouth restaurant for our last night in the UK. Our second attempt at Jamie’s Italian was much more successful.
In a very urban part of town, the docks of Portsmouth have a retail complex similar to Pacific Fair at the Gold Coast, with a variety of cafes and restaurants along the water’s edge. It was a lovely warm evening, perfect for al fresco dining …not entirely sure I would want to be there in a month or two though.
Jamie’s restaurant is a bit more central off one of the courtyards. It had the same industrial feel as ‘Fifteen’ but much larger and with a broader menu. Our waiter was quite the charmer, openly confessing the promo stickers on his shirt were hiding tomato sauce stains and sharing a joke. Interestingly, all the male wait-staff had dark hair and none were clean shaven, we had to wonder if it was part of their contract to fill the ‘sexy Italian’ look.
First we started with a cocktail (of course) and then ‘antipasti’ platter, available on ‘planks’ or ‘plates., Let’s face it, plates just sound boring. We had a few options to choose from including vegetarian or seafood, we chose the typical meat & cheese one. Nothing particularly special although I did like the innovative idea for placing it on the table using tinned Italian tomatoes to raise the board, cool! I might just steal this little idea.
There was a kids menu, which was useful, and not. Whilst I think it’s fantastic that chef’s get creative and prepare some really fabulous dishes for younger people, the reality is that generally if you have to ask for the kids menu it’s because they don’t like ‘grown up’ food. Hence, ‘small’ doesn’t mean ‘kids’, especially when it’s got that special grown-up touch about it. Miss ‘Picky’ 8 screwed her nose up at the seeds, and the salad (though cool idea in the jar) and polenta chips just weren’t her thing either. Extra entree for hubby …and a special order of spaghetti and tomato sauce for Miss 8, fingers crossed the sauce wasn’t too chunky!!! Colouring in and pencils also supplied – always handy!
I couldn’t decide between risotto or pasta. They make their own pasta at the restaurant that can actually be bought retail there, along with pizza bases and a variety of deli meats and cheeses. Consequently, I chose both! I was exhausted, but the lure of a creamy risotto laced with truffle and a home-made pasta were too great.
I’m no risotto expert, certainly Aussie Masterchef make their point time and time again of what a good one should be like, but it just didn’t seem ‘perfect’ to me (sorry Jamie). No, it wasn’t a gluggy mess, but there just seemed a bit too much ‘grit’ left in the rice. I suspect another minute of cooking and it would have hit the mark …we’ll blame the chef as having a bad day). Despite this though, it tasted great …I do love those truffles! I was already starting to fall asleep at the table, so I didn’t quite finish it in order to have some of my pasta too.
A+ for the pasta. I chose the Tagliatele Bolognaise: Ragu of British beef and pork with herbs, Chianti, parmesan and crunchy herby breadcrumbs. I think we definitely go a bit overboard at home with our ready-made pasta sauce in a jar, drenching our bolognaises with tomato, there’s something left to be said about a little going a long way .
With a selection of many other dishes including steaks and chicken as well as some tempting sides, Jamie’s Italian has a good menu on offer.
As for dessert – I couldn’t fit another thing in!!! I especially would have had trouble as almost every one of them took my fancy. Certainly it’s a shame we don’t have a Jamie’s Italian nearby (bring one to Brissie maybe Jamie????) as you could easily find your way there often and not be disappointed.