Monday, 27 April 2009

Jamie's Italian, Oxford

I must admit I have never been a fan of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks. He seems like a great guy but I never imagined him as a competent reaterauneur or businessman, thay is until I visited the first of his new (mini)chain in Oxford- Jamie's Italian.

Interior a curious blend of smiths of Smithfield and Zizzi's. Which seems to work well to generate that casual atmosphere. Somewhat obscure grafitti pipes drawn on the walls downstairs, I would probably avoid eating down there, it is dark and everyone walks past on the way to the loo.

We had a bread selection, a nice mix but only really enough for 2 to munch on. I had the mushroom ravioli to start which was flavoured well to be interesting whilst still retaining the delicate taste if the mushrooms. My dining companion had the 'DIY' Bruschetta which looked fun but fairly standard. Great pesto though.

My main was the sirloin with skinny rosemary chips in the side, the meat was nice and cooked decently. The mushrooms served on top provided a nice compliment to the meat. My one disappointment was the chips which a were overcooked and dry. I also got a taste of the pumpkin ravioli which was excellent - good pasta with a pumpkin and ricotta filling and a slightly sweet pumpkin sauce and rosemary apinkled atop. Also on our table was the tuna salad which was superbly presented (I wish I had taken a picture of it) a great mix of colours with the pink of the tuna and the green leaves. I tasted the tuna which was cooked to perfection and very tender.

Service was excellent, very attentive friendly and above what one would expect from somoething in this price bracket. Our waitress was very knowledgable about the dishes and did not rush us despite the queue! The bill came to £25 per head for two courses and a third if a bottle of house red each. Jamie has done well to create a restaurant that is a cut above in terms of quality and service whilst remaining at the upper end of the midmarket. This certainly gives Carliccio's a good run for their money. Bring it on I say. 8/10.

Jamies Italian. 24-26 George street, Oxford OX1 2AE. 01865 83 83 83.

Branches also in Bath, Kingston & Brighton.


  1. Jamie is cool and sort of goes after his dishes with wild abandon? Sounds like a good experience. We would love to visit Oxford! Forget Jamie? best from Santa Barbara, s

  2. Something about Jamie that food people just don't like, hard to pinpoint... Is this him or is he just the name on the door like so much of his stuff!

  3. I know what you mean about the 'something' that foodies just don't like about him. I think the fact that he has never had a 'real' restaurant accounts for a lot of it.

    And no, this isn't him cooking, it is just his name above the door and a lot of cringe-worthy 'lovely' 'scrumptious' etc on the menu.

    Jamie is no Gordon Ramsay, but at least Jamie's Italian is at least not trying to be anything more than a mid-market chain...

  4. My opinion on Jamie waivers...sometimes he's annoying and other times tolerable. I actually enjoy his cooking shows where he cooks from his garden and his simple recipes are great. HOWEVER, his Ministry of Food angered me on so many levels. He drives around in his range rover preaching to others that they need to make fresh food cooked at home a priority. He didn't realize that when you have two jobs, a few kids, and can't afford the gas to turn on your oven buying fresh local apples is the least of your worries.

    Jamie was way off the mark with the Ministry of Food - he should have addressed food deserts and the huge link between poverty and poor diet, rather than ridicule the poor for not cooking from scratch.

    Its unfortunate too because I do believe he wants to help - he just used his celebrity without thinking it through.

    Sorry for going off a bit - I'd probably give his restaurant a go if I was nearby...

  5. went to jamies oxford for lunch with my wife, service staff were for good, found table setup very compact not very private for conversation found out chap next to us got bad piles and week bladder his wife did not care, sick of hearing about it like me!.
    i had the nachos as a starter and spag bol as main wife had bread selection and spanish sausage pasta main, i must say each to their own when it comes to taste but jamies has got to be rated no 1 for the worst meal i have ever had in a restaurant i don't know about comparing jamie to gordon ramsey but im sure gordon brown could have done better and he can't run a country let alone a kitchen