The first thing I noticed about Jamie’s Italian at Westfield London is that it’s huge — it seems to stretch on for a mile. The place was fairly empty when we arrived at 6 but soon filled up with diners. I spotted TV presenter Jasmine Dotiwala (remember her from MTV and The Word way back?) and some mates at the table next to us.
The first thing the babes noticed, apart from the ice cream van outside, was the cool gadget on our table that gave them a sneak peek of the kids’ menu.
‘Look through here Mum and click the button and you’ll see lots of pictures!’
I wanted to reply – I know how to use a View-Master, I’m an ‘80s kid, fool! (shout out to BA Baracus) – but instead I smiled indulgently and let them have their fun. It’s a lovely touch and also a great way to keep the little monsters busy when hungry whining threatens.
I’d only eaten once before at a Jamie’s Italian (Piccadilly branch) and I couldn’t get enough of their superfood salad. The photos I took of my salad, and our meal during this review, inspired lots of screen licking on my Instagram feed. And the food tastes as good as it looks.
For starters, I ordered Crispy Squid with chilli to share. The boys had never tasted calamari before and weren’t too crazy about the crunchy baby octopus.
I wound up having to eat most of it myself. Tough life.
The boys ordered from the Kids’ Menu which at £5.95 is about standard for your average chain. Given Jamie’s devotion to improving family nutrition, it’s all quality food: everything is organic, free-range, sustainable. The children’s meals are good size portions and come with a salad, as well as ice cream or fresh fruit (50p extra).
Jed had Mini Sliders (organic beef and chicken burgers) with crinkle cut wedges; Ezra slurped happily from a bowl of yummy Spaghetti Bolognese (I had a mouthful).
Jamie Oliver has spent extensive time in Italy learning trade secrets from nonnas. So his Italian dishes are certainly more successful than his attempts to cook Nigerian food. His version of jollof rice – a West African staple – caused outrage on Twitter (#jollofgate). He’s gone on to distress Nigerians with a ‘suya’ that bears little resemblance to our favourite barbecued meat. Maybe he needs to invest some time in an African mama’s kitchen?
But back to Jamie’s Italian, a venture inspired by Jamie’s mentor and associate Gennaro Contaldo who helped create the rustic Italian menu, with a ‘Jamie twist’. Now a chain of more than 30 restaurants worldwide, Jamie’s Italian is hardly Polpo, but you’ll get a taste of Italy at a comfortable price.
I had grilled Lamb Chops Scottadita and devoured it to the bone. It’s so prettily served on a platter board, with all the textures, colours and flavours working beautifully together — from toasted nuts to crunchy yet crumbly polenta chips and dipping yoghurt.
I didn’t think I had room for dessert but the Epic chocolate fudge brownie with ice cream and caramelised popcorn was calling my name. This is probably one of my favourite brownies I’ve had in a restaurant, gooey and rich and warm and not overly chocolatey.
We were very impressed by our experience at Jamie’s Italian. It ticks a lot of family friendly boxes: wide aisles for pushchairs, baby-changing, highchairs, kids’ menu, kids’ activity, relaxed noise levels and really tasty food. The Babes approve.
Jamie’s Italian is at Westfield London and branches across the UK and overseas. Visit jamieoliver.com/italian/restaurants to find your nearest location.