We um-ed and ah-ed about this one. On the one hand Jamie Oliver needs absolutely no help from us to make a successful restaurant. Surely we’d be better off supporting local talent. But on the other hand the new project from this divisive character is one of the most exciting openings of the year. Ultimately we thought that you need to know if it’s worth your hard-earned.
The menu makes a lot of bold claims about ‘best ever’ this and ‘ultimate’ that. You can even ‘upgrade’ your olive oil and balsamic vinegar that comes with the delicious rosemary-topped bread basket (£2.95). We share the stunning bread and a pasta starter of sausage pappardelle (£6.45). The latter’s tomato sauce takes a backseat to the rich meat, while the crunchy herbed breadcrumbs give a crunch that has us fighting for the octopus tentacle-like pasta. The lamb lollipops (£13.95) are so succulent, a simple, unique way of eating, held in fingers and dipped into mint and nuts. The flash steak (£12.95) is great, with so is a wonderful sharpness in the generous salsa. The so-called “funky” chips (£2.50) were light, ungreasy and highlighted the home cooked feel throughout.
We came at Jamie’s Italian fairly neutrally, not liking chains yet being fairly fond of the man himself, but we were blown away. In terms of food it was worth every penny of the mid-range bill, and so much more. Top quality ingredients put together delicately and cleverly for flavours that really benefit one another. But for £60 including wine the dining experience wasn’t quite there. It was noisy, with too many people on tables a little too small. The presentation was second to none though and overall the food – oh, the food! – more than made up for the hustle and bustle.
WERE WE SUSSED
Oh, so badly. One of the guys who lives next to the SOURCE’s Secret Bunker was working the bar, and an old friend spied us from the kitchen. But everyone else seemed to be getting the same subtly good service. Incidentally, they both had nice things to say about working for Mr Oliver.
11 Black Lion Street
01273 915 480
Mon-Sat, noon-11pm; Sun, noon-10.30pm