With over 30 restaurants worldwide was Jamie’s Italian restaurant’s trading on the name? The Edinburgh restaurant opened its doors in July 2012. Situated in the former supper halls of the Assembly Rooms on George Street, the 18th century grandeur building has been transformed to a bustling restaurant that serves around 1000 covers a day. After applying for my Jamie’s ‘gold club’ card where you receive benefits such as complimentary treats, rewards and £10 off your first visit, two of my friends and myself decided to try out Jamie’s cuisine.
The restaurant is divided into two tiers, one in which you can enter from George street the other from Rose street. The whole atmosphere is grand with the high ceilings and red velvet seats. Mixing the traditional with the modern the restaurant provided a relaxed contemporary feel. We were looking forward to the evening.
The waitress arrived and explained the menu and the benefits of being a ‘gold member’ informing us that she would give us complimentary nibbles. The menu has lots of interesting twists such as planks for starters which you can have on your own or share and provides different tastes of either, meat, fish or vegetables. Also you are able to order all the pasta dishes as small or larger plates, giving you more options. We all ordered a Rossini, prosecco with red berry purée to start our evening.
The slightly bitter fresh berry pureed into sweet sparkly was very refreshing. The complimentary nibble however was basically a piece of pecorino cheese on a cracker with a little dollop of sweet chilli sauce, nothing to get too excited about. We hoped our meal was going to be more impressive.
For starters my friend and I shared a fish plank and crab and avocado bruschetta. Both starters were presented on wooden boards. The plank lay on top of two tins of tomatoes, very quirky. This dish consisted of different fish elements. There was smoked salmon, a single mussel and a clam (both sweet and juicy), smoked mackerel pâté (smooth and full of flavour) served on top of crunchy bruschetta topped with the juicest olives and a green chilli that did not deliver on heat. Also a mini Frito misto with yuzu mayo; crunchy fried fish that was cooked to perfection which was superb. On the downside another piece of aged pecorino with crispy “music bread” and chilli jam.
The crab and avocado bruschetta was delightful. Topped on lightly toasted sourdough, sweet crab shredded in a light mix of olive oil with smooth avocado purree at the side. Matchsticks of apple throughout the crab to give a tangy taste and mint and lemon to make this a fresh light starter.
After a slightly longer wait than we would have liked and ordering a bottle of house wine our main meals arrived. We had all opted for pasta dishes. My wild rabbit tagliolini was pleasant but did not excite me. Slow cooked ragu of rabbit which was sweet and tender mixed into the pasta with mascarpone and lemon it had a light carbonara taste.
Other pastas ordered were the sausage pappardelle again a ragu of sausage, red wine and fennel; this certainly did not live up to expectations. A very bland dish with no real flavour. In contrast the mortadella and ricotta caramelle delivered many taste sensations. Pasta filled with mortadella & chicken, coated in a blue cheese sauce and topped with toasted, spiced nuts with an apple, lemon and parsley salad. This was the pasta dish of the table.
For desert Tutti frutti lemon meringue pie. Crunchy biscuit base with bitter lemon topped with smooth sweet meringue. This desert delivered on taste however my friends trifle and jelly and ice-cream again was nothing to applaud.
We ended the night with the cocktail special, strawberry cheesecake. Tasted more like a dessert than the trifle! Definitely the climax of the evening. This restaurant can make outstanding drinks.
Throughout the meal, the service was very slow. We were in no hurry so this did not prove a problem. The waitress was friendly enough however I felt the service was uninspiring and more routine than personal.
Overall the name ‘Jamie’ does bring people to the restaurant therefore you go with a certain expectation. The menu is interesting and with the correct ordering the food can be fantastic, however there are many disappointing dishes to be avoided. There is no doubt that the venue is inspiring it is just a pity the service and food do not match up.
Bill for three: £120 (with bottle wine and cocktails)
Food: Modern Italian
Atmosphere: Impressive grand restaurant
Overall: 5.5 / 10