Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Super Lunch Menu at Jamie's Italian - Leeds

I worked out the other day that I haven’t been to Jamie’s Italian for around 7 years. Those 7 years have flown by as I recall when it first opened, the long queues that went down the side of the building on Park Row for people to get in and the hubbub around it opening. It seems a lifetime away and I doubt that a Jamie’s Italian would cause the same excitement 7 years on. So why was it so popular back then? Was Jamie Oliver at the height of his popularity or was there just not that many exciting food places to go in Leeds? I don’t recall Carluccio’s getting the same treatment when they opened on Greek Street (recently closed).

Whatever the reason Jamie’s is still popular with Leeds Folk, perhaps not queueing down Park Row popular but popular enough that you need to book a table on a Friday night or face waiting in the bar for a little while.

Although Jamie’s remains a Firm favourite with weekenders Jamie’s is trying to bring in the mid-weekers with their launch of the new Super Lunch Menu. If you’re on a working lunch you want something speedy, not too heavy and not too pricey. Jamie’s offers 2 courses for £11.95 and three for £13.95, which incidentally is the same deal as Bill’s. So if you fancy something a little lighter (as Bill’s lay on the calories in most of their dishes) or perhaps something a bit more culinary specific i.e. Italian then Jamie’s is a good alternative.

I was invited to review the lunch menu buy Jamie’s, it runs from 12 to 6pm which is great for those early bird diners too. We popped in straight after work on a Friday just after 5pm. The restaurant was quiet when we arrived but as we left there were people waiting for tables in the bar area. Remember to book kids.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Instagram you will have probably have noticed that currently I am on a diet, need to get that bikini body for summer… or rather just have my regular clothes fit me again. I was happy to find on Jamie’s website that I could find the nutritional information without having to hunt it down through small print somewhere in a link that no-one ever clicks on (as you can probably guess this is not the same for all restaurants). Due to needing to work out how many calories I could spare for Friday’s meal I already knew what I was going to order when we got to the restaurant.

Everything went out of the window when I got to the restaurant.

It was Friday straight from work so I set about ordering myself a Strawberry Rossini, not in my diet plan, but contains fruit so I’m taking that as one of my five a day. D opted for non-alcoholic cocktail Berry Blast.

Drinks arrived rather speedily and we ordered our starters and mains. Okay so not everything went out the window, I was planning on having the Tomato Bruschetta as this was the dish with the least calories in it. Surprising really when you consider how much whipped ricotta was spread on to my bread. Despite it lacking/not lacking in calories it was a really nice dish but I did find the ricotta a little over whelming with it being so rich that admittedly I had to scrape a little off.

D looked on envious and said he wished he had ordered the same, but D also has this slight addiction to Asparagus and therefore has to order it whenever he sees it on a menu (read the same for broccoli). Looking at his dish (now and then) I’m glad I ordered the bruschetta as this just looked a little flat but D tells me it was still delicious.

My good intentions went out the window again when for mains I ordered an Aperol Spritz paired with a bowl of pasta. Damn it. I was all geared up to continue drinking water and order the Caesar Salad but when I looked at it there on the menu it really didn’t inspire me. The big bowl of carbs seemed much more appetising and so I ordered the Nduja Rigatoni. 

I could have eaten this dish a little spicier, I expected it to be spicier due to the Nduja, but I guess you also don’t want to be overloading on spice over lunch time. Spare a thought for your workloads. I wasn’t offered Parmesan for my pasta and nor did I request it when we were asked if there was anything else we needed. It already had a shaving of cheese on top best not make the calorie situation worse. I particularly enjoyed the addition of broccoli in this dish and again I'd like to think this contributed to one of my 5 a day and made it not too unhealthy...

D ordered the steak and chips (£3 supplement). If you read my blog regularly you may see a reoccurring theme of D ordering steak, it’s not that he’s not adventurous he just loves steak. As to be expected with a lunch menu steak the steak is flat iron and served either well done or pink. This was a true flat iron steak (a relief as so many other places are trying to pass other cuts of steak as flat iron simply because they don’t know how to differentiate their cooking between well done, medium, medium rare, rare, blue etc.). The fries were pushing the barrier towards shoestring and had skin on (good thing in my books as it adds a little more flavour).

D paired his steak with Liberta Jamie’s own branded craft lager. Unfortunately there wasn’t much choice in the ‘beer’ department other than lager. D enjoyed it nevertheless.

For dessert I stuck to my plan, although I argued with myself right up until ordering and ordered the lemon sorbet. The lowest calorie dessert. How sad was that last sentence. No one wants the lowest calorie dessert. No offence sorbet. The sorbet was good, very refreshing and as sorbet should be but I found it a little too sweet and D gladly finished it off for me.

Meanwhile across the table D had ordered probably the most calorific dessert on the menu, warm chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream and popcorn. It looked amazing. It smelt amazing. My deprived stomach yearned for it. D let me have a bite. I could have cried. Damn my previous self being so full of gluttony and putting on a stone so I have to diet and miss out on warm chocolate brownies with ice cream.

Service was top notch throughout, there was no fuss when we asked to be moved to a lighter spot in the restaurant either.

Again, if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my post of the below tiles and my inner history geek seep through. The building that houses Jamie’s Italian was formerly used by Midland Bank, the bank was one of the big four banks in the UK at the time (now taken over by HSBC) and as was the fashion at the time banks had some of the grandest buildings. When Jamie’s opened up their restaurant here they stripped back the old plasterboards and revealed the ornate features that once defined the inside of the building. Although much of the original décor has been lost from what there is remaining you can get a glimpse in to how beautiful this building must have been in its heyday. Jamie’s has added some new features but they are all within taste of the original décor. The toilets are amazing, don’t visit without paying a trip.

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