Anyone who has done some swimming knows of the intense hunger you get after. I don’t know what it is but my body feels absolutely empty after a few hundred metres of swimming in the pool or open water. So, when I was contacted by TUG to head over to Jamie’s Italian at Stratford and try some of their dishes for a blog review I said yes without even thinking about it.
Most Fridays Alex and I swim at the Olympic Pool and then head over to Stratford for a meal that bankrupts us due to our insatiable hunger. We’ve tried Wahaca, Pizza Express, even GBK. All delicious, but none fill me up. If a restaurant was willing to risk me eating them out of food for the night, well then, who am I to say no.
We arrived at Jamie’s post swim with the classiest outfits of half dried hair and goggle marks around our eyes (see #swimselfie above for proof). Before our swim I noticed we were running late so I called to push back our reservation and they were really nice and accommodating about that. When we arrived the hostess looked up our names and it had a note beside them that said *VIP*. She then looked at us, looked back at the VIP, and said, “Are you gold members or something?” and I said no (since we weren’t) and she then said there must be a mistake and removed the VIP note. It was a pretty embarrassing way to start the night, but I figured better to be treated like the regular people we are for a review than VIPs.
We were sat in the bar area right beside a servers computer area. It was also right beside a floor to ceiling window out to the patio. Our table and the table on the patio were so close that if there was not glass there they would have been on our laps. There were a few points in the meal when they stood up and their low rising jeans showed a lot more skin than I usually see at dinner. I guess it’s a good thing their glass was so clean we could see so much… I guess.We ordered some tap water, a bottle of wine, and two starters to start. The crispy squid starter was the biggest disappointment of my life. I love calamari (see my San Sebastian blog post for the calamari sandwich we had twice on that trip it was so good) As you can see from the photo below we were given 5 pieces of crispy squid. 5 for the price of £5.85 and they were not crispy. The other starter we had was the pasta nachos which was pretty yummy in that the tomatoes and green sauce (not guacamole, 90% mayo and maybe a piece of avo to give it a green tinge) were fresh and tasty, but the fried pasta was bland.
For our mains we each had a pasta dish. I had the Squid & Mussel Spaghetti which was OK but lacked any special or memorable taste. It also promised flash-fried squid in the dish but I only found 3 pieces. Alex had a daily special tagliatelle with lamb and it too was OK but he actually didn’t finish it, which is unheard of. Alex makes this pasta at home that I call one-pot-wonder. It’s spaghetti, pesto, raw peppers, blocks of cheese, and some olives. He literally throws it all in together and eats it. I think it’s safe to say he’s usually not picky when it comes to eating any pasta.
We had been sitting for about an hour and our water jug hadn’t been refilled yet even though our waiter had visited the table at least 3 times and we were sitting by the waiters computer station. We had staff walking by a lot so I’m not sure if that’s a policy of theirs or not but we were thirsty swimmers.
We shared a cheesecake for desert and I’m not a big cheesecake fan but Alex is and he said the one you can get in those little pots at Waitrose is better.
At the end of our meal we were given the bill without the promised reimbursement and had to again (embarrassingly) tell the waiter that we were supposed to be given a a complementary meal. She said she didn’t know anything of this (erm, maybe the note at the beginning was a hint?) and set off to find her manager which took another 15 minutes of us sitting there with no water and wanting to leave to catch the end of the World Cup Spain v. Netherlands game.
To say we were disappointed with our meal is an understatement. I didn’t have the highest hopes going in as I had been to Jamie’s before and wasn’t wowed or anything, but that said I am literally a vacuum when it comes to post-swim meals and any semi-decent establishment serving edible food would have got an decent review.
Yikes. I’ve been to Jamie’s Italian once. Not rushing to go back.
Me neither. There are SO MANY other delicious Italian places out there. It really is a difficult food to mess up, but they seem to have done so!
Have to admit, I’ve only eaten there once & wasn’t massively impressed. I thought the portions were pretty stingy & the food was a poor imitation of proper Italian food. A shame really as I have Jamie’s Italy cookbook & it’s actually pretty good!!
I love how honest your review is 🙂 I’ve had good experiences in the past at Jamie’s – the one in Islington has been good the couple of times I have tried it and I trusted it enough to eat at the one in Brighton the night before the night before my marathon (I ate pasta every night for like a week) – but will avoid the Stratford one, even if I do get a craving for “posh chips” (basically just with Parmesan on but I’m a sucker for them!)
Good to know! I’ve been to the Islington one with my parents (as Canadians they were so excited to eat at the “Naked Chef’s restaurant” we’re a bit behind back there…) and it was OK too, not as bad as Stratford that’s for sure.
Oh god I want chips now. I’d even settle for commoner ones.
There used to be the most amazing family run Italian restaurant in central Cardiff. I used to go there with the boys. The old Italian lady who ran it would fuss over my boys and she would tell her staff, all family and friends, who were Welsh Italians, what to make for the boys, dishes that she knew they would like that were often not on the menu. The food and service were always fantastic and the prices so reasonable. A Jamie’s Italian opened just down the road and within months our favourite Italian restaurant was gone. People went there instead of a genuine, warm, brilliant restaurant. I’ve been to Jamie’s and it’s not a patch on the old place. It’s a conveyor belt compared to the experience at our family run fave. I don’t think I’ve forgiven Jamie Oliver for it but I guess he would say they didn’t do enough to appeal to the mass market. I wouldn’t bother with Jamie’s Italia again, I would rather find another genuine Italian restaurant in Cardiff.
It’s refreshing to read a honest review – sometimes you find that when people are given these opportunites to review restaurants and food that you don’t always get real opinions.
I’ve just been asked to review a Jamie’s Italian in Gloucestershire, so will be sure to let you know my thoughts on my local branch! I’m only worried that I’ll have to fork out the bill, hopefully they are warned about reviewers coming in to eat?