TVC ventured with friends L and M to Jamie Oliver’s eponymous restaurant in a restyled bank – an immense vault – on King William Street. Having valiantly resited the Jamieabilia for sale in the lobby shop the diner is then assaulted by a tsumani of sound and the unappetising sight of a sea of cafe-like booths. However, the further end of the restaurant is slightly more impressive, with individual tables and banquettes, low lighting and tall, bare windows. The “marble” bar, hung with red peppers and sausage lights, is an imaginative (if not authentic) rendering of an Italian lunch counter. People who looked like after work regulars sat there for hours. The menus are in the now somewhat dated, typographically varied, quirky, difficult to decipher style. Of the things we sought, or were promised, several were unavailable or failed to materialise. Service is overly friendly and tip-seekingly flirty but that’s the style of the place. My caprese salad was poor – islands of unripe tomato and hunks of tasteless boconcini garnished with tiny basil leaves in a pond of olive oil. The fettucini ragu was oddly chewy and gritty without much ragu. But, if you are disappointed with your meal, cheer yourself up with a visit to the bathrooms downstairs in the old high-security section.
MINORITY REPORT FROM OUR FELLOW DINER L
The service staff were charming and gorgeous popping up when needed, delivering smiles and competent service. It made the experience of the restaurant fun and relaxed, amidst a large space bustling with conversation and smells of garlic. Jamie’s brand everywhere while stylish was very much that – everywhere bordering on excessive – bread with ‘Jamie’ burnt into it, was OTT. Food tasty though not exceptional and perhaps because the food is expected to be the hero of the evening it is a tough expectation to live up to. Still enjoyed the experience and the buzz of being there.[note: in the Spectator (22/8/2015), Tanya Gold says of the Soho version that it is inauthentic, narcissistic: “spiritually it is a Surrey pub for divorced dads on Sundays”.]