Online Lifestyle Editors Alice Belton and Harriette Casey review Jamie’s Italian Exeter….
Jamie’s Italian opened its doors to the public last week in Princesshay, and Jamie’s inspiration and mentor, Genaro Contaldo, was there to greet guests as they tried out the first Jamie’s restaurant in the South West. Situated opposite Debenhams and between Coal and Café Rouge, Jamie’s is directly in the centre of town, with stunning views overlooking the Cathedral. The restaurant has two floors and has a terrace bar that will be available in the Spring and Summer months, where restaurant goers will have the option to enjoy an evening drink there looking out over the Cathedral green or eat one of the many great dishes from the lunchtime menu outside on the terrace on sunny afternoons. Jamie’s Italian is renowned for its delicious Italian dishes and has a wide menu selection, ranging from burgers to fish dishes, pastas and a wide selection of salads. What is great about Jamie’s is you can have most of the pasta and salad options in a smaller lunch portion, so it is incredibly flexible on portion size and a range of options for lunch and dinner.
Alice: Crispy Squid: With crushed garlic mayo, chopped chilli & lemon.
This starter was absolutely delicious and a really generous portion size. I would recommend sharing with a friend if you’re planning on having a main and a pudding, as this was definitely big enough for two people, or if you’re feeling indulgent, it’s great to have on your own! The squid was perfectly cooked and not too chewy and tasted delicious dipped into the garlic mayo!
Harriette: Artisan Bread Basket: with homemade rosemary focaccia, ciabatta, seeded crackerbread, sourdough, & grissini sticks.
I absolutely love bread baskets and this starter was no exception. Everything was really delicious, particularly the foccacia bread and the balsamic vinegar and olive tapenade to go with it were amazing. Jamie’s do actually sell their own balsamic vinegar I saw later on and I was rather tempted! For a starter it was a very generous portion, and like Alice’s could easily be split between two as a nice start to a meal whilst you’re waiting for your mains.
Jamie’s Italian always offers a daily special and the waiting staff are incredibly knowledgeable about how the food is prepared. I had the Seabass which was the special of the day and it was incredibly tasty and fresh. It was a whole seabass and came on a bed of tomato vegetables.
Harriette: Royal Caprese Salad
I scoured the menu for quite a long time – the selection is really great and I can definitely vouch for The Jamie’s Italian Burger, as being up there as one of the best I have ever eaten – and eventually chose the Royal Caprese Salad with added free-range grilled chicken. The salad was a simple mix of roasted heritage tomatoes, mini buffalo mozzarella, San Daniele prosciutto and basil, but it was all beautiful seasoned and really tasty. I spent part of the summer in Sardinia, so I feel like I know a good Italian salad when I have one, and you can get a smaller portion of this one on the lunch menu for just £5.95 – perfect for a lunch date with a girlfriend.
Even though we were already absolutely stuffed, we took one for the team and went for the pudding as well, just for you trusty Lifestyle followers….
Alice: I had the Hazlenut and Chocolate Arctic Roll. It was a chocolate sponge rolled with chocolate & espresso semi freddo, served with chocolate shavings and a butterscotch sauce. It was the perfect ratio of sponge to ice cream, as even though it was full of flavour and very chocolatey, it felt light and not too heavy after the rest of our meal. I highly highly recommend this one to chocoholics- you won’t be disappointed!
Harriette : I opted for the Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake (mascarpone and lemon cheesecake topped with Italian meringue, served with lemon curd and blackcurrants) and received a rather sizeable piece. It tasted absolutely amazing! The meringue had clearly been freshly made and was wonderfully soft and gooey, and the lemon cheesecake was really yummy too. If you’re a lemon fan, a meringue fan, or a cheesecake fan – this is your pud.
Alice: Florence Fizz
If you enjoy sweet cocktails then this is definitely the cocktail for you. It was made up of limoncello, pomegranate juice, elderflower cordial and Prosecco. It was very sweet but had a lovely aftertaste of prosecco and elderflower. It’s a very summery drink and would go down nicely sitting on their summer terrace looking out over the Cathedral.
Glancing down the cocktail menu, I think I would have happily tried them all. It’s lovely to find a restaurant that makes really great cocktails and has such a broad selection on offer. I’d previously had a non-alcoholic cocktail at Jamie’s and really enjoyed it, so I knew I was in for a treat with the real deal. I chose a Bellini, made with Prosecco and peach puree which wasn’t quite as sweet as Alice’s but was really nice. The cocktails were priced between £6.95 and £8.00, but were really delicious for a nice treat with your meal.
We both had a really lovely time at Jamie’s and vowed to visit again soon. The staff were friendly, well informed with regards to menu options, engaging and extremely attentive. The restaurant itself is warm and inviting, with lots of space between tables so you don’t have to overhear other diners conversations. The decor was really cool inside, with lots of quirky comic strip artwork, although we did find the underground toilets a bit chilly.
From a student perspective we thought the majority of meals were reasonably priced considering the restaurants reputation, and of course depending on what you choose. Although some meals are obviously more expensive, it felt like the menu was competitively priced, when compared to some of Exeter’s other fine dining restaurants. For a housemate’s birthday, or a lunch treat with friends it’s a really great place, with great food and wonderful service. Also a great place to get your parents to take you!
Alice Belton and Harriette Casey, Online Lifestyle Editors