In the run up to Christmas, social calendars get packed to the rafters with lunches, dinners and drinks as family and friends bid to ‘do the rounds’ and see all their loved ones in the allotted time before the big day on the 25th. For me and my uni friend Eva, we settled on a spot of lunch at Westfields in Stratford, before going our separate ways to complete some festive shopping. With Italian being one of my favourite genres of food, and previously spying a Jamie’s Italian within the complex, I quickly suggested the eatery to Eva, promptly booking a table.
With a modern yet retro vibe, Jamie’s Italian is situated on one of the outside stretches at Westfields, shoulder to shoulder with other restaurants and bars. The all-encompassing glass walls make it look inviting as you look in at smiling diners, the light bulb letters of the venue burning and reflecting gaily from the polished glass. Although there was a patio area surrounded by branded awning, the weather was still chilly enough for me to instantly head instead. With pale wooden flooring, clustered of varied seating and a vague industrial feel, I was instantly greeted by a member of staff at the door, who had me promptly shown to our table, located right next to one of the walls so that I could nosily people watch. The chairs were comfortable plastic dining chairs, the table silver with a metallic gleam. I felt trendy just sitting there, and although the décor was stark with a touch of minimalism, I wouldn’t say it was uncomfortable or unwelcoming.
I started by ordering a soft drink – a refreshing sounding homemade lemonade with a twist of mint and a sprinkling of sugar. With chunks of ice it was so delicious and crisp, really quenching my thirst well yet not leaving me feeling bloated with the fizz. It was really nice to have something obviously homemade in the drinks menu as opposed to just using lemonade from a bottle and although I wasn’t sure if it would taste any different, it totally did – and it was superior.
For my main course, I had the fancies for pasta, so when I spotted the Vegetable Rotola Al Forno on the menu, I couldn’t resist ordering it, as not only did it include pasta, but also many of my other favourite flavours as well. Pumpkin, squash and spinach were to be rolled in pasta, and baked with tomatoes, ricotta and basil, topped with classic Parmesan cheese and herby breadcrumbs. Loving almost every ingredient in this dish I ordered excitedly, expecting a hearty cannelloni style dish. When it arrived at the table however, it wasn’t really what I was expecting, although I still loved the exquisite flavours and how they combined together. The vegetables were clumped together in large ovals, combined with the creamy ricotta cheese, with one single strip of pasta skirting the veggie oval. The rounds of seasonal veg were placed in a light yet flavourful tomato sauce, the breadcrumbs on top adding an extra texture with a decent crunch against the soft squidge of the mashed up vegetables. There were only two of the baked vegetable circles, and I didn’t request any sides, so to be honest it wasn’t a massive portion; definitely suitable for my lunch but I’m not sure it would have been enough for dinner. The rustic flavours combined with the tomato sauce were superb, and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, although it wasn’t what I was expecting or originally fancied!
Already off to a decent start, and after I had polished my plate, as always I fancied dessert. I scoured the menu and settled on the Chocolate and Hazelnut Artic Roll, which is quite simply one of the best desserts I have ever eaten. Composed of chocolate and espresso semi freddo wrapped in chocolate sponge and then drizzled with chocolate shavings and butterscotch sauce, it outclassed every ice cream based dessert I have ever had. The semi freddo is a much thicker, creamier variation of ice cream, the chocolate flavour having that same dark intensity and slight sludge of brownies, which felt so decadently delicious. The paler coloured semi freddo had a wonderful caramel tasting tone with the coffee and paired with the rich chocolate it was sensational. The sponge didn’t crumble and stuck nicely to the ice cream, providing a lovely soft outer shell to the lashings of ice cream. It was just perfect in every way and I could quite happily have eaten seconds!
I decided to finish off with a cappuccino and in true Italian fashion, it was wonderfully frothy, sprinkled elegantly with coco powder, the coffee flavour intense and punchy yet nice and smooth too. Not too expensive either and with good solid service from our waiter, it was a really lovely meal out on the whole and I was impressed by the high quality of the food, although the portions were just a smidge too small, especially for the main course. I can’t wait to visit again and make my way through more of the menu!