REVIEW – Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh Assembly Rooms

*****

Jamie's Italian, now open

Jamie’s Italian opens in Edinburgh

Long since has Edinburgh held its breath for the arrival of a new restaurant, especially an Italian one. But Jamie’s Italian, a rather grand feature of the revamped Assembly Rooms on George Street, has had Edinburgh residents flocking in their droves.

On a cold, wet and windy Monday night, you would expect most people to have darted home from work to seek solace in their warm and dry homes. It would seem those who didn’t chose to dine at Jamie’s Italian instead, as the restaurant was full to bursting on the most modest of weekday evenings. I do however, hasten to add, despite the flurry of diners coming in and out, the level of service was uninterrupted, as Neil, our waiter for the evening, catered to our every whim.

After much deliberation, and some time to get to grips with the menu, we launched full pelt into the philosophy of the evening, coined by Jamie of course, which was share and share alike. Our dalliance with this new eaterie started with a cured meat antipasti plank, draped with fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto and schiacciatta piccante (£6.85 per person). The in-house antipasti bar allowed for the meat to be freshly cut at just the right thickness – the perfect precursor to our main meals. But with too much temptation in our midst, we supplemented the array of meats with Jamie’s novel take on nachos – crispy fried four cheese ravioli, garnished with parmesan cheese and served with a spicy arrabiata sauce (£3.55). And of course, you can’t eat Italian and not have olives, so we tucked into reputedly the world’s best olives on ice (£3.95). Plump, green and juicy, they were joined by some ‘music bread’ and a delicious olive tapenade.

The view from our table

The main menu itself is varied, but the pasta menu was rather dominated by fish. Embracing this theme, I opted for the spaghetti vongole, a dish of steamed Welsh cockles, garlic, chilli, white wine, parsley, butter and lemon (£13.35).  The pasta was served al dente, and just the right amount of garlic and white wine allowed the cockles to shine. My dining partner couldn’t see past the jaw dropping Jamie’s Italian burger, served with fontina cheese, crispy mortadella, sticky balsamic onions, tomato, pickles and chilli (£10.95).  The burger was vast, and by all means delicious, however it is worth noting that it is served on a poppy seed and fennel bun.  Everyone knows you can’t have a burger without chips, and in this case, Jamie’s famous polenta chips (£3.95). Fried with rosemary, parmesan and salt, neither component was too overpowering, and provided a refreshing change to the somewhat expected potato chips. Our main courses were washed down by a fresh lemon, elderflower and cranberry juice, topped with lemonade (£3.25), and a glass of Merlot  (£4.45).

Branded napkin

Desserts proved to be a difficult choice. Homemade ice creams and sorbets were locked in contention with warm brownies and almond cakes. Of course the latter won, as we shared a chocolate, raspberry and amaretto brownie (£4.95), served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This dessert was faultless – deliciously gooey and heavenly with a lingering taste of amaretto. The almond tart with smashed strawberries and vanilla ice cream (£4.95)  was also an excellent way to end the meal.

The presence in Jamie’s Italian restaurant tonight suggests it’s the new ‘place to be seen’ in Edinburgh. Whether or not this is a knee-jerk reaction to the hype, time will tell. But for the moment it’s buon appetito as Jamie’s Italian can’t be denied anything other than a thumbs up for good Italian food, and great service.

Total cost for two people excluding drinks – £52.50.

Information

Jamie’s Italian, The Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LR

Tel: 0131 202 5452. You can also book online.

Jamie’s Italian is part of the renovated Assembly Rooms. You can access it via Rose Street or via George Street (bookings only). There is a queuing system in place for those without bookings.

The restaurant is split over 3 levels, with baby-changing facilities on the middle level.

The children’s menu is offered in retro view finders, which youngsters (and parents) love.

Suitable for disabled?

There are two disabled bathrooms in the restaurant. One is situated on the Rose Street level and the other on the top level of the restaurant (George Street). The middle section is  not accessible to wheelchairs, so worth booking and specifying requirements.

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