*Thank you to Jamie's Italian Restaurant for allowing me to come down for reviewing purposes*
Finding restaurants with the whole package are hard to come by; a great view, delicious food and some pretty darn good cocktails! Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver finally brought his restaurant to the North East early last year, and after visiting I can see why diners are still rushing to get a table. The interior design is quirky; industrial-meets-urban foundations with a touch of rustic italian flair throughout. I was fortunate enough to take along Liam and his parents along with me as we decided to take it as an opportunity to enjoy a meal together for his 23rd birthday last week. One thing Mr. Oliver deserves be credited it on is certainly the presentation of his dishes. Yes, they are slightly over-priced in comparison with independent restaurants you can find throughout Newcastle. But i guess that's something to be expected when visiting a chained establishment.
For my starter I opted for the Crispy Squid, accompanied with garlic mayo and chopped chilli and lemon. For me personally I would have preferred for the batter to have been a little darker in colour, so with every bite it would have packed a bigger crunch. Despite this it was seasoned really well and the hint of chilli added a great element to the dish which left you wanting more. With my meal I decided to order a non-alcoholic cocktail. Not out of making a huge stance of saying "NO TO ALCOHOL!" but because when I really think about it, the only alcohol I ever do drink, are ones where you can't taste any alcohol in them. So by ordering the Ginger Beer Mojito I got all the zing and bitterness of a Mojito, without a need for the alcoholic element to it, and it tasted just the same. If not better.
For my main course both myself and Liam's mam ordered the Italian Steak Frites, a marinated flattened steak with a side order of italian-spiced fries pickles and crunchy kale slaw. This dish will take you back a decent £15.95 and although afterwards it was incredibly filling and I was left satisfied, part of me was thinking that I could have got something much better for my money elsewhere. The steak was lovely and tender and had a great kick to it with the peppered marinade glazed on top. With the fries I'm unsure if 'italian-spiced' would be the correct term; they were much more of a flavouring I would associate with Indian food. Which when pairing it with the kale slaw and the steak I'm not sure if they complimented each other. However on there own they tasted really well, and Liam certainly kept taking them off my plate at every opportunity he could!
To summarise, I wouldn't say I didn't enjoy the food at Jamie's Italian. The ambience inside was great and the staff could not be more attentive and helpful. My only issue, the only word that keeps coming to my mind to describe the food would be mediocre. Especially for the price tag that comes along with it. Does that mean i'll never go again? Of course not, and I would certainly recommend it to others to try out for themselves. However thanks to Hannah I've recently started to realise that are many great indepedent eateries all around the North East and I would much rather take a trip to them. They are giving back to the community they are based in as opposed to another restaurant as part of Jamie's Empire.