Pre-opening visit to Jamie's Italian in Guildford
by Mrs Gibba
A couple of months ago, I spotted that an empty building just down the road from my office was being turned into the latest Jamie's Italian restaurant (Jamie's put pictures up on the Moblog today of the building). Much excitement, and I was fortunate enough to be able to get a table to eat there on during their trials week.
I've never eaten in a restaurant when it is going through the trials phase before, and was really intrigued to know what it would be like. I think the team had only started learning the menu earlier on that week - would they be able to create the meals to the necessary standards? I knew that Gennaro Contaldo had been down teaching them the menu, so fingers crossed for our Friday night out.
G and I went with two of our really good friends, Alison and David (see the picture for them), and met up for some drinks in the bar area. This was our first look of the inside of the refurbished building. It's all bare concrete and steel, with accents of red in the lighting etc. Nice. Sure Kevin McCloud would like it from Grand Designs, showing the structure of the building, and really different from what I have seen of the other Jamie's Italians' restaurants. I like that each restaurant's decor has been designed to sit the building, rather than each being made the same.
Us girls started with cocktails (I had Rossini, a strawberry flavoured sparkling wine cocktail, minus the garnish as they had run out, poured by a bar tender who was still learning – perhaps getting towards the end of a long night?), the boys on beer. After about 15 mins, our table was ready. We went upstairs to the mezzanine level where there is a 2nd kitchen and bar. We were lucky and got one of the booths, the waitresses seem to like these, and we liked them too - nice and comfortable and not too close to other tables.
We decided to get a bunch of different starters to share: the meat and vegetarian antipasti – reminded me of one I shared with Mr Peter Begg at Fifteen , and also the marinated sardines and bread. I loved this part of the meal as we all dived into the middle of the table.
For wine, we shared the Montepulciano DAbruzzo, nice and chocolatey. The good thing about going out with Alison is that she used to work in the wine business and can easily pick a nice bottle, something I struggle with.
For mains we had a variety, G had the crab spaghetti, David had Jamie’s Flash Steak (they had run out of the pork skewers), Alison the soft shell crab fritti, and I had the chicken cooked under a brick – partly because it was free range and I won’t go near chicken in a restaurant unless I know it was free range. For sides we had a couple of portions of the truffle chips and the radicchio, rocket and parmesan salad. This came nice and promptly and the waitress helped us with our questions, she was very knowledgeable and had enjoyed tasting all the meals earlier on in the week.
We couldn’t manage desserts, but did have coffee and brandy – the waitress was even able to recommend the brandy to us.
S overall, a fabulous night, really enjoyed it and the service and food was really good. I would say, if you are invited to the trials of a restaurant, go, as if they have got to that stage, they should be all but at full speed – apart from a nervous barman and running out of a couple of things, everything was pretty well as you would expect when they open, which I think is this week! They were definitely tested as the place was heaving, which it will hopefully be every night.
Can’t finish this post without mentioning the loos – loved their quirkiness, but the hand-driers were sooooooooo loud, you were deafened.
Ooohhhh jealous is right Mrs G! You are a lucky lucky girl.
So cool to hear all about this. What a lovely and interesting night! And what fabulous food.
by Mrs Gibba
Thanks ladies! Was a brilliant night