I’d been in the relatively recently opened Jamie’s Italian in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh for a quick lunch before and I had thought is was OK. We had friends visiting from Lancaster who were keen to try it so we booked an evening meal there – it’s very busy and even booking several weeks in advance, we couldn’t get the time we wanted on a Saturday evening.
We arrived a few minutes early and were asked to wait in the bar. We ordered drinks and I asked them to put it on our tab. Normally, this involves simply giving your name and maybe signing a bill. Here, I had to hand over a credit card which they put in a case and they then gave me the key to the case. This I did not like – leaving aside the fact the they obviously had a mechanism to open the case and so get to my card, the signal this sent was – “we don’t trust you” – not a good start to the evening.
We were shown to our table in the lower part of the restaurant, by the kitchens at the time we had booked. The menu is, I believe, standard across the chain – a selection of antipasti, pasta, and main courses with a couple of specials each night.
I choose the meat plate as a starter and it was top class – a selection of cured meats, mozzarella cheese and pecorino. Excellent quality ingredients – the ham was silky – and very nicely presented. The special winter vegetable soup looked good and was pronounced to be excellent.
I was delighted to see that black truffle risotto, one of my favourites, was on the menu. It’s quite hard to get this right – a strong stock or too much butter can overwhelm the delicate truffle flavour. The chef here obviously tried to avoid this here but they went the other way – it was nicely flavoured with truffle but it really was rather watery – it needed some cream or mascarpone, I think, to add a bit of richness. I’m not sure what rice was used with it – very small grains. Not a problem although I probably prefer larger grain rice. Others in our group were delighted with their main course pasta.
The atmosphere in the resto was good – lots of buzz with diners of all types and ages from couples to larger groups. Excellent service from Andrew, our waiter. It was pretty noisy though so if you prefer quiet conversation, this is not the place for you.
Would I recommend Jamie’s Italian – a definite maybe. I don’t think it is as good as Centotre along the road although it is probably a bit cheaper (we were about £30 each for 2 courses and 3 glasses of wine in Jamie’s). Nor is it nearly as good as Nonna’s on Morningside Road which, IMHO, is the best Italian resto in Edinburgh.
The evening visit confirmed my lunchtime impression is that Jamie’s is OK, especially for a chain – I wouldn’t rush back but wouldn’t refuse an invitation to eat there either. But they really should think about the poor impression that the credit card thing behind the bar presents – given the technology they have, there should be no problem in linking the drinks tab to a booking.
Apologies for the quality of the pics – the light was very poor and my phone flash is not up to much.