It is a really rare treat for us to go out for dinner during the week, due to the busy nature of our weekdays and also how bad we are at arranging babysitters! So, it was with excitement, that we left our little two with their Grandpa and headed off to Oxford to try out Jamie’s Italian and their new Evening Meal Deal.
It was the perfect kind of Spring evening for a night out too. Oxford is gorgeous at this time of year; with the streets full of blossom, a warm breeze in the air, and locals and tourists all milling around between the bars and restaurants of the city centre. It takes on an almost Mediterranean atmosphere; the ideal night for heading out to find some good Italian food.
We arrived at Jamie’s Italian just before 7:30pm and the restaurant was already busy, which I always think is an encouraging sign midweek. Our waitress welcomed us warmly and showed us to a lovely table in the window. Perfect for a bit of people watching outside too! The restaurant has a great atmosphere, very friendly and buzzy, with happy background chatter and tempting garlicy scents from the kitchen.
The Evening Meal Deal has recently been introduced by Jamie’s and runs from Monday to Thursday from 6pm, offering three courses for £20. I had expected that the menu choices might be quite limited for the Meal Deal, but was pleasantly surprised to find the almost all of the menu was included in the offer. I usually order two courses when we go out for dinner, chosing to have either a starter or a desert, depending on where we go! With chosing three courses, I did bear this in mind when ordering, and went for some of the lighter options on the menu. Andrew had none of these concerns, and his only dilemma was the decision between a Jamie’s burger and the turkey Milanese!
We ordered cocktails whilst we browsed the menu, I chose my favourite, a mojito, and Andrew tried a blackberry mule. Both were delicious (I did try a small slurp of his…sweet and gingery, and based on the classic Moscow mule!) and the mojito was incredibly refreshing with plenty of fresh mint. Our lovely waitress took our order for starters and main course; I chose the cured meat plank and a super food salad, and A went for Cornish crab bruschetta and the turkey Milanese.
Both arrived quickly and were really well presented. A’s bruschetta had plenty of crab meat on top of the bread, and was scattered with fresh fennel and a decent amount of aioli. I love mixed board style starters, so the cured meat plank was perfect for me; like chosing all your favourites from the deli counter! The buffalo mozzarella and olives were particularly good, and made a nice contrast with the cured meats.
The main courses were presented in a similarly attractive way (I adored the blue and white plates, and may even have Googled them when I got home). Andrew’s turkey Milanese arrived at the table smelling of hot butter and herbs and I instantly wished I had ordered the same. He also ordered a side of spiced fries, which were lovely and crisp with a scattering of fresh herbs and sliced red chilli. My super food salad included avocado, sprouting broccoli, beetroot, and I added an optional extra of hot smoked salmon. All elements of the salad were lovely, but I was not so sure about the dressing. Whilst it was delicious, and nicely spiced with harissa, the ingredients were a little bit soggy towards the bottom of the bowl. I’m sure this is just a personal preference, but it might have been a nice option to serve the dressing separately.
The staff at Jamie’s have found just the right balance with their service; it was not too rushed, but there were plenty of waiting staff around if you needed anything. It was also noticeable how they made time to chat with each table, making the whole experience feel more personal, and very much like a local restaurant rather than part of a chain.
The desserts were great too; I knew as soon as we looked at the menu that A would choose the vin santo tiramisu. He fell in love with the dessert when we travelled around Italy one summer, ordering one almost every day of the four weeks we were there! It would be fair to say that he is an experienced judge of a traditional Italian tiramisu, and he loved it, so well done Jamie’s! I opted for a yoghurt panna cotta, which was a really light and refreshing way to end the meal. It came with a sharp blackcurrant and limoncello compote, which went perfectly with the panna cotta. I really fancy having a go at making something similar at home, and I’m sure Mia and Joe would love it too!
Our trip to Jamie’s was great fun, and a very positive experience. I can understand now why there are sometimes queues for a table there, particularly at weekends! It’s great food, at competitive prices, and with really friendly service. I expect we will be returning very soon.
Jamie’s Italian kindly invited me along as their guest to try out the Evening Meal Deal menu, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.