It’s no secret that I’m partial to a good Italian dish. In fact, if I had to make an ultimate decision and eat at the same restaurant for the rest of my life it would have to contain a menu filled with Italian cuisine; no ifs, no buts. I shouldn’t be thinking about pizza, pasta, bread specialities and fresh cuts of meat after a hefty indulgence on holiday but that can’t be avoided when looking back on my complimentary visit to Jamie’s Italian on a pleasant, sunny day last month.
Situated in the centre of Leeds on Park Row, right beside the main attractions and just a short distance from the station, I even surprised myself when I realised I’d never eaten in there before. I’d heard plenty of positives but this is the first time I saw for myself just what all the fuss was about. Turns out, it’s a definite new favourite of mine, and one I’m planning on making the go to for satisfying grub and celebrations. The rustic interior with dark wood and subtle hints of simple colour was both inviting and relaxing, and the food was on another level of scrumptious!
I took my mum along as my partner for the day after a busy day at work and she was grateful for such a treat (you know the whole boasting of ‘my daughter is a blogger and I’m gonna check in on Facebook to make out I’m some sort of VIP exclusive’ sort of behaviour). Whisked away to our table right away we opted for the super lunch menu which gave us the option of two courses for £11.95 or £13.95 for three courses – both incredibly inexpensive and great value; running weekdays from Monday to Friday 12pm-6pm. Being an advocate of the go big or go home motto, we both went for the three course but couldn’t begin on an entirely empty stomach – first up, we just had to order in those cocktails.
I went for the Espresso Martini because I’ve become a real coffee lover lately and thankfully seem to have moved past the shaky effect it used to give me! With both a mix of Kahlua and Kimbo you could taste the sweet bitterness of the natural coffee and the tang of the vodka and liqueur creating a killer creamy combination. My mum settled for the Passion Fruit Royale as she does love her quenching flavours and she was every bit delighted. Served in a tall glass and rich in orangey yellow tones it was more representative of a bucks fizz or a cava but amongst her enjoyment she let me have a sip and I can confirm it was as deliciously zesty as expected. They lasted us for the entire duration of our gradually expanding stomachs so a little definitely went a long way!
Reading the menu I knew it was going to be a tough choice because despite it being a limited selection, the variety ticked all the appetising boxes. Starting off with what we know best, we both went for the bruschetta; mine a Tomato Bruschetta and mum’s a Silky Pate Bruschetta. Now let me start off with proclaiming my love for bread; you really can’t go wrong whether it be plain or dressed up in ingredients but this was seriously the most incredible bread based delicacy. I savoured every flavoursome bite, from the crispiness of the slice to the pairing of light ricotta and juicy tomatoes combined. As did my mum, in particular she complimented the tastiness of the smoky pancetta ham and the overall presentation. Let’s just say there were plenty of mmmm sounds all round. It may have looked too appealing to eat but I never wanted it to end once I’d tucked in!
Moving on to mains, our eyes grew wider and our mouth’s watered before the plates (or boards that specifically fit into the rustic theme) even reached our magnified viewpoint. Once again there were plenty of options to choose from but the Gennaro’s Chicken Club struck me right away. Essentially a chargrilled chicken burger with pancetta, spicy ‘nduja mayo, cheese, tomato & rocket, stuffed in a brioche bun. Calorific but irresistible! So amazing in fact that the guy and his wife sat on the next table tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what I’d ordered because it looked delicious. Of course I informed him it didn’t just look palatable but tasted even better; effortlessly tender, the chicken cooked to perfection, and the sharpness of the mayo being a definite highlight. He took my word for it and joined me in savouring every mouthful. Influencing and making friends, I’m all about that life! Although my all time favourite sweet potato fries were available to order as a separate side along with it, I fancied the ordinary fries in traditional style of burger and chips and I was more than happy with my decision as they were thin and crispy on the outside with soft and fluffy potato inside just how I like them!
Mum’s signature restaurant order is always steak and always requested as well done. Although the Steak & Fries on the menu is advertised as marinated skirt steak flash grilled (aka quickly cooked up), the chefs were on hand to ensure she received it just how she likes it – and that she did. From the very moment she cut into she knew it was going to be up there with one of the most succulent steaks she’s ever encountered. The super thin cut contributed towards the divine softness, melt-in-the-mouth kind of texture and the added garlic butter was the cherry on top, especially for someone like my mum who would bathe in garlic until heartburn took over. She’s the fussiest person I know when it comes to red meat so for her to not have a bad word to say is an achievement in itself (she even devoured the side of homemade coleslaw!). I also had a cheeky taste and was seriously impressed; from someone who always chooses chicken as a safe meat option – I’d certainly be persuaded to move over to the red side if this was frequently served up!
For the price, the portion sizes were pretty decent and you could most certainly be fulfilled from just a main never mind a starter and a dessert on top of that. By the time our desserts arrived we were about to burst but never too stuffed for an epic chocolate brownie with rich chocolate sauce, salted caramel popcorn gelato & caramelised popcorn. Yes, popcorn *insert heart eye emoji as desired*. As huge chocolate lovers, mum and I both went for the same. You could definitely tell it had been baked fresh, no sign of over chewiness, just pure soft squishy consistency with an endearing sweetness. We demolished every last speckle and had no regrets.
I think I speak for us both here when I say I honestly don’t think we’ve enjoyed a meal like that in a long time. I can’t fault anything – from the impeccable and attentive service, warm welcome, constant check ups to the luscious food, the moreish tastes of our favourite come to life and the standard of appearance! I’d recommend for all: a quick bite at lunch time, an after work meal or even a place for a family birthday meal. It’s my brother’s birthday next month and guess where me and mum have both requested to go? He also worships his grub so I don’t think but whatever the answer, I’ll be returning without a doubt.
Have you ever visited a Jamie’s Italian in your located area before?
*this post is in collaboration with Jamie’s Italian Leeds but all words, thoughts, photography and current hunger is my own. Thanks so much to Jack for inviting me along!