Jamie’s Italian launched with the re-opening of the Assembly Rooms, on George Street, a couple of months ago. It has been doing brisk service since then, and today was no exception. The prime lunchtime slots at 12:30 and 1pm were entirely booked up, but they had availability at 12:45pm, which suited us nicely.
The décor has taken the classic stylings of the Assembly Rooms, given them a lick of red paint, and decked things out in a style that’s somewhat like an elegant grill room. With the considerable hubbub generated by full tables, it somewhat reminded me of one of the restaurants in Grand Central Terminal in New York. I’m not sure the best is being made of the surroundings, quite yet, but that should come in time.
The menus were large in size and extensive in scope, but not extensive enough to include soup, which was disappointing. We opted to share a selection of Italian breads, to start. To follow, Kim opted for the wild rabbit tagliolini, while I chose risotto, of the wild truffle variety.
Bread arrived promptly, and looked like a nice array. Impressive-looking olive oil and balsamic was poured. The selection was pretty fair, but was rather of unremarkable quality, and not a patch on the bread at the Timberyard, where we visited, yesterday.
Main courses arrived while we still toyed with the bread. Both looked good. Kim’s slow-cooked rabbit ragu with garlic & herbs, mascarpone and lemon was tasty, but the pasta was a little sticky and the ragu rather on the peppery side.
My risotto was good, with the initial truffle aroma highly enticing. It tap-danced on the edge of being over-seasoned, though, and was certainly plenty salty enough. The rice had some ooze, but it could have used a little more moisture, for my tastes. Overall, it was a good dish, but somewhat lacking as the decadent treat it could have been.
The meal was rounded out with extremely poor espresso. Over the time that we’ve been questing in Edinburgh, restaurant coffee has markedly improved, not least because a number of great cafes have been upping the ante, significantly. It was disappointing to see a return to the previous low standards, and a particular sin for an Italian restaurant to be committing.
So, Jamie’s Italian was a mixed bag. My risotto was definitely a little better than average, and I think the same can be said of the pasta dish. But the bread was underwhelming, and the service doesn’t feel quite right, yet. The place is going to be popular, partly because of its location in the splendid Assembly Rooms and partly because of the Jamie Oliver name. I’m not sure the marriage is made in heaven, though, as although there is some quality on display, this has far too much of the feel of a chain restaurant than the truly special dining experience that the surroundings demand.
Blythe scores Jamie’s Italian
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
Today’s questers were: Kim, Blythe
We ate: Italian bread selection; wild rabbit tagliolini, wild truffle risotto
We drank: water, espresso
We wore: distinctly autumnal coats
Total bill: c.£30