Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Jamie’s Italian – Covent Garden, London

Posted on: Monday 10 October 2011

‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ Samuel Johnson

I was delayed by Hurricane Irene in New York for two days and my direct flight London was rescheduled to one connecting via Amsterdam. Thank goodness I arrived in time to attend the wedding but I was reduced to just Saturday in London.

We missed the wedding of dear friends earlier this year in Australia. They have since moved to London and I had lunch with the newlyweds at Jamie’s Italian.

The flagship Covent Garden restaurant is spacious and lively. Seasonal produce are stacked in crates by the entrance, fresh pasta is handmade at the front, a bench is laden with crusty loaves of bread and the dining room features a charcuterie counter with legs of prosciutto di Parma dangling on hooks.

White tiles with black accents line the walls, Jamie Oliver branded products and cookbooks are neatly displayed on shelves, and wooden tables are matched to red lacquered chairs. Patrons sang a jovial rendition of ‘happy birthday’ when a cake with candles was delivered to a nearby table by staff.

The menu is divided into nibbles, antipasti, pasta, secondi and sides. As I browsed the menu, I could hear Jamie Oliver’s distinctive Essex accent reading it to me! We picked our courses between convivial conversations.

Mr M ordered crispy squid as an appetiser. Lightly floured and served with ‘really garlicky mayo’, a squeeze of lemon freshened the tender tentacles.

Mrs M and I had a crispy courgette flower each. Stuffed with four cheeses, lemon and mint, the golden zucchini flower was drenched in a puddle of olive and tomato sauce. I prefer battered to crumbed but it was rich and tangy.

Mr and Mrs M both selected main courses with squid ink. Mr M had scallop and squid ink spaghetti with chilli, parsley, anchovies, wine and capers. The snowy scallops contrasted with the black pasta. I twirled a few strands around my fork and it was deliciously briny.

Night on a plate, the crab and squid ink risotto had a mound of shredded crab meat and ‘crunchy herby breadcrumbs’.

A beautiful lemon colour, my bucatini carbonara was coated with egg and parmesan and dotted with pancetta and leek. The slippery buccatini is hollow in the middle and it was a smoky and simple lunch.

Mr M was full but the ladies welcomed the dolci menu with glee! A decadent treat, Mrs M selected a slice of chocolate and espresso tart with glazed figs and orange crème fraîche.

I defaulted to my favourite of tiramisù. On a rustic plate, the wedge of Italian dessert was layered sideways and covered with lemon zest.

It was lovely to spend the afternoon with Aussie friends, strolling the cobbled streets of ye olde London.

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