Saturday Kitchen is rarely my weekend food inspiration but this week, watching Antonio Carluccio cook a stunning plate of tajarini al tartufo (in Umbria, not BBC television centre) resulted in an almost unbearable craving for truffle pasta.
Sunday lunch with my Mum was a perfect excuse to seek out that carby treat. Meeting at Charing Cross somewhat limited our choice of venue so we plumped for Jamie's Italian. We'd eaten at the Covent Garden restaurant before and both had pretty good salads, we were keen to sample some pasta dishes. Happily, like before, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the ingredients and the execution of the dishes.
I started with the bruschetta with ricotta and 'oven dried' tomatoes. This was really lovely, a generous smear of fresh creamy ricotta on some crisp ciabatta, good quality olive oil and a sprinkling of baby basil and rosemary. However I have a couple of issues with the menu descriptions. The tomatoes are clearly not oven dried and there was not even the merest hint of garlic (ciabatta supposedly rubbed with). Still, I really enjoyed it.
Also visible in the above picture are the green olives from Puglia, declared on the menu to be 'the world's best olives on ice.' Totally annoyingly over the top wording but I had these last time I came and to be honest, these, along with the olives I had a 500, are the best olive's I've ever had. Though I do not claim to have tried every olive in the world. I'd be very surprised if even the great Jamie himself had.
My Mum had the aranici, they looked stunning. My main, the very reason I was here, wild truffle tagliatelli was very good. The pasta was a tad over al dente but by no means disastrously so. The silky sauce of butter, Parmesan, nutmeg and truffle shavings really hit the spot, no mistruths on the menu with this dish. Should I find myself without a reservation for one of London's finer Italian eateries and craving pasta, I'd consider Jamie's Italian to be a reliable option.
Mum's spag bol hit the spot as did 2 americanos with hot milk. Worth noting that the service is slightly irksome. The wait staff seem to have been instructed to strike up conversation as frequently as possible. It's a bit try hard for my liking. Otherwise, I'm really very impressed with the place. At £20 a head it's reasonable and the Upper St Martin's Lane regeneration has dramatically improved the area.
11 Upper St Martin's Lane