I've been a big fan of Jamie Oliver ever since the early days of "The Naked Chef". So naturally the first time I went to Bluewater and noticed he had a restaurant there, Jamie's Italian, I've wanted to go. Now I'm not uber-keen on Bluewater or shopping malls in general - I find them a bit claustrophobic when they're busy, because people just don't care whether they walk into you or not, they're walking in a straight line and if you don't dodge out of their way, well it's your own damn fault. Not to mention the sensory overload from all the stuff, the stuff, the stuff!
But Bluewater has one saving grace, at least for me. It has a ton of nice places to eat - Wahaca, Loch Fyne, Yo! Sushi, Leon, Giraffe, Carluccio's, Ed's Easy Diner, ASK Italian, Five Guys (yes, Five Guys has made it across the pond), and loads more. Frankly, if it wasn't for that fact, I wouldn't bother going, because it's a long way to go from where I live. However...
Like I said, we went to Jamie's Italian, but the reason we went there is because I had signed up a good while ago to the Jamie's Italian Gold Club. I got a little golden card with my name on it in the post and that has lain dormant in my wallet since I received it. Because of this membership, I get emails every once in a while with new offers, new menu items etc. most of which I tend to ignore simply because I know I'm not going there any time soon and I refuse to tease myself in that way.
The other week I received just such a missive containing a birthday offer for me. I won't spoil the surprise by saying what was in it. Follow along with the story.
We rolled up at Jamie's around noon and I showed them my Gold Club card as we went in. As soon as I gave the card to Eduardo, our waiter, he quickly procured a free appetiser each, the Porcini Mushroom Arancini. Lovely little balls of mushroomy rice breaded and deep-fried, then placed in a nice dollop of a creamy white sauce with snippets of parsley.
|Rosie trying the Arancini.|
Then came the good bit. As promised in my email, because it was nearly my birthday, along came an ice cold bottle of Prosecco and four glasses, free, gratis, and on the house.
|Amy sampling the booze.|
Amy ordered the Margherita pizza (£8.50) which was so long it hung over the edge of the table.
For Rosie, we ordered her the Chicken lollipops from the kids' menu. Grilled chicken pieces on wooden skewers accompanied by hedgehog potatoes (four hot baked new potatoes coated in butter with little nutty sprinkles on top) and a salad in a jar with dressing on the side, so you can add the dressing to the jar, close the lid and shake it up. Rosie, of course, being three years old, decided to just deconstruct everything and that's OK. She was happy.
I was unsure what to get because it all looked so damn good, but I finally plumped for the Squid & Mussel Spaghetti Nero. It looks freaky-deaky but tastes amazing.
|The black colour comes from adding squid ink to the spaghetti.|
|Funky Chips, which come with a sliver of garlic and a sprinkle of rosemary|
So there we were, stuffed to the gills and getting happily tiddly on Prosecco. Prosecco, of course, does not last long between three adults, so I ordered a pint of Jamie's Draught beer. Nice stuff.
Just when we thought we couldn't fit any more delicious grub into our fat tums, out came this...
Let's face it, Jamie's italian, despite being a chain restaurant, is pretty darn cool. Even the restrooms are equipped with fantastic old-fashioned Thomas Crapper toilets!
As we were sitting there I looked up at the shelves to see that the Prosecco we were drinking was £17 a bottle, and we had a free one!
All in all I cannot find fault with this place. However, I do recommend signing up to the Gold Club because you get a free appetizer when you show it, and the birthday Prosecco was a wonderful added bonus. In the end, we paid £52 for a meal that would have cost £75 without the Gold card.
I really wish I could have stayed there all afternoon. Eduardo really did a fantastic job of looking after us, and I cannot wait till next time.