Tuesday 27 September 2016

To become... food: Jamie's Evening Favourites

Last week, we enjoyed a rare mid-week evening meal out as a family. We don't often go out to eat, particularly on a school night just as there's not a lot of time to get together and do whatever we need to before Ethan's bedtime routine kicks in.

So last Wednesday was a real treat. We were invited to try the new Jamie's Evening Favourites Menu - which offers three courses for just £18.95 per person from a selection of four to five dishes per course, Mon-Thurs after 6pm. Being fans of Jamie (I have most his cookery books and like the Hello Fresh service he's a part of), loving Italian food and needing a night off cooking duty, we couldn't wait to visit Jamie's Italian at Bullring, Birmingham.

We'd been just once before, some four or so years ago, and whilst we enjoyed the food and the atmosphere of the restaurant, we deemed it to be a slightly more pricey meal out than a trip to Ask, say, and just never had chance to go again. We also didn't have Ethan in tow back then.

I was keen to go back and enjoy the meal as it sounded great value and as mentioned, I really do like Jamie's approach to food.

From the moment we arrived, the staff couldn't do enough for us and it came across as genuine great customer service and nothing 'special' because of the review. Our waitress was Erica and she was great with Ethan, bringing him a 'Little Pack of Fun', patient with us being so tired and indecisive when choosing what we wanted and generally being really attentive.

We had a good look at the menu and ordered, requesting Ethan's meal to come with our starters to keep him occupied - and his hands out of my food!

I was impressed by Ethan's food - he went for the chicken lollipops with potatoes and every kids meal comes with a pot of salad which Ethan went for first and seemed to love delving into, plus a fruit juice included in the price.

In fact, the Jamie style of presentation - food on wooden slabs and arranged in cups and serving bowls - is perfect for children as it encourages them to dig in and enjoy their food. I was so pleased with how keen Ethan was and his polished off his salad before heading onto the chicken and potatoes. In fact, he'd almost demolished the lot by the time we finished our starters.

Hubs opted for the deli meats platter, which had a really good selection of salami, ham, cheese, chilli jam and olives. It was presented well and was a generous starter and great for those who like 'picky' type food.

I chose Jamie's take on breaded mushrooms with garlic mayo, and these were giant oyster mushrooms thinly sliced, lightly battered and super crispy. They tasted really different and the mayo was perhaps the most garlic-y I've ever had - which to me, is a good thing!

For our mains, hubs went for Jamie's burger, which comes with cheese, tomato and the kitchen special sauce, inside a brioche bun. Hubs always says you can judge a place on the quality of their burger and this one was huge. Sadly, I didn't sneak a bite but seeing how Ste demolished it, I'd say it went down well.

He ordered fries on the side, with a herb sprinkle I believe and it wasn't until we got the bill that we realised that within the Evening Favourites Menu, the burger comes alone. Not a big deal, as it is a decent size, but I guess it's not what you usually expect and the chips added £3.90 to hubs' £18.95 set menu price.

I chose the prawn linguine and it was cooked to perfection. The sauce was full of flavour, not watery, and there were plenty of prawns - no hunting around to find them. I couldn't actually finish it, despite it being really tasty, that's how generous the helping was.

Seeing as we were here to try out the whole menu, we had to squeeze in dessert. We ordered chocolate ice cream for Ethan (desserts for kids are just £1.50 I think), hubs went for the melting praline pudding and I decided to give the tiramisu pavlova a go.

Both were gooey and oh so chocolatey, great for someone like me, but it was a real task to try and fit it all in. I enjoyed mine but would probably try the white chocolate cheesecake instead next time.

We'd all been really thirsty so we just drank tap water, aside from a glass of prosecco I treated myself to, and when the bill came, it totalled £54.80. Considering the three course we'd had and two course for Ethan, and the quality of the food and the great atmosphere, I think this was a really good value meal. We've had just one or two courses for more than that in other places that we would deem to be more mainstream than Jamie's Italian so this was a really reasonable amount for a truly lovely evening.

We left with full bellies and a sleepy son, sure that we would be returning again in the near future (no doubt to try some of the rest of the Evening Favourites (there's a good section to choose from to suit what you might fancy) or the Super Lunch menu (£10.95 for two courses, £12.95 for three, Mon-Fri 12-6pm).

* We received a voucher to part-pay for our meal for the purposes of this review but all opinions are my own, as always.


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