I absolutely love working in Cardiff city centre – I am lucky enough to work for a company whose offices are based above Waterstone’s bookshop on The Hayes, slap bang in the middle of all the action. I love seeing everything opening up for the day in the mornings, I love being ‘in the thick of things’ so to speak, but most of all, I love having the pick of where and what to eat for lunch every single day!
Last Wednesday, on what was the hottest day of the year so far, I managed to bag myself a seat in the scorching sunshine outside Jamie’s Italian, to try out the restaurant’s new ‘Super Lunch Menu‘. Now I know that some of you might be reading that and thinking “Wait. Of all the places in town this food blogger could be eating lunch, she chooses chain restaurant Jamie’s Italian!? What!?” – I hear you. But, let me explain.
I have really always been a big fan of Jamie’s Italian (and his other restaurants, like London’s Barbecoa) for one simple reason: ethics. Jamie Oliver’s personal commitment to only ever using free range, higher welfare British meat, and sustainable and ethically produced ingredients in all of his restaurants means that I can wander into any of his places, any time I want and order anything I want without worrying about it, or having to do loads of research online beforehand. It just makes things so much easier!
And so back to the new ‘Super Lunch Menu‘, the reason for this blog post. The ‘super’ new offer is available between 12 – 6pm Monday – Friday, and offers diners a selected menu of starters, mains and desserts priced at £11.95 for two courses or £13.95 for three. It’s a very good price, but of course the question remains – is it very good food?
I’m pleased to say that based on what I tried this week, the answer is yes. I took my mum and my other half, Pete, and between us, we managed to try a decent cross-section of what’s on offer. To start with, my mum chose a slow-roasted cherry tomato bruschetta with whipped ricotta, basil & extra virgin olive oil; Pete went for the Fritto Misto (fried sustainable fish & squid tossed in fennel-spiced flour with garlic & lemon aioli). Both portions were generous and tasty.
I am obsessed with asparagus at the moment (and it’s in season for a while yet) so I went for the Evesham asparagus with a truffled & fried free-range egg served with shavings of Parmesan – this dish incurs a £2 supplement, but it is SO worth it! I could eat this every single day.
Next it was onto the mains, and by now I was starting to turn pink on my shoulders thanks to the scorching Cardiff sun – a rare treat indeed. My mum (who is always a sucker for a good sarnie) went for ‘Gennaro’s Chicken Club’ – a brioche bun stuffed with chargrilled, marinated free-range chicken thigh, crispy pancetta, spicy ‘nduja mayo, fontal cheese, tomato & rocket. There was no chance of eating this without the help of cutlery!
Pete had the only dud dish of the afternoon, a big bowl of freshly made pasta tossed through a not-so-spicy tomato & ‘nduja sauce with sprouting broccoli & cherry tomatoes – I tried a forkful and we both agreed that despite what it offered in sheer quantity, it lacked interest and flavour.
I opted for the veggie Caesar salad – instead of chicken this included shavings of raw cauliflower, with crunchy romaine lettuce, red chicory, ciabatta croutons, and red onion with a garlicky yoghurt dressing, veggie Parmesan, toasted hazelnuts, chervil & sweet basil. I loved this healthy veggie twist on what is usually a very meaty, and very fattening salad; I’d definitely order this again.
Whilst my mum opted for a tap water with her lunch, I enjoyed a sharp strawberry lemonade, and Pete treated himself to a quaffable lunchtime glass of house white. All together, our entire bill, for two courses each with drinks, came in at just under £47, which is great value, especially when you consider the ethical credentials I mentioned earlier.
I’ll definitely be recommending the Jamie’s Italian ‘Super Lunch Menu’ to my friends, especially those that work in the city centre with me. On a sunny day, I can’t think of a better way to spend my lunch hour than sitting on the Hayes eating a great-value Italian lunch and enjoying a quick glass of wine!