When my friend and I made the Christmas (read: someone-end-this-godforsaken-year) resolution to treat ourselves to a “classy night out” in Edinburgh as a heartfelt gift to one another, I can’t say I anticipated being drunk at Jamie’s Italian some hours later. I don’t remember anticipating getting on an enormous swing, laughing at tiny dogs, or realising that my drunken persona is apparently a much-repressed kleptomaniac either.
Anyway. My friend and I had spent an enjoyably romantic evening at Edinburgh’s Christmas markets. We had either gin or cider (I can’t remember…), got on the enormous swing, and milled around looking at tiny wooden ornaments.
We entered Jamie’s Italian at peak dinner time and were quickly seated at the bar where desserts were assembled, under a beautiful row of dried chillies and garlic cloves, somewhat like a row of vines hiding a beautiful grotto: in this case, a cheesecake, and several bowls of amoretti biscuits (take note of the latter).
Our waitress turned up quickly and was familiar enough with the wine list (and our obvious student budget) to recommend a second row bottle of red. Again, staying with our tenets of ‘treating ourselves’, we went for the bottle of wine that wasn’t the cheapest.
As for our food, we ordered the World’s Best Olives as a starter. This seemed to us a bold claim, but as we were reasonably sober at this point, we were sure that world-class chef Jamie Oliver had more than the prerequisite amount of authority to make such a claim. We awaited the World’s Best Olives with bated breath.
The World’s Best Olives came beautifully presented in a silver dish, laid gently atop a bed of crushed ice. In our reverie over this piece of culinary masterwork, we managed to finish half the bottle of wine. Between the olives and when our entrees came out, I noticed the room become a pleasant, seemingly Italian red blur, and the surrounding conversations blur as well, only adding to the overall pleasant and high-ceilinged ambiance of the room. In short, we were having a great time.
Some time later our entrees arrived. I had ordered a porcini mushroom ravioli, partially because I’m pretentious enough to pretend to appreciate the unique flavour of porcini mushrooms, and partially because Bella Swan has mushroom ravioli in Twilight. I enjoyed this, though I’ve never seen a ravioli dish with individual pasta pieces the size of my palm. Most alarming.
I think we ordered dessert (Savannah, did we order dessert?), which I’ll assume was delicious, considering I don’t have any lingering complaints or nightmares about it…Good on you, Jamie Oliver.
By the end of our night, we were both appropriately fed and watered, or, fed enough to mop up the after-effects of how overly “watered” (read: wined) we were. That said, I felt as though we needed one extra dose of Christmas cheer to really cap off our night. So, after looking around a few times to check that the proverbial coast was clear, I deftly pocketed two amoretti biscuits for the road. We held onto our procured treats, leaving the restaurant victoriously.
I don’t know how to explain this sudden urge to possess a few amoretti biscuits, which I don’t necessarily like that much, other than my behaviour represented something like a raccoon, attracted to a shiny piece of metal, or a particularly interesting shred of garbage. I felt triumphant when I had these biscuits in my hand. What now, Jamie Oliver.
In summary: Drunk or sober, I can’t see why any ‘foodie’ would find fault with Jamie’s Italian. The décor (dead chilli peppers and ambient lighting) made for a pleasant atmosphere in which to enjoy carb-heavy (thank God), salty (debatably nice) Italian food. Was it thoroughly authentic? There was a burger on the menu, so I’ll go with no. Was it nice enough? Definitely. Can you get porcini ravioli and the world’s best olives in your local Italian “joint”? Probably not. All in all, this was an enjoyable evening and a reasonably nice dinner. Worth the price, worth the hangover, worth the time it took to get out of St Andrews (a substantial amount of time, please note).