The idea of doing the odd nice thing to stay sane is fortunately still with us in these ‘interesting times’.
And during this seemingly endless slow-burn towards Christmas, there’s a rather spiffing seasonal little treat to be had once you’ve finished shuffling through The Lanes, or queued to collect your missed deliveries from online behemoths.
The bold statement of ‘Nobody does Christmas like Jamie’ is going a bit far (he’ll never beat my nan’s roasties), but the Turkey Twizzler slayer has done a pretty good job.
After a tough 2018 there’s still a lot to like about Jamie’s Italian restaurants.
The quality is there, delivered with a splash of style, and the prices haven’t risen much since the chain’s inception in 2008.
Jamie Christmas Lunches and Christmas Feasts come in a number of shapes and sizes from £16.95-£34.95, and are good value for this time of the year.
The Antipasti Plank is as good as I remembered, and one of the few culinary occasions it’s acceptable to eschew a china plate for a piece of wood. Fennel and pork is always a great combination and guaranteed the Tuscan fennel salami was the king of this particular platter of cold-cuts, although the lively salami piccante will be a hit with those of a fierier disposition. Elsewhere on our plank the creamy stracciatella cheese was a divine addition to this fun and varied sharing starter.
A slow-roasted porchetta and dry-aged sirloin steak, were two mighty impressive mains.
The gloriously unctuous pork belly was stuffed with apricot and sage, in a celeriac purée and apple sauce. The steak (for a £5 supplement), was slathered in whipped truffle butter and backed up by Portobello mushrooms which were as meaty and juicy as the beef.
The accompanying Christmas veg were also on-point, smashing sprouts and chilli-flecked roast spuds. Our puddings further cranked up the Crimbo factor, without resorting to the usual suspects. The Zuccotto Di Panettone was stuffed with vanilla ice cream, candied fruit, nuts and beautifully boozy maraschino cherries, whilst the perfect Christmas Pavlova had a similarly seasonal vibe with amarena cherries and orange zest. Bellissimo!
All of the above dishes, and quite a few more, are available until December 30.
By Steve Holloway