Jamie's Italian – a chain that impresses

I’ll let you into a secret. I dread the day that Scotland becomes like the USA with restaurant chains offering the same experience in every place you visit.

Sit down in an Outback steakhouse in Florida, or Illinois, and – unless you can see the view out the window – the experience is exactly the same. Same decor, same service, same food… You can feel a little disorientated, with no clue to your actual geographic location.

I much prefer discovering a small locally-owned restaurant which will offer me an experience and a cuisine that is unique. Increasingly that is difficult in the USA and, now, the chain restaurant business is expanding rapidly in the UK.

So that is why I have mixed feelings about Jamie’s Italian.

Maybe I am rationalising, but, I do think Jamie’s italian is a little different. In designing the restaurant they have gone out of their way to keep some of the character of the original building – right down to the black-and-white mosaic E&M from the famed local department store that was formerly in this building. So there is no danger of you losing your sense of geography.

The other thing that seems to be different is the focus on quality ingredients. After all, how could a restaurant with Jamie Oliver’s name on it, use anything but quality produce?

The restaurant is spread over two floors of the old department store, so it is quite spacious and I also like the fact that there are different table arrangements for different types of party. Smaller tables in some areas and, close to the servery, long wooden tables that took our party of eight with ease.

The restaurant is informal, like a diner. The waiting staff are not dressed in black and white. There are Jamie’s Italian linen napkins, but no starched white tablecloths. I like that informality.

The starters come on wooden planks. I chose the meat platter, which also includes cheeses, including a hard cheese with chilli jam and a superb buffalo mozzarella. Main courses include pastas, fish, chicken and rabbit, plus a burger and a steak option for those who “know what they like and like what they know”.

Yes, Jamie’s Italian is a chain. But, I dare to say it is a welcome addition to the Aberdeen’s dining scene.
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