Last night we got in the car and headed north up the M6 at rush hour – I thought Mr Rigg had lost the plot, I am not a good passenger in traffic, especially motorway traffic. I had been told we were going out for dinner, but where we were going I had no clue. I thought it must be somewhere pretty damned good if Mr Rigg was brave enough to make me sit in motorway traffic for it.
By now it was clear we were going to Liverpool, but I couldn’t think of anywhere there I wanted to go for dinner. Mr Rigg assured me 2 million percent that I wanted to go to this place – I thought he’d gone mad and clearly mis-heard a restaurant name and we were going to end up at some totally random place. But 2 million percent is a lot to be sure by.
It turns out we were going to Jamie’s Italian – I must confess I didn’t know there was one in Liverpool – and I didn’t realise where we were going until we turned a corner and there it was. Mr Rigg came through.
We sat at a booth, sipping on homemade lemonade covered in crushed ice, and munching on ‘Italian nachos’ whilst we tried to make up our mind on what we wanted to eat.
Italian nachos, it turns out, are deep-fried, crispy ravioli, filled with cheese and a small dish of spicy tomato sauce to dip them. Pretty neat and I was impressed how many we got – I think I was expecting about four!
Now there was so much on this menu that I wanted to try, so it was a matter of knocking off the few things that I didn’t want to eat, and seeing what was left. Our waiter (who was utterly fab, knew so much about the food, and genuinely spoke like he’d tried everything on the menu and probably had) looked a little shocked as I ordered four starters to share.
My appetite shouldn’t be underestimated. Plus, I’ve been busy stretching my belly after our Cornish weekend. We had the creamy Burrata with chilli, mint and zesty lemon – this was one of my favourite dishes, it was lovely the fresh zingy lemon and mint, and the cheese was so rich and silky.
We also had the artisan meat board of English boar and venison salami, sliced nice and thinly and laid out on a square of brown paper atop a board. I like this kind of rustic presentation, even if wooden boards are to be found everywhere in restaurants these days. Again, top quality simple produce.
Our other two dishes that we shared as starters, were a bowl of crispy polenta chips, seasoned with rosemary and Parmesan. I really wanted to try these as polenta is one of those ingredients I want to learn how to cook properly as I’ve only ever had bad experiences with it. These crispy chips were delicious and up there with the Burrata as my favourite dish of the night.
The final dish was a crispy courgette flower, stuffed with cheese, lemon and mint and sitting in a tomato sauce. We’ve had quite a lot of squash flowers at the allotment and I’ve always wanted to try stuffing and frying them, but never got round to it. So it was nice to try it, and it was lovely with the crispy batter, soft filling, and a tiny courgette still attached.
For our main course Mr Rigg had a small bowl of their spaghetti Bolognese - which I secretly wanted to steal and eat all of myself, it was so good. The flavour was incredible, another of those dishes you wish you could recreate at home when making Bolognese yourself.
I nearly chose the buffalo ricotta ravioli, but felt I’d already eaten quite a lot of cheese. So instead I chose the risotto Milanese, a saffron risotto we often make at home. I’ve had bad experiences ordering risotto’s in restaurants, but I felt it must be good at Jamie’s.
It came with that incredible golden yellow colour that saffron imparts, a creamy texture, lots of flavour, and in its centre sat a large roasted bone marrow.
This is something I’ve not tried before, and to be honest I was a little scared of the idea, but the bone marrow seemed to have been mixed with lemon and herbs and breadcrumbs and roasted – in short, it was pretty tasty.
Dessert was ice cream, a mixture of double chocolate and salted caramel for me, and double chocolate and honeycomb for Mr Rigg - we don’t stray far from our favourites when it comes to desserts. Certainly I am not adventurous and dessert for me means ice cream or something chocolatey.
It was a lovely surprise to be taken here for dinner, it’s a fab restaurant, there was a great buzz from everyone eating and chatting, our waiter was brilliant and possibly the best waiter we’ve ever had, and the food was tasty and fresh and beautifully cooked. I’m looking forward to going back.