Saturday, 11 February 2012

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, London

I've always been a huge Jamie Oliver fan. My first cookery book was 'The Return of the Naked Chef' and these were some of the first recipes I tried. His risotto recipe is engraved in my memory I've used it so many times. I've always enjoyed his philosophy of creating dishes with great flavours. When I found out I was going to Jamie's first restaurant Fifteen as birthday treat, I was extremely excited!

Fifteen is situated near Old Street tube station in North London. It's down a side street and seems a little off the beaten path. Upstairs is the trattoria and you go down stairs to the restaurant. When you walk in your eyes are greeted by an elegantly styled restaurant with an eye for detail without being in anyway pretentious. The open kitchen is a great touch as you're able to see the apprentices at work. Fifteen was set up by Jamie Oliver to give unemployed young people opportunities to work in the industry and profits go to the Jamie Oliver Foundation.

We were brought our menus, which change daily, and the waitress went to check what I could have which was gluten free. As the kitchen was open, I saw her hand it to the chef who then scribbled on what I could have and what they could modify which was great to see. The waitress did bring bread over for my girlfriend and it would have been nice to have been offered something as an alternative like olives, but it's a minor niggle.

Quite simply, the food was stunning.

I started with a prosciutto, artichoke, savoy cabbage and parmesan salad which just let the quality of the ingredients really stand out. My girlfriend had the Burrata (a gooey mozzarella) with char-grilled radicchio trevisano and honey glazed walnuts. I tried some of the mozzarella which was beautifully gooey and tasty. The second course was the absolute stand out dish. A risotto with 6 hour braised shin of scotch beef. The beef just absolutely melted in the mouth, full of rich parmesan and then lifted by a hint of lemon and parsley. It was a big portion for a second course, but there was no way I was leaving any! My girlfriend had the beetroot gnocchi which also received rave reviews (although I'm sure she was a little jealous)!

Prosciutto Di San Daniele with Shaved Italian Stem Artichoke, Savoy Cabbage and Parmesan
Burrata (A Gooey Mozzarella from Puglia) with Char-Grilled Radicchio Trevisano and Honey Glazed Walnuts
Risotto (Vialone Nano) with 6-Hour Braised Shin of Scotch Beef with Flat Leaf Parsley, Lemon and Parmesan
Main courses equally didn't disappoint. My venison was beautifully cooked, dark and carmaelised on the outside and blushing pink in the middle, lifted by little bursts from the pomegranate seeds. The lentils served with it were again perfectly cooked but lacked flavour. The rare breed pork with potato and olive 'al forno' and a cavlo nero pesto was delicious. The pork succulent and juicy, the potato's creamy and pesto bursting with flavour, a really great dish.
Dorset Venison Polpette (Slow Cooked in Sicilian Tomatoes, Chilli, and Dry Porcini) with Lentils Di Castelluccio, Swiss Chard and Chilli Dressing
Pete Gott's Rare-Breed Pork with Potato and Olive 'Al Forno', Watercress and Cavlo Nero Pesto
My girlfriend always makes the mistake of ordering chocolate fondant for dessert when it's on a menu. She makes an amazing chocolate fondant but 'likes to compare'. It looked perfect to me but whether it lived up to her standards, I'm not sure! My lime pannacotta was certainly the best pannacotta I've ever had, silky smooth and served with a zingy lemon sorbet and crispy slices of caramelised orange. A perfect combination on the palette.
Lime Pannacotta with Lemon Sorbet
Amedei Dark Chocolate Fondant with Caramelized Blood Orange and Creme Fraiche
Definitely one of my all time favourite dining experiences - I'd go back just for that risotto!