Fifteen - Jamie Oliver's restaurant
The excitement about eating at Fifteen starts even before you get there. Jamie Oliver's bubbly recorded voice surprises you when you call to make a reservation as he explains the concept of the restaurant. Fifteen was been conceived as a training ground kitchen for handpicked disadvantaged teenagers who Jamie thinks have the potential to be next generation star chefs. Once Jamie signs of with a characteristic panache - "big love, J" - you speak to an equally warm and enthusiastic hostess who makes and confirms your reservation.
By the time you arrive, the expectation is already set very high. Fifteen is located in the north east part of the city, a short walk from the Old Street tube station. It forms a triangle of sorts with Clerkenwell and Islington just north of the city centre. I was impressed by the unpretentious exterior and just couldn't wait to get in. The trattoria is located on the ground floor and it serves Jamie's taken on Italian food. An open kitchen and freshly made antipasto and seasonal vegetable dishes tempt the diner. The atmosphere is somewhat rustic Italian.
I had lunch downstairs in the restaurant which serves modern Mediterranean food with an Italian influence. It is quite retro in styling and I loved the pink and white decor of the place which makes it feel like an upscale diner. There are many interesting pieces of art including a gigantic pencil shaded drawing of a pig and a baby created from coloured mosaic tiles.
Appetizer was ricotta fritters in a chili tomato sauce with rocket and shaved parmesan. The ricotta was amazingly fresh and just melted in the mouth after you savoured the light crisp coating.
Main course was a ravioli of sorts whose name I am blanking on now. The ravioli thingie was stuffed with butternut squash and came in a light white sauce with saffron and sage. I loved how the sage was lightly fried which gave it a nice texture. This dish was pure heaven. All the sweet and savoury flavours combined beautifully together to create something truly outstanding.
Dessert was also exceptional. I ordered a vanilla and grappa panna cotta with honey roasted figs and balsamic.
I would rate this meal one of the best meals I've ever had, if not THE BEST. Jamie Oliver has gone up in my esteem and adoration more than ever. Not only is the food in the restaurant exceptional but it is also for a great cause. I don't think Jamie makes any money from this establishment - it all goes towards helping disadvatanged kids. No wonder you don't even blink when you see the bill and realize what an unbelievably expensive meal you just thoroughly enjoyed!
On the way out you can buy any of his several books. I noticed that Jools (Jamie's wife) has just published a book called "Minus nine to one: The diary of an honest mum" that is all about her two pregnancies and bringing up their baby girls, Poppy and Daisy. If Jools' style is anything like Jamie's, this should be a thoroughly enjoyable and fun read for anyone thinking of or just had babies.