Thursday, 2 July 2009

Jamie Oliver Brighton - Pffft!

[Update: In fairness to those people who turn up here after googling 'Jamie Oliver, Brighton' I should say that we have eaten at Jamie's on three occasions and the first two we were very impressed with both the excellent service and the standard of the food. Nevertheless the episode described below was annoying and I would hope was a glitch rather than a drop in standards.]

The Sock is in a very bad mood. A very bad mood indeed.

As it is impossible to do anything much in the heat the Sock decided to drive into town and have lunch at Jamie Oliver's newish Italian restaurant. The Socks have eaten there a couple of times and enjoyed it and the Sock had a sudden craving for truffle pasta. The short drive into town was horrendous with EFL students throwing themselves under the Sockmobile left, right and centre. Not just the foreign students either - everyone seemed intent on wandering like zombies around the middle of the road or pushing their pram and children straight under my wheels. Don't they bother to teach kids road sense any more? What happened to look left, look right and when all's clear make a dash for it? And of course most of the roads have been dug up causing traffic jams and diversions as happens every summer and in fact most of the year round.

So the Sock was already hot and bothered and on the verge of driving home when she chanced upon a parking space so the meal was on.

Jamie's was fairly empty so why did they put the Sock on a tiny table right at the back? Whilst these tables are OK for two people chatting across it, the likelihood is that a person on their own will want to read something and have room to spread out a bit. Few restaurant staff ever think about this sort of thing but it would be nice if they did. The Sock couldn't be bothered to ask to change so ordered a bruschetta starters and the desired truffle tagliatelle and a glass of wine to wash it down with.

The bruschetta was OK, although the sourdough bread was not quite as chargrilled as it should have been. It arrived with four tiny bowls of creamed ricotta, rustic tomato salsa, smashed roast artichoke, rocket and parmesan pesto. The tomato salsa was slightly watery and the tomatoes bits lacked flavour but the rest was nice.

Then after too long a wait the truffle tagliatelle turned up - an overcooked mess of tagliatelle clumped together with some sort of slightly thick liquid gooping at the bottom of the bowl that seemed like the starchy run off from the pasta. It was difficult to assess exactly how near to a truffle the tagliatelle had ever got although there was a very slight hint of it as if the truffle had been wafted over the top. The first forkful of clumped tag stuck to the roof of the Sock's mouth and didn't seem to want to scrape off. Yeuch!!! Inedible! The Sock called the waiter and suggested the tagliatelle was overcooked or had been hanging around. "Do you mean undercooked?" asked the waiter. "Why would I say the opposite of what I mean? Whatever. I can't eat it, it is horrible." The Sock didn't think the waiter was particularly apologetic although he said he would change it, as if he was doing the Sock a favour.

By that time the Sock didn't want anything else and paid for the starter and drink and left doing without an ice cream dessert she had fancied. The Sock would like to believe this was a one-off aberration but she doesn't hold out much hope. Both Carluccio's and Zilli's went rapidly downhill after their initial openings and it is quite probable that Jamie's has already done the same.

So for this reason the Sock is re-instating a little tradition from last year...

clic for the flic


Fat Rascal said...

Oh dear! But I suppose after your recent gastronomic delights in Italy anything would have seen pale and tasteless in comparison.

Things haven't moved on if they're still seating single women in dark corners.

We've had lunch out today -plat du jour with starter or cheese or dessert for 9€.
I had roast pork with ratatouille and then the cheese -Cantal and Fourme D'Ambert. With a pichet of the house rosé!

The place was full but they still brought more bread and water as needed.

That sort of value for money is increasingly rare though.

Arabella Sock said...

Ooooh! That sounds nice... I could eat that. I've got nothing for tea now because I was having a late lunch rather than eat this evening as I have my class. Now I'm hungry. Sob! The Bedsock says I should get a burger on my way home from class. Perhaps I'll have a chilli cheese one and some chips.

What I really fancy now is some proper ice cream.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

What a burger? You're not getting that most British of all British dishes ....... a curry! ;-)

Had dinner in my fav restaurant yesterday. Had fruit de mer. One half was overcooked and the other half missing while they charge and arm and a leg for it. Had to fill up on patat met mayonaise. Oh the agony our dainty palates and stomachs put us through!

I agree that you had a bone to pick with Jamie and he got his just desert! Bon appetite Jamie.

Karen - An Artists Garden said...

Oh Dear! Arabella!
So sorry you went hungry :(
Love the "click for flick" :)
Why do they stick single women in dark corners :(

LittleGreenFingers said...

Is there a hint of Jamie to the place... or had he just been wafted over the top too?

Arabella Sock said...

No burger. I have had low sugar baked beans on a piece of toast for my tea. What joy! :(

I love fruit de mer Yolanda chips with mayo is no substitute although chips with curry sauce might be close.

Karen, I was surprised that I was put in the corner although I think it was more to do with being on my own than female, the other occasions we went we were struck by how good and friendly the service was.

LittleGreenFingers I suspect Jamie wafted around when it was first opened. The problem is usually when they stop wafting in and out because they have spread themselves too thinly then standards drop.

VP said...

Oh dear. I hope Bath's JO's not going to go the same way :( How about emailing your review of your meal to the restaurant/JO/anyone else relevant?

I'm posting a lovely lemon sorbet recipe tomorrow - it's easy peasy even a cuddly cashmere sock could make it without the sorbet going all woolly ;)

And it's yummy too. If you want ice cream though, there's a link to a great strawberry ice cream recipe as recommended by my friend.

Ms B said...

I was only reading the other day about how much money Carluccio made when he sold his chain of restaurants some time ago. The company have now taken him on as a consultant. That says it all!

Last night I had lamb & squash thai curry followed by blackcurrant crumble. Mmmmmmmmm!

VP said...

PS What's the course you're doing?

Have a great weekend :)

Y.A.N. said...

Sorry to hear about the day of disappointments - a real case of ODTAA. However, the Flick made me laugh out loud! I think you should send it, with the explantion, to Jamie's website.

Still on culinary matters, I have tried your sundried tomato recipe, it's been so hot here that the tomatoes thought they were in Puglia when I put them outside. V nice, too, though only supermarket tomatoes, not the greeny-red Med ones, which would have been better.

Arabella Sock said...

Ms. B. now you have said that I am going to have to go out in search of blackcurrant crumble. I may be gone some time.

VP, I'm doing a Photoshop evening class adult education at a local school. It is really good - I'm self taught with photoshop and only use the absolute tip of the iceberg of it's full potential. I find it impossible to learn from reading manuals and find that I have basic gaps in my knowledge that this course is plugging.

Y.A.N. - I wish I had thought to do that with some tomatoes yesterday although they would probably have been steamed it was so sultry.

Claire Potter said...

Oh dear. I do feel very guilty as I have done a couple of ravy posts about the afore mentioned truffle tagiatelle.
Complain to the restaurant, without doubt. I noticed from my visits that some of the waiters / waitresses were great, and a few not so great. (and I know this has been noticed also by the in-house staff, as i get inside info...)
There is no excuse for overcooked pasta, as it ends up tasting like slimy tapeworms - not that I eat that regularly, but you know what I mean.
send them an email and explain your visit - believe me, some people complain about really stupid things, like the hand driers being too loud, so I'm sure a real criticism will be welcomed.

Arabella Sock said...

You have nothing to feel guilty about Claire - I had the truffle pasta there before when you had tempted me with it and it was very good! Slimy tape worms - yeugh!

I think I will send a comment to them - although I didn't pay for it I was still annoyed about the whole thing and the sad thing is that we were really pleased at getting a Jamie's in Brighton because most of the other Italians are rubbish.

emmat said...

On a recent press trip I yelled at the Russian representative for walking straight into the road without looking in either direction.

She turned around in her high heels, with fag in one hand, and said, "Is Moscow Habit", and carried on regardless. I think people in other countries value life less or something.

Arabella Sock said...

Ah there you are Emma - I thought you must be on hols. I can just picture the scene with the Russian woman. LOL!

We stuck to the cheapo trattorias in Rome as you advised and were well served. It seemed the cheaper the place the better the pasta and the atmosphere was great too as they were mainly full of Romans. The one more expensive meal we had was clearly geared towards tourists with a 'comedy' waiter whose timing was worse than Chris Beardshaw's and the food was nice but not exciting.

janerowena said...

A young fried of mine works in a JO restaurant - she said that he appeared at the opening and hasn't been seen since, exactly the same thing happened at a Carluccio's where she worked before that.

I suppose it's a bit like going into M&S and expecting to see Stuart Rose.

Hara said...

Out of lurkdom to say that I am in two minds about this post, Arabella. I will be over in Brighton from the Netherlands for a week in July (for the first time ever!) and was looking forward to Jamie Oliver's. Maybe they'll take pity on my 75-year-old Mum who will be with me?
Anyway, thanks for a fantastic blog. It ever fails to make my day.