Still feeling alright at Fifteen
Matt Humphreys reviews Jamie Oliver’s revamped restaurant
15 Westland Place, N1
Tel: 020 3375 1515
I DON’T watch a lot of telly as a rule, so I’m not entirely au fait with the seemingly omnipresent phenomenon that is Jamie Oliver.
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But my instinct tells me that, like Marmite, the great British public are split right down the middle on this one.
For every revamped school dinner and rabble-rousing “yoof” rehabilitated into a talented top chef comes a TV show, cookbook or billboard plastered with his matey, mockney boat race.
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Well, after a truly splendid lunch at Fifteen – and having once enjoyed a tasty pork chop and pear bake from one of his recipes off the internet – I have to say credit where credit is due.
But what I enjoyed most about Fifteen was its willingness to debunk the preposterous snobbery that can mar many a fine dining experience.
The upstairs trattoria, like the rest of Fifteen, feels as fresh as a daisy following a recent revamp – natural light streams in from the atrium, a funky pop art mural adorns the wall and hanging meats frame the warm red reception area and open kitchen.
The genial waiting staff (note the “smart-casual” uniforms) are attentive, approachable and chatty in equal measure and there’s not a dicky bow blazer to be seen among our fellow diners.
There is no 60-page leather-bound wine list and the mouth-watering menu feels open and inclusive.
And with four pasta mains priced at a tenner, you could treat your special one to a special, starstruck night out with a bottle of plonk, service and starters thrown in for around �60.
That’s not to say the standard of cooking at Fifteen isn’t exceedingly high – on the contrary.
A delicate trio of antipasti to whet the appetite were delectable, the pick being a pesto-stuffed sardine wrapped in parma ham with a perfectly balanced lemon and chilli dressing.
My Aberdeen Angus rib eye (�22.50) was as thick as my wrist and immediately registered itself in the top five steaks I’ve ever tasted, while my partner’s monkfish (�21) arrived skewered on a sprig of rosemary with alternating chunks of oil-soaked, pancetta-wrapped focaccia bread.
A youngish, straw-coloured bottle of Italian Garganega was chilled to perfection, perfectly light and just dry enough to accompany our relaxed Saturday lunch.
And if you really want to push the boast out I’d heartily recommend treating yourself to one of the amazing puds and a cleansing homemade limoncello liqueur to finish.
Fifteen bears all the hallmarks of its creator without ever feeling overbearing.
And when a Supergrass Britpop hit came on over the restaurant speakers, I must admit I felt like jumping on the nearest Vespa, revving it up and tearing off along the City Road like it was 1995 all over again.
– MATT HUMPHREYS
Wine: from �18.50
Mains: from �9
Children welcome: yes
Disabled facilities: yes