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BARBICAN LIFE


Part of Jugged Hare Restaurant section interior


pretty favourable comments on the food on the barbicantalk bulletin board, as well as a very good review from Giles Coren in The Times. From the Barbican residents’ point of view it also serves good Sunday lunches (according to some Barbican residents who have tried this) – and being in the Montcalm City hotel serves breakfast too. A very welcome addition to the growing restaurant population around the Barbican.)


Jamie’s Italian Threadneedle Street – Rustic meets banking hall


I happily tucked into a tranche of River Test trout, caught by the chef himself! It would have been rude not to choose it. The fish was very fresh, and had an excellent flavour, but was possibly a touch over- cooked. The accompanying tiny fresh broad beans and peas, and asparagus, in a light lemony dill sauce more than made up, however. Very good indeed, properly light and summery, as were the little Jersey royals on the side. There are lots of nursery puddings on the


The impressive interior of Jamie’s Italian in the City


menu, and we tried bread and butter, which I think might have had some clever twist about breakfast, but I can't quite remember. We had a selection of English cheeses in tip top condition. Oh, and to drink, a wonderful Argentinian pinot noir.


As you will have noticed, the chef more than doffs


his cap to another local


restaurant, St John, but then what self- respecting gastro pub doesn't? Still, squirrel pie, which was on the menu, might have been taking the homage a bit far. But the Jugged Hare menu is wider and a bit more mainstream, with the huge rotisserie that dominates one side of the restaurant providing lots of


daily roast specials


(suckling pig when we went - it was a fight to choose that trout), as well as staples every day (the whole roast chicken with sides, at £27 to share, is probably the best value choice on the menu). Most of the starters range from about


£6.50 to £9, with main courses around the high teens, and steak from the big grill in the twenties. These are definitely good restaurant prices - but good restaurant quality too. There is also a cheaper pub menu, but not much room to eat it, as the bar is, as I've already moaned to you, a bit cramped. Probably fine at the weekend though. And they do good coffee all day, pre- and post-theatre menus, and have an excellent private dining room in the basement. ETM group, which runs the Jugged Hare, and its neighbour the Chiswell Street Dining Rooms, as well as many other smart pub/restaurants in central London is extremely professional. The Jugged Hare is a good addition to the neighbourhood but ETM might like to consider doing a burger for less than £17 in order to make it somewhere you might drop into when you can't be bothered to cook. (Editor’s note: This was indeed an extremely enjoyable meal and definitely ETM Group is doing something right with the Jugged Hare. The fact that the bar always seems packed is perhaps a function of the small size of the bar area compared with reasonable table spacing in the restaurant section. There have been a number of


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banner with the purpose of serving food, as they put it, in “an environment with a "neighbourhood" feel, inspired by the "Italian table" where people relax, share, and enjoy each other's company. Jamie's Italian was designed to be accessible and affordable, a place where anyone is welcome and everyone will feel comfortable, no matter how much you spend or how long you stay.” The concept has been successfully rolled


J


out across the country, and overseas too (in Dubai and Sydney). There are 26 Jamie’s Italians in the UK including half a dozen in London, with another one opening at Gatwick airport this summer In the Threadneedle Street branch


much of the overall concept has actually been achieved – although the location in what is a former banking hall with an imposing entrance, and an even more imposing high ceilinged dining space, seems anything but rustic, although I suppose the neighbourhood element could be accurate given the location in the heart of the City’s financial district. In short the big dining area, with an additional mezzanine floor fitted into the space above the bar with attractive glass windows looking down on the diners in the main eating area below, and remarkable plasterwork in the ceilings themselves is hugely impressive in terms of decor and ambience. It is truly perhaps a City vision of what an ideal restaurant should be – and all achieved without sky-high prices to go with the sky-high ceilings. The restaurant is perhaps a little dark


with fairly subdued lighting. For those of us with poor eyesight it did make reading the menu difficult – particularly as that is also in relatively dark colours. And what about the food and service? Our experience dining there on a fairly


amie Oliver’s team has put together a chain of ‘rustic’


Italian themed restaurants under the Jamie’s Italian


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