Jamie's Italian whilst in Birmingham the other day, having heard good things about the so-called Burger Italiano... It's undoubtedly a feast for the eyes, but how did his taste buds respond?
“When Jamie’s Italian was first conceived, the starting point was to re-create what Italians are most proud of – fantastic, rustic dishes, using recipes that been tried, tested and loved. So of course we wanted to serve exceptional food. But our aim was also to create 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.”
On entering we were greeting by two members of staff who explained there was a 25-minute wait for a table (which was, in reality, closer to 15-20) so we hung out by the bar and got a drink with the 20 or so others also waiting for a table. It has to be said that the staff were all very friendly and chatty. Our waitress knew the menu and was able to make an informed recommendation. Jamie obviously trains his staff well!
Before I give you the low-down on the burger, let me say that if I wasn’t in burger-blogging mode, there are a lot of delicious sounding pasta dishes on the menu that I’d love to try: pumpkin ravioli, seafood linguine, and rabbit parpadelle, to name a few.
But I was determined to sample the only burger on the menu, Burger Italiano which is priced at a reassuringly expensive £11.25. I had to order "Funky Chips with fresh garlic and parsley" for an additional (£3.25) as the burger is served solo on a wooden plank.
It goes like this; British beef pattie with melty fontina cheese, crispy salami, soft lettuce, salsa, dill pickles, chilli and crispy fried onions.
Now, that is A LOT OF STUFF! Not only have I eaten “melty” cheese along with burger and bun, but there’s an additional seven components in this burger. And it really shows as it’s without doubt the tallest burger I’ve ever tackled.
When I ordered the burger I wasn’t asked how I wanted it so I assumed it would be served medium, which would be ideal. However, when it arrived, it was well done. Which wasn’t ideal. The additional elements were all well and good but I didn’t really rate the combined flavour of them as the chillies pretty much took over. They were like the ones you get with a chicken shish (they’re out of a jar) and the dill pickles were also very prominent in the overall flavour. I cut the burger in half and immediately felt that the bun wasn’t gonna be that great. It’s toasted but it was too crumbly and lacking the slightly absorbent quality needed to help it all stay together.
The beef was finely ground and was actually pretty flavoursome although somewhat overpowered by the chillies though as they were quite juicy and salty. If I’m honest, I don’t really remember much else and certainly don’t recall noticing any crispy salami at all. What I do remember though is feeling that there was too much going on. There were five chillies in total and three big ol’ crispy onion rings.
Basically, you’re really buying into the Jamie Oliver brand when you come here, there's even a stand where you can buy his cookbooks and merchandise. I’d definitely like to come back and try some of the pasta dishes, but the burger… despite having heard good things about it down in London, I just can’t recommend the Burger Italiano experience in the Birmingham restuarant. The meat was overcooked, the bun was crumbly, and the all the extras were over fussy and didn’t seem to add up to a well put together dish. It was also so tall that I struggled to keep it together and that, for me, is a basic requirement.
In some ways I’m not really sure why it’s on the menu as you don’t go to an Italian to eat a burger. If it’s here to stay then I think they need to strip it down a bit (less chillies please), upgrade the bun and maybe serve it with the chips or fries included as so many great brasseries do (Bar Boulud, Rivington Grill etc). The Burger Italiano is also too salty. I’m writing this just over an hour after I ate it and I can still taste the salt. Somebody give me a drink!
Jamie's Italian, Birmingham
Bullring Shopping Centre
Tel: 0121 270 3610
Mon-Sat: 12 noon -11pm
Sunday: 12 noon - 10.30pm