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Drink/Dine ian 11/13/2012

When in London recently I sampled Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Fifteen.  Established in 2002 it is celebrating a decade of using the magic of food to give unemployed young people a chance to have a better future. Since then, 95 apprentices have graduated to become professional chefs.

I love the concept, and I loved the food.

You can get a two course set menu for £26 (AUD$43) but we went ‘freestyle’ and it came in at about the same price – started with a selection of Italian breads with Puglian extra virgin olive oil and a bowl of giant green olives from Puglia… and for the main I went for Thirsk farm lamb (with cicerchia beans, cime de rapa and wild garlic pesto) – wow - it was simply THE best lamb I have ever tasted.

There was, however, one downside.  I have a disability that makes stairs a bit of a challenge and I phoned to check that they had an accessible bathroom with no stairs to negotiate.  They did.  And following the meal I couldn’t spot it so I asked.  It was through a door just behind where they had placed a diner and his partner.  He was asked to move so I could get to the door and, on entering, I was glad I had a cane for mobility assistance and not a wheelchair because they used that facility to store a few high chairs and other furniture.  And it was a little disconcerting to exit and find the poor diner sitting at his companion’s side of the table, waiting, and other diners’ eyes watching.

And this lack of attention to detail is why I shan’t be buying his latest cookbook, Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals.  He doesn’t mention the other half hour that it takes to prepare and clean up and, if you have seen his TV series of the same name, it doesn’t happen there either – and it might as well be called Learn to Juggle Fifteen Balls.  Not all of us can sauté spinach and garlic with the left hand, blend a mango and pepper salsa with the right hand, check that the pan-fried chicken is humming along, talking non-stop while the chocolate soufflé rises in the oven.  Whew.  Just thinking about it has me opting for a phone-in-a-pizza night.

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Photo: GE Plastics

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