The week is always so hectic for our family. My husband often works away, I combine working from home with looking after the kids and the children have a far better social life than we do with clubs and play-dates galore! That's why getting together as a family at the weekend is really important to us and we love eating out together. So, I was thrilled to get invited to review the gorgeous Jamie's Italian Restaurant in the pretty market town of St Albans.
I will confess that we had intended to do a healthy walk before we ate as there's a fabulous park nearby but as the weather was grey and gloomy we headed straight to the restaurant which is based in a stylish 18th century building which has been totally made over since I last visited the Maltings! Our first impression was a warm and friendly atmosphere with a taste of modern Italy. The children were made welcome with crayons and a colouring sheet so they were pretty happy and managed to behave whilst me and my husband perused the menu. I am on a diet at the moment and one of the things I really liked about the Jamie's Italian website was that I could go on beforehand to check the calories and nutrition values in all the meals which meant that I knew what the healthy choices were beforehand. There is also allergy information on there is is really useful for parents who have children will allergies.
We decided to begin with a sharing starter of olives on ice with music bread and olive tapenade and a basket of breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These were presented beautifully and certainly tasted delicious. It was very convivial trying all the different tastes. I was very impressed that the children were feeling quite adventurous enjoying the olives and all the new tastes and flavours. It was the perfect starter as it whetted our appetites but didn't leave us feeling too full for the mains.
I loved the fact that the children had their own special menu to choose from and my daughter loved the sweet little "puppy dog" sausages. As she enjoys salad she was particularly impressed with the shake me salad and the garlic mayonnaise (she was less impressed with mummy trying to steal a chip from her plate!). Being a boy of sophisticated tastes my son had asked for Carbonara (his most favourite dish ever) which was also delicious and he nearly got through it all. Of course I had to taste some too in the name of research and I can confirm that it was very tasty indeed!
My husband and I both love seafood and I went for the Famous Prawn Linguine which was light and flavoursome and one of the healthy options on the menu. I really enjoyed it and didn't feel like I was missing out at all by choosing a healthier dish. My husband was feeling brave and had the Squid and Muscle Spaghetti Nero which he really enjoyed. It was great to be able to have something a little different and it looks really stunning when it was brought out to the table.
After our very tasty food I was quite full but my children still had a ice cream shaped hole in their tummies so we ordered them an ice cream from the kids menu which was only 50p so a real bargain. They chose honeycomb and salted caramel and both enjoyed their deserts.
Overall I was really impressed with Jamie's Italian. There was a great atmosphere, the staff were friendly and helpful and the food was delicious. It was also nice to be able to eat some "grow up" food in a relaxed child friendly environment. We'll definitely come back to Jamie's Italian and next time I promise I will do my walk first...honest!