The thing about Fifteen is that it is really good. Make that excellent. I have to admit that I expected Fifteen to be somewhat mediocre. After all, it is a celebrity chef driven restaurant and the main basis of the restaurant was to create a TV show (ok cynical of me I know) and to provide a training ground for disadvantaged young people. It didn’t have to be that good, people would come anyway.
When MTV boyfriend and I enter there is no sign of Jamie Oliver, apart from copious copies of his books. However we are welcomed out of the rain by the maitre d’ and even though we are 20 minutes early for our booking we are able to be seated immediately. It is a Monday night and the rain outside is that strange London torrential summer rain, but Fifteen is bustling.
Fifteen is split into two parts, the Trattoria and the Dining Room. The Dining Room is in the basement downstairs and it is the fine dining part of Fifteen where you have to order the degustation menu for £60 (although strictly speaking it is not a degustation menu as for the main dishes you get a choice of three options each time).
To begin with a board of bread, olives and four different types of salami are brought out. I was a bit disappointed that our waiter could not or would not identify which salami is which (one apparently contained truffles and another porcini). He told us we must guess ourselves. However, apart from this glitch, service was very attentive. I was particularly impressed by the sommelier who offered us tasting glasses of the two wines we were vacillating between. We opted a light Italian red in keeping with the Italian food on offer.
My next course was the peach and parma ham salad. The recipe for this is in one of my Jamie Oliver cook books so I was interested to see what it was like in Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. The peaches used were absolutely tiny but quite sweet in contrast to the salty parma ham. Once the salad was finished I moved onto my entree of papardelle with a pork ragu. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the ragu was succulent and rich.
As we readied ourselves for our main course amuse bouches of scallop were brought out. This went well with my main which was the Fishermans Stew, a mix of langostines, mussels and fish with a chunk of thickly buttered bread wedged on the side. The langostines were slightly thin on the ground but the broth was flavoursome and fragrant. I had no shame and dunked the bread in to try and get every last drop.
Another amuse bouche of lemon granita appeared before our dessert. MTV boyfriend had opted for the panacotta which arrived glistening and quivering surrounded by delicious fresh berries. I went for the cheese selection comprising a cheddar and a blue along with crisp bread and chutney. There was not much to the cheddar but the blue was creamy and delicious.
It was a memorable meal even without a glimpse of Jamie Oliver, and the calibre of the food meant that I totally forgot that the restaurant was still a training ground. Nevertheless you were able to feel somewhat warm and fuzzy on the way home.