Fifteen London, Islington, Restaurant Review
Here we are again, the Christmas season is upon us. It comes round so quickly that in the magazine world we sometimes cannot deliver what is required, such as a review of Christmas lunch, as advance deadlines mean we are writing our Christmas pages in October. But we’re not going to let this minor inconvenience shake our inalienable festive spirit, not a chance. So I will attempt to add as many seasonal references as possible to this review of lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in N1.
It’s now eight years since Oliver’s restaurant-cum-social enterprise project first opened to the public, following arguably as big a launch-pad as any restaurant has had in the form of the accompanying TV series Jamie’s Kitchen. It’s a project full of festive spirit, and Oliver is the kind of benevolent force that Charles Dickens would draw inspiration from. Named after the first group of fifteen young trainees, the restaurant is a commercial business, wholly owned by the ‘Fifteen Foundation’ - a registered charity - which has at its heart a chef apprenticeship for 18-24-year-olds who need a chance.
Nearly a decade after opening, it seems that Fifteen is still as popular as ever. We arrived via Ebenezer Walk (honestly!) to find the place was packed with more punters than a Christmas Day soup kitchen. So what about the food? Well it was a mixed affair, but as we are all now utterly wrapped in the warm glow of festiveness, I’m going to emphasise the good things as it is the season of goodwill and all that.
For example, I want to concentrate on the excellent wine matches by our Brazilian sommelier and overlook the fact that one of Oliver’s disciples forgot to add seasoning to my papardelle ragu. The pasta was perfectly cooked, as was the duck I ate for main course, alongside some creamy Parmesan polenta. Our starters (a bruschetta of crab and a gooey mozzarella dish respectively) were good if not quite brilliant, but our desserts were excellent – my vanilla panna cotta, with raspberry compote and homemade biscotti, was one of the lightest and most delicious I’ve ever eaten.
Eight years on and Fifteen London is still as busy as ever, and with a four course lunch on the menu it’s highly unlikely that anyone who drops by is going to find themselves doing an Oliver Twist and pitching up to the counter to ask for more. (Nicholas Jones)
Four course lunch including matched wines costs approximately £100
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