Over the last few years, Canary Wharf has transformed from a white elephant to a glossy shopping and eating destination. When I go on my own with my 3 (nearly 4!) year old we get the DLR, which is an event in itself for him. When we go en famille we drive.
We were lured last weekend by the prospect of Waitrose and husband’s need for new sunglasses (yes, he is a metrosexual and proud of it). After a truly disappointing experience at The Gaucho, we headed for Jamie’s Italian.
The restaurant, modelled on a traditional trattoria, was busy for a Sunday with lots of families. Jamie Oliver’s infectious enthusiasm for food and experience as a Dad, shines through from beginning to end. The kids menu comes on one of those toy disc picture viewers so they can choose their own food from the pictures. It also encourages the waiters to ask the kids what they want to eat rather than their parents – great for giving them independence and confidence. Crayons and paper, highchairs and small cutlery are all provided.
Jack had brought his new toy shopping trolley with him and insisted on taking it on repeated trips to the bar to ask for straws. This was handled with amusement and good humour by the staff, if not his parents.
The food is authentically Italian, but with more of a twist than Carluccio’s. No opportunity to use fragrant herbs is wasted. Jack ate olives, focaccia and every last mouthful of his spaghetti bolognese and ice cream (as well as the rosemary infused bread and blackened chicken from my salad).
The service was friendly, efficient and speedy. The changing table is in the disabled loo which is on the same level as the restaurant. For older tots the toilets are on a mezzanine level. The bonus is the kids get to see into the buzzing kitchen as you go up the stairs.
Admittedly, one wouldn’t come here for an intimate, romantic lunch, but for an informal lunch out with friends and kids, it comes pretty close to capturing what’s great about the Italian attitude to kids and food.
Afterwards, as we waddled with full bellies round the shops, Dan managed to find new sunglasses and I fell in love with Waitrose. Clutching our shopping, we paid for the parking, the coins tinkling into the machine, watched by a jovial looking parking attendant.
“If you spend £5 the parking is free, you just have to get a token in the shop” he said with a big grin.
Stylishness: 3/5 (only misses out on a 4 because it is essentially informal eating)
Feeding Facilities: 5/5
Changing Facilities: 5/5
Overall rating 21/25 £-££