<strong>Jamie’s Italian<br />Unit 17, 2 Churchill Place, <br />Canary Wharf, E14 5RB<br />Tel: 020 3002 5252</strong> <br />Cost per person without wine: £25<br /><br />THIS is the second of Jamie Oliver’s chain of wallet-friendly eateries to open in London – one opened in Kingston in late 2008, following the first in Oxford – and he couldn’t have chosen a better spot for business. The restaurant hadn’t even officially opened when we visited on Friday at lunch, and already it was completely full. Buzzing. Noisy. Chaotic.<br /><br />In fact, it was perhaps a bit too chaotic – food came inexcusably slowly and with some mistakes (though the waitress was lovely and did her best). If I had been on a tight lunch break before heading back to my office at Barclays across the road, it would have been a deeply stressful experience, as it is when you order food that you don’t have time to wait for. I know it takes a while for restaurants to get into their stride, but I never understand why it’s always a messy surprise that people want their food within a reasonable time. This is not the first restaurant ever to open. Surely you choose how many tables to have on the assumption that they will be occupied by people wanting lunch, so why are they caught short when that actually happens?<br /><br />Perhaps there are simply too many tables. On entering it feels as though the chances of being forgotten about in the seething mass of people, tumbling bread stations and pasta machines (pasta is made fresh on site) feels more likely than having your every whim – or even just your order – attended to. My blood pressure certainly rose. And as with the others in the chain, the decoration is standardised hyper-rustic: crude iron chairs, exposed brick and various brightly coloured food stations, reminiscent of a children’s food theme park. Bibs would have been a nice touch. None of it helps the stress levels.<br /><br /><strong>VERY JAMIE</strong><br />Yet there were no children in Canary Wharf’s new Jamie’s Italian on Friday, and the food was delicious in a way that would please both child and adult. The menu is appealing, with temptations throughout antipasti, snacks, pasta and mains. We started with an antipasti plate for one (£6.50), which was perfect for two, with salami, mortadella and prosciutto, and two globes of melting spiced mozzarella and pecorino. It was served on a “plank” upheld by two dusty looking tins of tomato – very Jamie and very contrived. Crispy squid with spicy roasted red pepper mayo was wonderful: the squid meaty and warmly ensconced in a perfectly light coating.<br /><br />The pasta was superb and I am convinced any Italian would be pleased with it – the winner was the “delicious crab spaghettini” with fresh picked East Coast Bridlington crabmeat, capers, chilli, fennel, parsley, anchovy and lemon. It tasted as good as it sounds. The carbonara was also great: pancetta and courgettes tossed with eggs, thyme and parmesan cheese and thick, firm pasta worms.<br /><br />For mains we reluctantly surrendered the “good old grilled steak” that looked charcoaly and juicy on other people’s plates and went for yellowfin tuna salad – not cheap at £14.50 but excellent – and chicken cooked under a brick. The yellowfin was pink, silky and generous, laid over fennel and tomatoes with croutons and was the consummate healthy, well-conceived salad. The chicken was generous, juicy and very charcoaly, with an aromatic tomato sauce with chilli and capers – but £12.50 seemed a bit steep for chicken without carbohydrate or salad. The polenta chips we’d wanted with our meal (but which arrived afterwards) were an odd highlight: bright yellow cubes of the mealy grain deep fried with a parmesan and salt – moreish in the extreme and an example of Oliver’s clever creativity. <br /><br /><strong>BOOZY AND ORANGEY</strong><br />We took dessert to go because we had run out of time. Tasted from the inside of a DLR train, the banana and nut brownie seemed oversweet and lacked depth, but the tiramisu was great: creamy, boozy and orangey (though ill-suited to being eaten on the run).<br /><br />There is a no-bookings policy here which makes business lunches difficult, though parties of eight and more can reserve a table. But for a lunch with colleagues and mates on a Friday afternoon, it’s ideal. Just go with the Italian laid-back attitude if you can.<br /><br /><strong>In a nutshell:</strong> Jamie Oliver-themed restaurant serving the chef’s best Italian concoctions. Good menu and lovely food, but the factory-like vibe and the chaotic service and no-bookings policy are downsides – especially for business lunches.