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Entries in Mexican (2)


Benito's Hat


I love burritos. I eat far too many and have what a therapist would call an obsession. Despite a massive increase in the number of establishments specializing in burritos, I can name only two that consistently get them right - Chilango and Chipotle. 

In an attempt to get out of my Burrito rut and check out The Boyfriend's new neighbourhood we tried Benito's Hat. 

A good burrito requires two things:

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Jamie's Italian


So, I'm not a big Jamie Fan. I've never really been a big Jamie fan. It is not just his restaurants that I dislike, I mean Barbecoa was truly terrible, but it is more something about his attitude that I am not overly fond of. He is a bit like Marmite I think, you either love him or hate him. Potential biases aside, I thought I would try Jamie's Italian because I do appreciate that he wants to bring well cooked food to the masses, and for that I've got to respect him. In a city where eating out is so incredible expensive, it is a way nice, and probably very profitable, that he's giving people effectively "designer food" for bargain prices.

I decided to give Jamie one last shot. My friend and I headed to Jamie's on a Tuesday Night. I was prepared to be turned away with a beeper, which we were, because strangely the restaurant seems to have no bar/waiting area. This makes the whole experience on the inefficient side, as people invariably wander off to get a drink somewhere, order their large glass of white wine, and then have their buzzer buzz. So they come back 15 minutes later, whilst the table has been sitting empty for those 15 minutes. Anyway, its all very strange to walk into a half empty restaurant, and be told to wait 20 minutes whilst elsewhere in Covent Garden, bar tenders are being driven mad by Jamies’ buzzers. 

 The prices fell into the same bracket as Zizis/ Pizza Express etc. Reading the menu however, reminded me of my anti-Jamie sentiment. I find his menus patronizing and a bit sanctimonious. Maybe, I'm wrong but I think if I had repeated some of the phrases on the menu I would have felt uncomfortable saying them to an adult, probably uncomfortable even saying them to one of my seven year old cousins. Things like "funky chips”, " Nachos with 'Angry' Arrabiata sauce" or describing a bottle of wine as "A real treat!" I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Maybe I am the only one who finds it a bit irritating but regardless, this style of menu writing grates on me. On a similar note, he had gone for the incredible tacky thing of pimping out other merchandise on the menu. I mean fine, displaying his cook books by the door, as he did at Barbecoa I believe is one thing or having a little note on the table as they do at Le Gavroche, but selling Jamie's tea towels underneath the wine? Come on.

Full from the guacamole earlier, my friend and I ordered just a large dish of pasta each. I went for the "BEAUTIFUL BUCATINI CARBONARA £6.55/£10.25 -Tubular spaghetti with crispy fried smoked pancetta and ribbons of leek, tossed with eggs, thyme and parmesan cheese." It was okay. Certainly not beautiful. The pasta was at least fresh and the pancetta was nice and crispy but the sauce was on the heavy side and just tasted like there was something missing .
This was accompanied by a carafe of Pinot Grigio, for about 14. Never the wine expert, it tasted fine to me.
To be honest, if I really wanted fairly cheap Italian food in Covent Garden, I think I would have preferred to go to Pizza Express. It's not that it was a bad experience. It just wasn’t worth all the hassle of waiting for 20 minutes, being sent away and then coming back, all for fairly mediocre food served by staff who don’t seem that bothered. Given all the competition in the area, I think it is amazing that there is a wait, but I guess that’s the benefit of a "designer label".

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