As a final treat in London prior to our departure back towards Montreal, we made a reservation at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Fifteen. Located in central London, Fifteen’s claim to fame is their “non-profit” status. All profits from the restaurant go to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. On top of that, the restaurant has an apprentice programme which provides challenged youth with training and mentorship in the food industry. A very cool and worthwhile project within a high-end restaurant.
Located on a weird, almost dead-end street that is very easy to miss, Fifteen is a beautiful space. The main floor has a nice bar and lounge space which was quite busy when we arrived for our reservation. Visually, I really loved the space – great use of the old brick walls subtly accented by dark wood counters, leather seats and metal tables. The low lighting, when mixed with the music and chatter from the bar/lounge area, created a cool speakeasy type vibe.
We were seated in the basement area right in front of the open kitchen – which was cool in order to observe the work being done over the course of the evening. The primary downside however was that the ambience that was present upstairs was less so by the kitchen – I was more aware of the wait staff and kitchen staff buzzing around us retrieving plates.
First we ordered a basket of their home-made sourdough with butter. I absolutely love sourdough bread so I couldn’t resist trying it. Nice crunch on the crust but still moist and fluffy on the inside. Had that classic sourdough taste as well. This was a great start of the meal for me.
On to the starters now, I went with the crispy pig’s cheek with slow cooked egg, goldrush apple and kimchi. I was rather intrigued by the combination of ingredients as listed on the menu and how they would mix together. The answer is perfectly. The crunch and fattiness of the pig’s cheek, the spiciness of the kimchi, the richness and creaminess of the egg and finally the sweetness of the apple all worked beautifully as a mixture of texture.
Our other starter was the house-cured salmon with parsley root, dill and pickled mustard seed. A very elegant dish compared to the strong notes of the previous starter. The star is clearly the salmon and all the other ingredients here act to enhance its inherent flavours. The dill was most notable although part of that to me is how well dill seems to pair with salmon – it seems to make that spice pop more so than others. Very nice dish.
My main of choice on this evening was the gnocchi with butternut squash, spinach and goat’s curd. Texture-wise, the gnocchi was very interesting – quite a bit more crunch on the exterior than I’ve typically gotten with gnocchi but thankfully they still kept their pillowy texture inside. The combination of the squash with the goat’s curd made for a rather creamy sauce to pair with it. The spinach was good but frankly didn’t feel all that necessary in the construction of the plate.
Our second main was the Hereford short rib with jerusalem artichoke and pickled walnut dressing. The short rib was heavenly – rich and fatty and fall-apart texture. The pureed artichokes were a nice contrast to the meat and the walnut dressing added some spiciness of the equation. Very enjoyable overall.
Looking at the dessert options next, we couldn’t say no to some of the options laid before us. First up was the hazelnut ice cream sandwich. Great smooth texture to the ice cream as well as a strong hazelnut flavour. Ideally I would have preferred true cookies to create a full sandwich you could grab but regardless, I did enjoy the crunch from the cookie “bites” here.
Our other dessert was organic chocolate mousse with blood orange and creme fraiche. A beautiful looking dessert and a delicious one at that. Great contrast between the tartness of the chocolate mousse, the acidity of the orange and the creaminess of the creme fraiche. A nice mixture of textures and flavours.
Fifteen was a wonderful experience to finish off our time in London. It’s great to see Jamie Oliver set up a restaurant in this non-profit fashion and still ensure that it has the look and feel of a high-end restaurant. The quality you would look for in a Jamie Oliver restaurant was still there and it’s great to know that my enjoyment of a great meal may help someone get future employment in the industry. A truly worthwhile cause to support.
Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen
15 Westland Pl
(020) 3375 1515