Since the TV programme all those years ago, Fifteen has been on my hit list (I’m also a huge fan of Jamie Oliver, being from Essex it’s a given!). I love the whole premise of the place – the mission statement is printed on the menu: “All profits allow Fifteen to use the magic of food to give unemployed young people a chance to have a better future”.
As you can imagine I was really happy to get a Red Letter Day at Christmas for a “tasting menu for two at Jamie’s Fifteen”. So, me and the boyfriend went on Saturday (1st March) and I was not disappointed – the cocktails were particularly good (the marmalade was DIVINE); though the service and attention to detail was a bit disappointing.
Anyway, on to the most important bit: the food. Unfortunately for us the first three courses on the tasting menu were fish-based and happened to be the three fish/shellfish neither of us particularly like. Although, in fairness neither of us had tried an oyster before – it was okay; but I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Give me mussels any day.
Next the smoked anchovy with hens egg. This surprised me – I’m not a massive fan of anchovies but it was lovely, the egg was perfectly cooked and the squid ink crackers it came with were a triumph. The cured salmon with black radish and herb vinaigrette was nice, but it didn’t really float my boat. I just don’t really get why people rave about salmon it has always been at the bottom of my list when it comes to fish.
The middle dish – spelt risotto with goat curds was lovely. We practically inhaled it after three mediocre dishes beforehand. By this point we just wanted the meat to arrive, stat. And it was more than worth the wait. I thought my favorite would be the short rib, but the duck and prune cannelloni was unbelievably delicious. If I was to go again, that would certainly me my choice of main course. I was also suitably impressed with the lovely glass of Tempranillo I had to accompany the meats (expensive though at £9 for a 175ml glass!).
Dessert couldn’t have worked out better. He had the velvety vanilla ice-cream and I got the chocolate malt mousse which was essentially a fancy take on a Malteser. The creamiest milk chocolate mousse, topped with a malt creamy foam, burnt sugar shards and chunks of bitter dark chocolate. I scoffed the lot.
So, while it was a lovely gift the lack of attentiveness really disappointed us, when it was quite obvious any one with a Red Letter Day booking would have received it as a gift! We were seated 30 minutes late while four couples who arrived way after us got seated before us. Luckily we got two drinks knocked-off the bill, which slightly made up for it.
I accept it was a very busy Saturday night, but I think they should have offered us the tour (seeing as it was part of the deal) and given us our free prosecco on arrival. Or maybe they just shouldn’t accept Red Letter Day bookings on a Saturday night if they’re too busy to fulfill all of the deal.
So my advice to anyone who wants to try Fifteen would be, go, but don’t bother with a Red Letter Day or any other deal – you won’t get any special treatment. And you won’t get the best dishes on the menu; in fact you’ll spend your whole two hours watching rotisserie chickens go out to other tables, wishing you had one. Though the duck cannelloni is a MUST try if you go, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Value: 7/10 – the deal was £150, I think you could have had a cheaper and better meal if you just had a normal booking
Atmosphere: 7.5/10 – nice background music (think AiM), but quite dark and the tables are VERY close together