Give or take a few months, Jamie Oliver and I are pretty much exactly the same age. And by a huge coincidence, our career trajectories to date are also virtually identical: he has been on television since he was 22 years old, published over a dozen trillion-billion selling cook books, single-handedly rescued the nation's school children from the evil turkey twizzler, married a model and had four gorgeous children, AND opened a string of successful restaurants bearing his name; whereas I...well, I must surely have also done something noteworthy in all that time.
Now, in a bid to shame me and my profligate life still further, Jamie is on the verge of opening his latest venture ON MY PATCH. The new Jamie's Italian is set to open in the old Midland Bank building at the top of King Street on Monday 20th February, and promises fresh pasta made daily on the premises and an ever-changing seasonal menu. Jamie does not clarify whether the food will be prepared and cooked to the same standard that I myself whip up my regular favourites from my own be-splattered copy of Jamie's Italy, but it is entirely understandable that he should leave himself something to strive for.
The new restaurant looks set to be a mighty affair, spread over all three floors of the Grade II listed building: the ground floor banking hall (which apparently retains many of the original features, including marble columns and mahogany wall panelling - much like my own house, although I don't like to boast about how much I have achieved so far in my short life), a mezzanine level, and the basement vault room which will house a private area seating twelve diners. In a well-timed publicity coup that other restaurateurs could only dream of, the contents of this bank vault have hit the headlines in spectacular fashion this week, with the old safety deposit boxes yielding up treasure including gold, guns and - best of all - Joy Division and New Order master tapes; I like to think of the late great Tony Wilson putting all this together years ago as his own mischievous version of a Manchester time capsule to be discovered at some future date. Anyway, the total value of this haul is estimated at over £1 million pounds; probably similar to the value of the contents of my own cellar, should I trouble myself to work it all out.
*pretends has cellar*
*shoots warning glance at Mr Liz, who looks puzzled*
There'll be a full review of the new Manchester Jamie's Italian once I've been there and plunged my greedy face into a big bowl of pasta; for now, I'll leave you with the words of the man himself, who has this to say: “The Manchester restaurant is going to be one of the jewels in the Jamie’s Italian crown. It’s a fantastic building in a vibrant, exciting city and I know the people of Manchester are going to love it. I’ve worked hard with my team to make sure we’ve got incredible food but at affordable prices...I hope one day, if I keep working hard, I'll be as successful as that nice lady who writes the Things to Do in Manchester blog - it humbles me to think that we are the same age*"
*last sentence not based on actual words uttered by Mr Oliver but a reconstruction of what he might have been thinking.
- Jamie's Italian is at 100 King Street, Manchester M2 4WU.