Design Focus: Jamie’s Italian Edinburgh

Jamies Italian edinburgh 2012 07 12 12.15.28

Jamie Oliver’s £2.3m Edinburgh restaurant has just opened. The 196-cover restaurant called Jamie’s Italian is located in the old Assembly Rooms’ ballroom on George Street and has enough of a WOW factor to knock the celebrity chef’s Glasgow eatery into a cocked hat. Although to be fair the Grade-A canvas was already quite beautiful to begin with, as a former 18th Century Supper Room complete with all the grandeur you’d associate with a bygone era. Inside had been lacking care and attention in recent years, so it was in need of some TLC. It was enriched by the combined design vision of Jamie Oliver, his associate Justin Hardy and
Martin Brundski of MBDS Design, although the lion’s share of the design concept was devised by the man himself.
Explains Jamie Oliver’s Opening Manager, Hamish Goldie, “We do most of our design in house and the key to this one hinged on being sympathetic to the original interior and what Jamie did was pimp up the design a little. It’s a classic Italian with his own unique twist, and we are immensely proud of the result.”
This, Jamie’s second Scottish concern, is his 27th and doesn’t just have one entrance but two. As well as the George Street entrance – there’s also a Rose Street entrance which serves as a second entrance to the restaurant. This leads you into the first of three areas, The Edinburgh Suite, with lots of natural light, from a wall of huge windows, in front of which is a food prep area and servery with hotplates. A combination
of stainless steel, white tiling and marble all sit very neatly together, topped off with some copper pendant lights. This looks out onto the seating area with a relaxed café vibe, and red leather banquettes and dark wooden tables and chairs take up the mainstay of the space. The dark wooden floor contrasts with the white painted walls and ceiling, and some beautiful and very imposing chandeliers look instantly
impressive. Reclaimed wood slightly above halfway up the walls gives this area its down-to-earth feeling, and you’re also left in no doubt as to where you are, with a shelves lined with various of Jamie’s cookbooks and other related products right at the doorway, next to which is the entrance to the kitchen.
The Edinburgh Suite leads into the largest part of the restaurant, The Lower Supper, which has at its heart the ‘antipasti island’,
a staple ingredient of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants. It is located in a central island marble-topped bar with ornate metal piping shelves, and white lighting. Despite the antipasti section, this former ballroom remains a huge expanse of space with its bold red walls, original pillars, ornate cornice work on a white painted ceiling, and polished parquet floor. They say that an all-red interior can make its inhabitants angry all the time, and
this aside, the decision to make it so red is certainly a daring one. It works, though, and is fitting of a city that has so many architectural delights.
More huge chandeliers provide the lighting in an area starved of any natural light, along with some nifty wall glass oblong lights, and along the red panelled walls are antique mirrors
and a total of eight blackboards. Also around the periphery of this area is the red velour-upholstered banquette seating, paired with dark wood chairs, with matching bar stools for perching at the antipasti bar.
This leads into the third, final and highest tier of the restaurant, the Upper Supper, which is essentially a mezzanine, complete with its own bar and all the same design attributes as its Lower Supper cousin. One major difference being the layout of the banquette seating which is centrally located as the bar is along the wall on the left hand-side of the area that will be
the main reception area from the entrance on George Street. The design of the bar has echoes of the antipasti bar, with
similar black metal piping forming an above-the-bar gantry, although the bar itself is made from wood, and the back bar is just a series of simple wall-mounted shelves and mirrors.
What will perhaps attract the most attention in this part of the restaurant is the Ferrari-red Bottene pasta-making machine, which at £18k a pop, is a rightful contender for the title of star attraction. This is what the majority of the staff seemed most impressed with, and I’m sure that this enthusiasm will be passed on to the clientele.
A sympathetic design to a Grade-A building’s original features that is classy without being too starchy of stuffy seems to have encapsulated Jamie Oliver’s personality. I’m sure the people of the Capital and Festival tourists alike will support it on the strength of both his reputation and no less the opulent and slightly cheeky design.

Jason Caddy

Category: Bar & Pub, News
Tags: DESIGN, Edinburgh, Jamie’s Italian Edinburgh, jason caddy