April 19, 2013

Food Review: Jamie's Italian

Read my second review of Jamie's Italian here!

This would constitute as my first food review. Is there such a thing as a casual food review? So, anyone who knows me knows I have a boner for Mr. Jamie Oliver. It's a serious problem. So there is no better candidate to do my first (casual) food review than on the newly opened Jamie's Italian.




Let me start by telling you, I hate lines. I fucking hate queueing. Especially for food. When I am hungry.

So it was with a slightly apprehensive heart that I made my way to Jamie's Italian after uni today, at the beautiful time of 1pm, to see if I could get a table and some lunch. There is a reason for my apprehension - other reviews have stated a wait time that can be anything from an hour to three hours, which you can spend at the bar, or wait for the staff at JI to ring you.


As I made a steady approach I saw a line. My heart sinks a little, but I was determined. I was a woman with a mission. I was going to get me some Jamie Oliver experience and nothing was going to stop me.

After being in the queue for about a minute, (yes, ONE), the usher at the door asked if he could help me, and I told him I was here for lunch and it would be just me. His face brightened, and happily he exclaimed that I would be seated immediately if I didn't mind sitting at the antipasto bar - an offer I did not refuse.

So. Within 5 minutes, I was in the glory of Jamie's Italian, seated at the antipasti bar, and my very good-looking server James was quick to serve.




As I expected, the place was absolutely buzzing with activity, and slightly loud music. There was a strangely huge chandelier in the middle of the restaurant which I found puzzling, booth tables, wooden tables, high ceilings, sunshine and soft lights. To me, it started to feel less like a restaurant, it felt like Jamie's kitchen.

Now I am certain Mr Oliver would have a far more impressive living establishment, but everything sang his name. The music was what he listened to, the kitchen was exposed and you could see and hear the activity. The bar, where waiting customers would sit, was casual and lovely for a drink - eclectic colours of mosaic walls and leather satchels belonging to the servers hanging off the pillars. There was also a bread station - I didn't manage to take a photo but it's basically a selection of crusty breads served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.




With an uncomfortable amount of excitement, I read through the menu, smiling as I saw a highlighted pasta cited as Mrs. Oliver's favourite pasta dish, and made my decision.

I ordered three dishes:



This was very satisfying to me. Not only because I saw it being prepared as I sat at the bar, but also because it was something I thoroughly enjoyed. Presentation was uniquely Oliver, and so was the taste.  The clams were sweet and I was tempted to down the sauce/soup that came with it, the smoked fish merged seamlessly with the yuzu mayo, crispy fish and the signature 'music' bread, crackling as I chew. 


This was the star of the plank for me, creamy, salty mackeral pate slathered over a piece of toast, topped with pickles and olives. Absolutely spot on with the different use of tart, salty pickles and sweet olives. 
Divine starter, amazing presentation. I thought I would be overwhelmed with so many flavours in one plank but somehow they all complimented each other. Next time I will definitely try the meat antipasto plank, with promises of cured meats and cheeses. 





Alright, so these were recommended to me by the lady who took my order - I initially hesitated with the decision of having two starch dishes, but I have heard a lot of things about these risotto balls and I went for it. 

They were served in yet another plank, maintaining the rustic atmosphere of the restaurant - terracotta serving bowls, waxed brown paper and fresh garnish. These stuffed risotto balls, however, didn't hit the spot. I didn't hate them, they were fragrant with the porcini, paired well with the spicy chilli sauce, but they seemed over fried, the mozzarella inside had turned stiff and the risotto was hard and overly chewy. 

Again, I didn't hate them - but I didn't enjoy them as much as I thought I would.





My final dish was possibly the one I looked forward to the most - freshly made pasta from the pasta station, beautiful tomato sauce infused with sausage fat, topped with a genius texture and taste of herbed breadcrumbs.

This was everything I wanted from a pasta dish and then some. Jamie Oliver has always been an advocate for fresh pasta and this shows very well in the dish. The sauce is simple, good herbs, good quality sausage ragu, fresh pasta. The pasta is cooked perfectly al dente, leaving a chewiness that is just right and leaving behind the aroma of the sauce which it soaks up completely.

I had no issues with service - James could stand to be more proactive but he was supported by the other servers, always asking whether the food was okay and whether I needed anything. To be honest, any issues I might have had were always quickly erased with the many big smiles from the JI staff.



Also, before I finish this (casual) review, I know the tradition: the napkin is always taken (stolen) from the table before the patron leaves.

I am vehemently against this practice of taking things out of a eating establishment, no matter how much you want or think you deserve it. (Tips don't cover the cost of stolen napkins) So it was with a great amount of happiness that when I was observing the restaurant that I saw Jamie merchandise for sale, one of which were the famous napkins.

So I added them to my bill, and James packed them into a bag that was again uniquely Jamie: a diagram of his old scooter. Well played, Mr Oliver.





Would I go back? Absolutely.

If you choose to go to JI, make sure you consider the time frame. I went alone, and took a seat at a bar for my meal. If you aren't into that, be prepared to wait. Go around 2-3pm for lunch, and good luck with dinner wait times. JI is also a kid-friendly place, and is relatively noisy at the best of times, but I really think it's worth it.


And don't fucking take (steal) the napkin when you leave.






Jamie's Italian is located at:


140 William Street, Perth CBD
The Mitchell BuildingPerth, WA 

+61 8 9363 8600 
(they take bookings but only over the phone or online) 


Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon


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