October 01, 2013

Food Review: Jamie's Italian (2)

Read my first review of Jamie's Italian

If you made it to this entry, I hope you click the above link to my first Jamie's Italian review, which was also my very very first food review entry on this blog. The photos in this entry were taken by my baby sister from wennatravels.com, and I hope is an improvement from my usually dismal attempt of food photography. 


Welcome back (if you actually did click the link), and I actually did make a reservation this time since it was a group of six of us visiting. The reservation system of Jamie's Italian has improved quite a bit since it first opened, now allowing people to make reservations both online and over the phone. The reservation is also confirmed through email and text so you can make changes as soon as possible. 

That aside, out of the six of us, three of us (including me) has been to Jamie's Italian before, two of which visited Jamie's Italian in Singapore and didn't find it particularly impressive in terms of food or service. I was determined to make their visit to Jamie's Italian good, and to our delight they gave us a beautiful booth in the centre of the restaurant. 


As we were getting comfortable, we became acquainted with our chirpy, friendly server of the day, Jin, who was quick to introduce the specials to us and start us on our bread and sparkling water. 


As my group excitedly took in their surroundings (we are all big Jamie fans), we made quick work of the menu and went big on our ordering this time since it was six of us, making sure everyone picked a dish everyone could share - not so difficult when the food at Jamie's is good for sharing. 

We started with two starters:


We have seen this dish made on Jamie Oliver's show, many times, and decided it would be a must try the moment we saw it on the menu. However, when it arrived it seem to underwhelm just by its quantity. It was one slice of bread with a heaping of different mushrooms, which made it difficult to share and was very unimpressive for its price tag of $15. 

We pressed on, and agreed that despite its unimpressive quantity, it was still pretty delicious - the mushrooms were lovely, fragrant with garlic on the toasty bread. 


With that out of the way, we eagerly anticipated the star of our meal, the two planks we ordered, since the antipasto planks in Jamie's Italian have a maximum of four servings - so it was not difficult for us to make the decision of making it two planks with three servings each for the six of us:


This did not disappoint any of us, from its presentation to the variety of cured meats, chilli, olives and cheeses on 'music' bread, we very much explored every combination and component of the antipasti plank to its fullest potential. 

I have had their seafood plank before, but it was not available that day - it didn't seem to bother us very much once we laid eyes on the planks, quality ingredients laid beautifully on wooden planks set upon heavy tomato cans, rustic and simple, allowing us to share our food easily over conversation and discussion. 

We all seemed to lean towards the olives and chilli, eventually making our own combinations wrapped in the different cured meats - the combination of the day turned out to be the San Daniele prosciutto, with curly green chillies and the signature crunchy salad wrapped within. The olives were very popular as well, especially with my friends, who loved the tart Gaeta olives. My little sister was very much in awe of the buffalo mozzarella, particularly at how mild it was, melting easily in the palate. 


Following the two antipasti planks, were two salads, one was a simple Rocket and Radicchio salad for $7, which I don't have a photo of, and the other being a main salad:


This salad was very confusing to most of us at the table, and remained largely unfinished towards the end of our meal. I don't think we disliked the salad, but perhaps didn't really enjoy it as much since we already had some Wagyu breseaola from the two antipasti planks. 

With the starters aside, the mains were served, of which we ordered four: 


This risotto was very much enjoyed by all of us in the group - it was ordered mostly because of our inclination to all things truffle, and did not disappoint. The risotto was lovely, silky and deliciously fragrant with truffle and parmesan. 

When I have truffle in dishes, I often find that truffle overwhelms the dish entirely, but in this risotto dish it was not the case. The mild fragrance and aftertaste of truffle did not overwhelm or cover the risotto, instead pairing well and allowing the natural sweetness of rice and butter to shine through as much as the truffle did. 


We also ordered two main pasta dishes: 


I have had pappardelle at Jamie's before, and recommended the fresh made pasta to my friends. A decision was made to order at least one tomato based sauce, and this was absolutely lovely. 

We all especially loved the addition of crunchy breadcrumbs peppering the pasta - the pappardelle beautifully chewy (even though the shape seemed to freak my friends out a little), coated in the ràgu sauce. As with all pasta dishes, I found myself focused on the quality of freshly made pasta and how well it works with the chosen sauce - slivers of meat in a stew-like ràgu sauce, supporting the prime focus, which was the fresh pappardelle. A dish of many textures and simple flavour.


Now, this pasta dish really was conflicting to all of us. The dish was ordered because my friends really really enjoy Spaghetti Vongole, they have had it many times in other establishments, and wanted to see what Jamie's Italian brought to their version of this classic pasta dish. 

However, many of us did not find what we were looking for in this. It tasted heavily of lemon juice, with a strangely creamy, thick sauce instead of a smooth wine sauce of spaghetti vongole. The clams were sweet and fine, but we just found ourselves very much disappointed with this. My friends did not enjoy this dish at all, despite the fine quality of clams and pasta.

We also got one of the specials of the day, recommended to us by Jin, a hearty serving of grilled polenta slices on a tomato octopus stew. My little sister, who was with us of course, has a soft spot for dishes with seafood in them, particularly squid and octopus, so we decided to order it: 


It was so lovely, albeit with an unnecessary lemon slice since it was tart enough alone, with the most tender pieces of octopus in a chunky, herbed tomato sauce, pairing perfectly with the thick, crumbly pieces of polenta, grilled to hold their shape and to give them a crispy, smokey surface. 

It reminded me of fisherman food, a term I use to describe an image I have in my head of Italian fishermen just making a quick stew from the catch of the day (octopus) and instead of eating it with crusty bread they would plop some polenta on it. It would be eaten quickly in a swaying boat, seagulls cackling for piece as the sea breeze rustled their feathers.


I digress! Fully done with our mains, we moved on to desserts, and even though most of us were quite full at this point we pressed on and decided on four desserts to share, again under the recommendation of Jin: 

There is something endearing about seeing a generous serving of pie, with such a large pile of meringue on top of it. I really enjoyed this - the meringue was sweet enough to just about offset the tartness of the lemon pie, with a crunchy, nutty brittle base. 

I had a friend who tried to eat the lemon pie by itself - which was not a good idea since she is terrible with sour food. I personally really enjoyed the lemon's presence in the pie and the beautiful crunch of the pie base, as did my sister (we both really enjoy sour food). 


The two in our group really enjoyed this tiramisu - mainly because they are really good with wine and alcohol in general, which is extended to desserts. One of them doesn't really enjoy cake at all, but she really liked this tiramisu, eventually we relented and let her hog it! I credited it to the light texture of the tiramisu, which is important to many of my friends as they are not great lovers of sweets.

This was a lovely tiramisu, and quite special indeed, with more focus on the sponge layers, additional layers added in between to make it more of a trifle instead of an Italian tiramisu. Nonetheless, the coffee was lovely and soaked into every layer, working well with the cream and chocolate powder and very lovely. 


This was a hot favourite between most of the group, mostly due to the sweetness of the brownie. The ice cream was slowly soaked into the warm brownie and if you enjoy desserts you know that this can only serve to make any dessert better. 

However, I found that the elements of raspberry and amaretto did not come through as strongly as I would have liked them to, instead overpowered by the taste of chocolate and the vanilla ice cream. Sprinkled with a sort of buttery, biscuit like crumbs, this brownie was very popular with all of us, even those who did not enjoy sweet things very much. 


Our last item of the day was an adorable mug filled with cocoa powder, cream, zabaglione ice cream, and a soft sponge cake base. It was almost like a tiramisu by itself, but with a beautiful dark chocolate cream in the middle, absolutely lovely as it was a dark chocolate cream, cold and pairing well with the sponge base. 

I personally enjoyed this dessert very much, as I really love dark chocolate in desserts. Some of my friends did not like this very much as it was too bitter for them, but I ended up hogging this mug to myself in the end. The hazelnut biscotti was absolutely forgotten to me as I devoured the entire mug once my friends crinkled their noses and went back to their own favourites. 


As we winded down from our meal, Jin came back to me while my friends were off taking photos of the restaurant. She asked me for my feedback regarding our meal, we spoke briefly about her personal favourites from Jamie's Italian, and eventually we ended up discussing the issue regarding my group's disappointment at the Spaghetti Vongole served earlier. 

I expressed to Jin that the dish was extremely underwhelming to us, and even though we had no big issues with it, it was definitely not a spaghetti vongole in any sense of the word. She then appeared worried, and even distraught at my feedback, pressing me for more details - which I gave, stating to her that the sauce was much too citrusy for many of my friends and greatly destroyed what could have been a lovely spaghetti vongole. 

Jin then wrapped up the discussion with an apology, again stressing to me that my feedback was important and when she returned with my bill her floor manager (her name which I regrettably forgot) was close behind.

Jin's manager than expressed to me that she had heard from our server regarding the Spaghetti Vongole, to which I then had another discussion regarding the dish. She immediately stated to me that she would personally take the dish off my tab, and stressed to me that she did not want anyone in my group to not fully enjoy any dish Jamie's Italian served to me, hoping she would see us again so she could change our minds about the same dish. 

I was very much surprised and of course, pleased by the lengths the service staff took to make sure customers enjoyed the food and the way Jin handled the situation. 

 

We left with bellies full (we took three hours with this lunch!), and big smiles on our faces. I was glad to have experienced such lovely service, and to have impressed my friends with the standard of Jamie's Italian restaurant in Perth. 

I have read many reviews of Jamie's Italian since it opened, some of them aren't all that great. Personally I have had little issues with service or food in Jamie's Italian, and we discussed the negative reviews regarding the establishment.

The food, to me, is satisfying, but to another, it may not work out, especially if they expected something of higher quality, or have a different personal taste. Sometimes when a chef is television popular (if that is a term), people seem to have a different impression and set of expectations towards their food. It seems to me that the food is meant to be a representation of Jamie Oliver, as is the restaurant itself, that this is food that was cooked with a very large amount of personal taste, and when this is the case, it seems to underwhelm. 

I hope this review was a more enjoyable experience for my readers, whoever you are, when compared to my first review of Jamie's Italian, and I'm sure I will be back again soon, with more friends and hopefully one day, with my ma, who is also a Jamie fan and has never visited any of his restuarants. 


Jamie's Italian can be located at: 

The Mitchell Building,
140 William Street
Perth CBD
6000

08 9363 8600

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

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