I was very excited when a few weeks ago I found out that Jamie Oliver was opening a restaurant in Sydney. Jamie's Italian only opened its doors to the public on Monday, but my partner-in-crime MC and I decide to give it a shot before it gets too busy as people are only slowly finding out that it has opened.
It's Wednesday at 6.45pm and we're told it'll take fifteen minutes to get a table for two. We're happy to wait, so we order a Rossini (vino frizzante with red berry purée) and a Bellini (vino frizzante with peach purée) for $9 each. Both are good, but nothing to frantically phone home about.
From Pitt Street, you can watch pasta being freshly made through the window. Lovely idea, which I find is reminiscent of Din Tai Fung or Chefs Gallery where you can be the hungry voyeur of handmade noodles and dumplings. Jamie Oliver's books are displayed on a bookshelf beside the bar. Further inside the restaurant there's also a shelf with other Jamie Oliver merchandise – mugs, tea towels, napkins and the like.
The first thing we notice is that our waiter is unbelievably attractive. And we can also see that the women at other tables are alternating between twirling their hair, batting their eyelashes and giggling like schoolgirls. But let's not get carried away – we're here to taste the food, not devour the waitstaff.
But the overall vibe is urban and almost outdoorsy. There are graffiti'd walls, lightbulbs in jars, a steel cage-like railing, mismatched chairs and toilet doors that are spraypainted with "W' or "M". The lighting is dim and intimate, but the restaurant is quite large. It's long and narrow, accommodating up to 200 diners.
We order a few dishes to share between the two of us. The prosciutto dish (salad of prosciutto, rocket, crisp pear, toasted pine nuts and pecorino with an olive oil and balsamic dressing) has a superb combination of fresh ingredients and the dressing is just perfect. I can't fault this dish at all.
I knew that we had to try a pasta dish because the pasta is freshly made everyday. And the ravioli stuffed with creamed ricotta, lemon, mint and parmesan is an excellent choice. Albeit slightly undercooked, the flavours of the lemon and the ricotta are absolutely divine. My favourite dish of the night.
The mushrooms have a smoky, earthy tang that I like, but the 'music bread' is soggy in the middle. It's crunchy on the sides, which adds a nice dimension to the texture of the dish. But I have to say the Baked Mushrooms aren't a standout dish compared to our other choices.
We don't notice until we're about to order dessert that we didn't get any bread. I work for Brasserie Bread (which is how I found out about Jamie's Italian opening this week), so I know that there's meant to be complimentary Brasserie Bread sourdough and ciabatta. Regardless, we're feeling pretty satisfied and content at this point. Our meal isn't quite complete without dessert though.
The Pineapple Carpaccio ($7.50) is intriguing and a pleasant surprise. Who knew that paper-thin pineapple with chilli and blood orange sorbet would go so well together? I was anticipating it to be spicy and MC was imagining it to yield some bitterness from the blood orange. We turn out to be completely wrong. There's no heat from the chilli, only flavour because the seeds are removed. And the blood orange sorbet isn't bitter, just sweet (and slightly sour of course). Absolutely gorgeous dish that I highly recommend.
Then it's time for the Panna Cotta ($8.50), which is silky and smooth. It's a deliciously creamy dessert that's generous with vanilla beans accompanied by a wonderful berry compote. MC and I are ooh-ing and ah-ing at this one with delight. Both our dessert choices get our tick of approval. They're the perfect ending to our meal.
My only disappointment is that I didn't get to try all the other dishes. I'm especially intrigued by the Brioche Con Gelato (toasted Brasserie Bread brioche, lemon marmellata, lemon and strawberry ice cream).
Went there with our kids on Monday night. Our three girls had Lasagne & Spaghetti bolognese. Both dishes had an excellent rich ragu and understandably fresh pasta - needless to say they woofed it!
My wife and I shared the entree size prawn linguini, the baked mushrooms,polenta chips and a salad and we backed it all up with Tiramisu & gelato. Initially we got the 15 min routine from the front desk but when we explained that we could squeeze two adults & three kids on to a table for four we were seated straight away.Service was very friendly and fast. At $20 per head average for food we were pretty happy.
Would you actually go again, Sarah? Lied to, left to wait an hour and a quarter, missed bread, only passable food, pseudo-trendy decor. You've made sure that I won't be setting foot anywhere near the place. It just sounds like another pretentious TV-chef eatery.
Have now given it a go, and I wasn't impressed. The atmosphere was interesting, and the service was acceptable, but the food was disappointing.
The three entree's I shared with my dining companion were all bland. My main - the Prosciutto, Pear & Pecorino salad - was terrible. Great quality prosciutto, but the dish overall lacked balance and subtlety of flavour. The pear was soggy.
This place seems to be cashing in on the Jamie Oliver brand to sell mediocre Italian fare for premium prices.
Tried to go here but was put off by the queue, spoke to one guy who had been standing outside for close on an hour and a half waiting, not for me ...will go there when the queues ease a bit. More details here http://:foodwinesleep.com.au
I work in the next building, and I can tell you, people are queuing around the block for this place almost every night of the week! Not sure whether that's a reflection of quality, or just the attraction of the 'Jamie Oliver' brand, but nevertheless I'm finding it increasingly tempting to jump on the end of the line.