Freelance writer specialising in serendipity: the art of finding wonderful things by accident or sagacity. Comments and suggestions always welcome!
Published May 9th 2013
The global gourmet chef gets it right
Perth loves Jamie Oliver and if the quality of the food at Jamie's Italian is any indication, he loves us right back. Since opening at the end of March, the restaurant has been the hottest spot in town. No one I knew had been there, so I decided it was time to see if all the hype was, well, just hype. Reservations weren't possible but how crowded could it be at 5:30 on a Monday night?
As you see, the answer is: very crowded. However, in the first display of the consistently professional service, a staff member came out and gave us estimated waiting times. Some people left but most proceeded to the reservation desk. There we had a choice to take a pager and wait in the bar or leave a phone number and go elsewhere. We opted to spend the estimated hour and a quarter in the bar.
The bar is a long narrow space directly opposite the entrance. There are a limited number of stools along a small counter but we were lucky enough to get a seat on a banquette at the back wall. The drinks menu has a good selection of Italian wines, cocktails and quirky soft drinks. I ordered homemade lemonade and lime bitters and my friend had a glass of Chianti. We also ordered a serve of Seasonal Veg Crudités on Ice. In addition to this, twice during the time we were in the bar waitstaff came around offering a plank with a selection of dips, olives, bread and salami. They even went to the queue outside. Nice.
Just on 7 pm we were seated at a window table and a waitress took our order about ten minutes later. I ordered an antipasto plank of Cured and Crispy Fish and a main of Wild Mushroom ravioli. My friend chose an entrée of Blue Swimmer Crab Risotto with Veal Saltimbocca for the main. We added another glass of wine and a non-alcoholic ginger mojito. The waitress returned with a small basket of bread sticks, ciabatta and thin 'music bread' drizzled with olive oil and balsamic. Very welcome, and yes, it's free.
We now had time to take in our surroundings and one problem was immediately apparent: noise. The large room has a wooden floor, metal tables and concrete pillars dotted around, and an open kitchen at one end. All these hard surfaces combined with a full house made conversation difficult. When the waitress brought my entrée she described each item in detail. Unfortunately I couldn't hear most of it. Still, the fish was crisply fried and the shellfish had a fresh chili bite. The mackerel pate was outstanding, smoky, rich and creamy with a hint of brine. My friend was a bit surprised by the spiciness of her risotto but when I checked the menu later I noticed it mentioned a chilli topping.
When the mains arrived they were even better. I loved the ravioli. The tomato and mushroom sauce was thick and rich and the ricotta-filled pasta was silky and perfectly cooked. (All the pasta is made fresh on the premises.) My friend's veal was a touch dry but tender and well-seasoned.
The portions weren't huge but they were ample enough. We decided we had room to split a dessert and ordered a piece of Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue pie. The meringue was crisp on top and soft as marshmallow underneath, the lemon was tangy and the bits of pistachio brittle added a delicious crunch. All this and our bill for the evening was a very reasonable $122.
Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue
Overall, Jamie's Italian is a welcome addition to Perth's casual dining scene and it mostly lives up to the hype. The food is fresh and well-cooked and the efficient, professional service is something to which more local restaurants should aspire. The main drawbacks are the noise and the long wait. Some bookings are taken but when I checked the first available was several months away. If you want to avoid the queue, I'd suggest a late lunch on a weekday would be the best time. Enjoy!
Yes my husband and 4 year old were lucky enough to get in on my birthday and we had to be there by 5.45pm or our table would be forfeited. It is fantastic for kids! A view finder is given as their menu! How cool is that...and she got a badge that said "I ate all my Greens at Jamie's". The staff are amazing. They tell you exactly where everything comes from, local or otherwise. I have made 3 more bookings! Yes they are a few months away but who cares! I plan on being a regular
I found Jamie's to be fabulous and wasn't put off by the wait. Service was well above average for Perth and the food was delicious. Free bread was a very welcome surprise and something others ought to consider! (used to be the norm). I agree wholeheartedly with the noise factor but overall, it wouldn't deter me from going back again :)
I have been there twice now. The first time the food and service were great, despite the hour wait for a table. The second time I was disappointed. My calamari entree was overcooked, which tasted rubbery. My main of canelloni was also slightly overcooked, looking dried out on top. I wouldn't order either of these dishes if I go again. I was disappointed with the service on the second occasion as well, not receiving any of the breads and the waiter "dumping" the desert on the table.