Jamie’s Italian re-run

Nothing annoys me more than wasting a voucher, not a discount voucher but a prepaid voucher card with an expiry date. Luckily for us Jamie’s Italian gift vouchers don’t have an expiry but we were using up a Dendy voucher before it expired so we thought we’d continue on downstairs with our voucher run.

For once we were able to get a seat inside and considering it was 38 degrees outside, it was a happy change of scenery. The menu looked like it had changed since I had last been (I didn’t blog the last three visits), but TimmyC just made sure that they still had his good ol’ favourite tagliatelle pasta and he was set.

Can you spot your favourites in the new menu layout?IMG_7187.JPGCrispy prawns wrapped in angel hair pasta with tomato, basil and chilli sauce ($14.50). I chose this as a last-minute impulse even though I agreed with TimmyC that all we needed was one entree and two main sized pastas because we weren’t that hungry after popcorn consumption and it was so hot outside. I should have stuck with that decision as I felt that this dish was disappointing. Sure the pasta gave the prawns a crunch but the prawns weren’t particular big or sweet. Don’t be put off by the black squid ink looking sauce, it was a really creamy mayo and was the only saving grace of the dish.IMG_7196.JPGBaked mushroom swiss browns with crispy music bread and smoked buffalo mozzarella ($15.50). This is one of TimmyC’s favourite entrees but we both had split opinions that day; I thought it was better than usual and TimmyC didn’t really enjoy it. I really like mild flavours of the mushrooms and mozzarella against the crispy textures of the bread.IMG_7200.JPGTagliatelle bolognese ragu of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti and parmesan with crunchy herby breadcrumbs ($19.50). This is our ‘go to’ dish when we go to Jamie’s Italian, it isn’t because it is the best bolognese we’ve had but it’s one of the better things that we have tried and I really enjoy the crunchy herby breadcrumbs.IMG_7202.JPGI think TimmyC enjoys this more than me, as a personal preference I enjoy my bolognese with more meat.IMG_7203.JPGPolpetta spaghetti beef and pork meatballs, tomatoes, garlic and red wine ($18.00). Why oh why do I stray from the usual, I guess the food blogger inside of me wishes to make a new found discovery of something else that is delicious on the menu but I really didn’t enjoy this. As soon as I put a bite in my mouth, I knew the pasta was too under cooked for me, it was even a tad before al dente. The meatballs were a tad dry and bland but I enjoyed how they gave me a big spoonful of the herby crunchy stuff. I was too hot and bothered to complain and I didn’t finish my plate (which usually never happens).IMG_7205.JPGIt looked so promising before I had a taste.IMG_7207.JPGA dissection of the beef and pork meatball.IMG_7210.JPGI’m surprised that Jamie’s Italian is open during this window period but maybe it is to cash in on the holidays when most things won’t be open. I remember the days where you just eat yourself silly and spend time with friends and family  at home because nothing was open but now boxing day sales start early and even the cinemas are open!IMG_7191.JPGI find it puzzling about where this place goes wrong; the menu looks good, the staff are friendly and attentive, I guess it is mainly the execution of the food. The weird thing is that it isn’t the worst Italian I’ve ever eaten, would I have been this critical if Jamie Oliver’s name wasn’t attached to the restaurant? I guess that’s the problem with trusting another chef with your name branded over a restaurant, it is situations like this that have stopped famous chefs like Adrianno Zumbo from opening a store in Canberra, they need someone who they can trust to consistently create a product of high calibre that they would be happily be associated with.

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Jamie’s Italian – dessert

My friend couldn’t get into Jamie’s Italian for dinner while she was in town so I didn’t think she should have to miss out all together, so after Mr. Wei’s we walked over without a reservation to enjoy some dessert. I had only had one dessert here previously and it was one of the best things of the meal so I wasn’t hesitant to try the rest of the dessert menu.

Jamie’s Italian Epic Brownie warm fudgy brownie with amaretto ice cream & caramelised amaretti popcorn ($10.00). The amaretto might have been subtle but for someone who doesn’t like the flavour, it was too much. This dessert was very OTT, rich and very filling.

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Trifle fresh strawberries with strawberry jelly, custard & glazed Italian meringue ($10.00). It was hard to scoop through all the layers without making a mess around the tall glass. This is a classic old school dessert but there wasn’t anything special about it except for its glazed Italian meringue hat.

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Panna cotta lovely wobbly panna cotta served with a compote of seasonal fruits ($8.50). Probably the nicest dessert of the night, it was very wobbly, not overly sweet with simple flavours.20140223-224459.jpg

Not all these desserts are for me but that means that there is a nice variety on the menu. So far the raspberry frangipane with fresh raspberries & almond filling with creme fraiche ice cream & berry drizzle is my favourite dessert on the menu, followed closely by the panna cotta.

Jamie’s Italian re-run

—– 23rd Dec 2013 —–
Another day, another early bird special without a booking, this time with the more ambitious number of 6 patrons. I was browsing dresses when I get the following text message from a friend: “you have 5 minutes to get here before they give away our table”. I put the dresses on hold and run down stairs to the outside area of Jamie’s Italian. It is a bit of a squeeze but all of us managed to fit around the table.

Drinks~

‘Refresher’ mocktail – fresh lemon, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade ($6.50). This had a lot of lemon juice which made it crazy sour which is not what it tasted like when I ordered it during my previous visit. I think that these mocktails are very inconsistent and the bar staff need to taste them before sending them out.20131226-181736.jpg

Entrees~

Italian bread selection homemade rosemary foccacia, Italian grissini, crispy ‘music bread’ & ciabatta from our bakery. All served with Rylstone extra virgin olive oil & aged balsamic. $1 from every bread tin we serve is donated to Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia ($1.50). Since there was 6 of us we just ordered three serves for the table, it wasn’t enough to satisfy our want for also getting entrees, so this was just a starter while we were browsing the menus.

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Baked mushrooms swiss browns with crispy “music bread” and smoked buffalo mozzarella ($14.50). As the waiter places down my entree and I danced about take photos of everyone else’s food, he mentions he loves this dish even though he doesn’t like mushrooms. That’s the thing about Jamie’s Italian, all the waiters and waitresses all have their favourites and are not afraid to tell you.

It was a great medley of mushrooms and herbs, although I’m not quite sure about the thin base. When there is no mushrooms on it, it comes brittle and hard (around the edges of the dish) but when it is the base with mushrooms, it becomes really soggy and hard to eat. The cheese is really subtle and I wish there was more salt to this.20140114-230655.jpg

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Crispy squid fried quid garlicky may and lemon ($12.50). Due to an ordering error from the waitress, only one of these were served so we cancelled the one that was never put through to the kitchen and we were given more bread complimentary (we still had to pay for the previous bread, they just gave us an extra box for free). These had a nice light batter that went really well with the sauce, unfortunately the portion size was really small.

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Crispy tomato and mozzarella arancini stuffed rice balls with pickled red chillies, spicy arrabbiata sauce and parmesan ($10.50).20131226-181657.jpg

Tagliatelle bolognese ragù of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti & parmesan with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs (entree size $13.00, I didn’t take a photo of the main size but it was much bigger than the previous main serve that we ordered). Tim took another risk and re-ordered the same thing that disappointed us so much last time we were here. This time it was much much better! The crumb was crunchy, pasta was perfect and the bolognese sauce itself was fantastic as always. 20131226-181726.jpg

Simple baked lasagne slow-cooked beef & pork with roasted squash, herbs & wine, baked in an oozy white sauce with tomatoes, mozzarella & Parmesan ($21.00). I steered clear of previous menu items hoping to try something new that night. The lasagna didn’t have the same sauce as the bolognese otherwise this would have been spectacular. I didn’t understand the constant addition of rocket to all the pastas; I just tossed it aside. There was nothing special about this dish; it wasn’t particularly cheesy, the red sauce was mediocre and I didn’t feel that there was much white sauce. I got more enjoyment from eating from TimmyC’s plate.

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Italian farm sausage grilled pork sausage flavoured with red wine & spices, served with sweet & sour capsicums, capers, chilli & garlic ($23.00). My friend liked this as much as I ‘liked’ my lasagna. It tasted a bit ‘herby’ but it was missing something, a chutney or sauce perhaps? My friend didn’t even eat half of this, I think he got bored with the meal or he was completely underwhelmed.

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The Jamie’s Italian burger Aussie Black Angus steak with smoked mozzarella, pancetta, sticky balsamic onions, tomato, pickles and chillies ($19.50). My friend really enjoyed her burger but I still think by looking at it, that the bun to meat ratio is all wrong.

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The back of the burger looks less appetizing.

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Spaghetti alla norma a classic Sicilian pasta dish of eggplant, oregano, chilli & basil, all in a rich tomato sauce.

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Sides~

Our famous polenta chips crispy fried with rosemary and parmesan ($8.50). The polenta chips were rather nice, exactly the same to the Sydney store; they were crispy, salty and you wouldn’t think that they were made from polenta.

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The staff were nice and friendly as always, the food came out promptly, the only thing that was disappointing were some of the dishes, there were more ‘misses’ than ‘hits’. I’m not completely sold on this place yet.

Jamie’s Italian – Canberra

—–13th Dec 2013—–

I don’t usually go in a restaurant on a Friday night and not have a reservation, that is just asking for a laugh in the face and I’m not good with rejection, but at Jamie’s Italian Canberra they have a different booking system where they have several tables set aside for ‘walk-ins’ i.e. the people who were weren’t fast enough/organised enough to book ahead.

My friend and I arrive at the ‘early bird special’ time of 5:15pm with only having 2 out of the 3 people there for dinner. They said they couldn’t offer anything to us until we were all there, “that’s fine, we will have a drink at the bar”. As we were watching the millions of wait staff whizz around us, one of them handed us a buzzer, as soon as it goes off our table would be ready. ‘That’s nice’ I thought considering we weren’t one of the hoards of people gathering in the doorway waiting in line. Before we even took two sips of our drink, the buzzer goes off and we are led to a table outside (even with one person still missing).

The trendy set up they have inside the restaurant.20131215-114404.jpgLots of staff working at the bar and around the restaurant.20131215-114454.jpg

20131215-114442.jpg‘Refresher’ mocktailfresh lemon, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade ($6.50). A little bit sour but very refreshing, appropriately named. It is packed with a lot of ice so if you don’t drink it quick, the ice melts and it tastes very watery.20131215-114419.jpgIt is hot outside and I’m not talking about ‘a whiny girl who doesn’t like heat’ kinda hot, I’m talking about ‘afternoon sun, we had to eat with our sunglasses on and my head of black hair was burning’ type of hot. The outdoor seats aren’t ideal when the sun hasn’t lowered beneath the surrounding buildings but I was going to take whatever seat was available. After about 45 minutes it was okay.20131215-114535.jpg

20131215-114513.jpgEntrees~

Italian bread selection homemade rosemary foccacia, Italian grissini, crispy ‘music bread’ & ciabatta from our bakery. All served with Rylstone extra virgin olive oil & aged balsamic. $1 from every bread tin we serve is donated to Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia ($1.50). When I last went to the Sydney store, their bread is complimentary but I much prefer this idea where you pay a bit and most of it goes to a good cause. A nice selection of bread with freshly poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the table. Easy to order ahead and nibble at while you’re staring at the menu.20131215-114627.jpgCrispy tomato and mozzarella arancini stuffed rice balls with pickled red chillies, spicy arrabbiata sauce and parmesan ($10.50). The arancini balls were crispy and I really enjoyed the arrabiata sauce underneath, although it wasn’t too spicy. This was the better entree of the two.20131215-114549.jpgFried three-cheese gnocchi delicious crunchy gnocchi with a fiery arrbbiata dip ($9.50). The gnocchi was crispy but I felt I couldn’t really taste the cheeses and the saltiness. I found the sauce was just really tomato-y and it tasted better with the sauce from the arancini balls.20131215-114610.jpgMains~

Rainbow trout Aqua Pazza beautiful Goulburn Valley Rainbow Trout cooked whole in Gennaro’s Aqua Pazza with chilli, garlic, gaetta olives and capers finished off with juicy cherry tomatoes and parsley ($28.50). We had ordered this under false pretenses. We asked what the fish of the day was and the waiter said it was a whole snapper blah blah blah, snapper sounds good so that’s what we ordered. When they put it down and I was taking photos of it from the tail end, I said to my friend ‘sweetie, I’m no fisherman but I don’t think that is a snapper’, we lifted up the skin to find pink flesh, no that is definitely not a snapper. It also came with a lot of olives, tomato and capers which my friend was not fond of, it was sitting in a sauce that looked very buttery but it wasn’t salty and buttery. I asked a passing by waitress that we had expected a snapper and we got the trout and she said that the waiter got it wrong, the snapper was yesterday’s fish of the day. We weren’t too overly impressed with the situation or the dish. Trout has a lot of little bones which also made it hard to eat.20131215-114718.jpgMy hand for a size reference, I would like to state again that I do not have man hands so it is not a size illusion.20131215-114705.jpg

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A size comparison between a main meal bolognese and an entree sized prawn linguine. My serve of pasta looked just as big as TimmyC which I was surprised to find. I don’t know if I got a lot more than expected or if he got ripped off.20131215-114644.jpgPrawn linguine juicy pan-fried garlicky Spencer Gulf prawns served with tomatoes, chilli, rocket & fennel (entree size $16.00). I just saw prawns and chose this dish so I wasn’t quite sure what I was eating when I came across this odd shape in my pasta, was it pasta that hadn’t been cut properly? A parmesan piece that had melted onto multiple strands of pasta? I had to look up on my photos what it said on the menu – fennel, of course! I don’t think the fennel added anything to the dish other than confusion, the prawns were cut up little pieces rather than whole and the sauce just tasted tomato-y plain and boring without any hint of chilli. It was much better in Sydney, I don’t know why it was at least similar in Canberra being the same menu item and all.20131215-114852.jpgWe weren’t quite sure what this was until we looked it up.20131215-115013.jpgTagliatelle bolognese ragù of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti & parmesan with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs (main meal size $19.50). Every time we go to a Jamie’s Italian, TimmyC just looks for a bolognese on the menu and then he has decided. Canberra uses tagliatelle while the Sydney store had spaghetti, but he didn’t mind, he likes them both. The sauce itself was a beautiful rich base and I could really taste a wine or something in the after taste, the breadcrumbs didn’t really have much of a crunch for me as it did in Sydney. The disappointing part was the pasta itself. It is great that they make all the pasta on site but this was cooked under al dente, I prefer mine soft and TimmyC prefers al dente but even he said that this was too hard for him. It was made worse by the fact that a lot of the pasta clumped together in 3 to 4 strands forming an even harder to eat dish, I ended up just pushing the pasta aside and eating the sauce when TimmyC was done.20131215-114934.jpgMy friend and I only had enough stomach real estate for one dessert between us, so we had to make it count. We crossed off all the desserts that you could get in other restaurants and narrowed it down to two.

Dessert~

Raspberry Frangipane fresh raspberries & almond filling with creme fraiche ice cream & berry drizzle ($8.50). When they put the dessert down, it wasn’t the most appetizing looking but this dessert was fantastic. The cake was moist, the sauce was surprisingly strong in flavour and it went really well together. The creme fraiche ice cream was a bit interesting, the slight sourness balanced out the sweetness of the cake and sauce. I would really recommend this dessert.20131215-115118.jpg

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20131215-115127.jpgAs I asked for the bill, I also asked if I could browse the kids menu, after all I didn’t know when or if I was going to ever dine with children here and I wanted to peer through the cutesy old school ViewMaster. The children get a good menu selection, even I would have chosen some myself, I love the awesome idea of layering the salads in jars to make it more appealing for kids to eat.

Kid’s menu
Chicken lollipops
Mini sliders
Spag Bol
Mac n cauli cheese
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The antipasto kitchen prep area.20131215-115304.jpg

The bread box preparation area.20131215-115320.jpg The bill comes out in a bread box and the outer card showing a range of Jamie’s Italian souvenirs that you can purchase for home.20131215-115248.jpgI don’t usually do a George Costanza toilet review but I found it very amusing that they had their own  personalised set of toilets when all the neighbouring restaurants have their bathroom with the public mall. You walk up stairs and the ceiling is so low, you feel like Alice in Wonderland. ‘Nice buns’ hehehehe.20131215-115353.jpg

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This place has more of a casual vibe than the Sydney store, see my Sydney experience here. When you sit down you are not rushed at all, there is no time limit or next table booking in 45 minutes, so we took our merry time as tables around us came and went. The staff were friendly, not always attentive as they rush around but always happy to stop if you ask them for something.

People are always surprised about the prices to the restaurant because of Jamie’s name associated with it but I also feel that people just want to come here because of the name association and because it is new rather than because of the food.

The restaurant as a whole was an okay pleasant experience although sitting outside on those seats in a prolonged period of time really hurts your bum. I was rather disappointed with the food other than the dessert, we might have had a bad run so I am willing to come back again.

Venue: Jamie’s Italian

Address:  125 Bunda Street, Civic, ACT (Canberra Centre, under the Dendy Cinema)

Phone: (02) 6268 0400

Opening times: 11:30am – 11:00pm daily

Websitehttp://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/australia/canberra

Booking process: book online, ring the restaurant if there is less than 9 people and if you can’t get a booking, they have tables set aside for walk ins although you have less of a wait time if you go super early like we did or later after 8:30pm.

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Jamie’s Italian – Sydney

——-12/05/2012——-

With what started out as a Mother’s day celebration turned out to be an eating marathon. After eating a yum cha brunch at Marigold, we had planned for a late lunch at Jamie’s Italian restaurant. We had a booking for 6 people at 2:15pm (they only take bookings for 6 or more people) but because there only ended up being 4 of us we had to stand and wait in line again. Even at 2:15pm, it was still another 30minute wait and even then they refused to seat us because all our party wasn’t there yet. So we had to wait an extra 15 minutes for one more person.

We were too late to watch the pasta making in the front window so there was nothing to do but stand around on the street waiting or if you were lucky enough to get a seat just inside the entrance you can order a drink while waiting for your table.

By the time we sat down it was 3pm and dinner was booked for 6:15pm, I rang my sister to push it back, I finally got to Jamie’s and there was a lot I wanted to try!

Seated and ready to eat!

Drinks~

Pear Bellini ($11) 

Refresher with elderflower, lemon and cranberry ($6.50)

Strawberry & elderflower topped off with sparkling mineral water ($4.10)

Latte ($4.35)

Complimentary Italian Bread selection~

Homemade rosemary focaccia, artisan sourdough, ciabatta & tortano from our bakery with crispy carta di musica. 

Don’t forget to ask for it if the waiters forget to bring one to you. A variety of bread served with extra virgin olive oil & aged balsamic.

Mains~

Pasta- All our beautiful pasta is freshly made right here every day with love. 

Spaghetti bolognese-  The old-school classic ragù of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti & Parmesan with crunchy herby breadcrumbs (main size $19.00) Really delicious, surprisingly not that tomato-ey and rather meaty. There was a nice balance between sauce and pasta.

Prawn linguine- Juicy pan-fried garlicky local prawns served with tomatoes, chilli, rocket & fennel (small size $16.00) Perfect al dente pasta with a simple yet very tasty sauce.

Turbo penne arrabiata- Curly penne tossed in sweet tomato sauce spiced with chilli, garlic & Parmesan with herby breadcrumbs (small size $10.50) This had a nice chilli kick to it.

Buffalo ricotta ravioli- Delicate parcels stuffed with creamed ricotta, lemon, mint & Parmesan. Pure heaven (small size $14.00) Subtle buttery flavours with a citrus twist.

Sides~

Crispy polenta chips- With rosemary salt & Parmesan ($8.50) These chips had a yummy crispy  texture and went really well with the aioli that was served with the mushroom fritti.

Mushroom fritti- Our own-grown crispy fried mushrooms with garlicky mayo ($9.00) With a subtle mushroom after taste, these fritti are like little crispy chips.

Desserts~

Creamy panna cotta- Lovely wobbly panna cotta served with a compote of seasonal fruits ($8.50) A very jiggly dessert with a nice vanilla bean taste accompanied with stewed fruit.

The ultimate brownie- Chocolate, raspberry & amaretto brownie with vanilla ice cream ($8.50) As we were munching away on our panna cotta I noticed the table next to us were sharing a brownie. I leaned over and asked if it was worth ordering. “Order two if you can!” was the response, brilliant! But I thought I’d just start off with one.  It was as gooey as it is in the picture, the perfect warm dessert during a cloudy cold day. A warm moist chocolate centre with a subtle berry taste.The ice-cream was very smooth and off sets the very chocolate-y and sweet brownie but by itself it wasn’t anything special.

and then we ordered another panna cotta… Strangely enough, not as good as the first one. It varied in texture and the taste in fruit.

You could ‘take a piece of Jamie’s Italian home with you‘ with a variety of merchandise available from Jamie’s endless book selection to the cute tea towels.

The good thing is that once you’re in, there is no rushing anyone out. The service was really friendly but just have to be assertive enough to flag down one of the busy wait staff if you need something.

If you don’t care when you eat and you want to try this place out without waiting in a line, I suggest coming around 4pm (we went on a Saturday) as there were some empty tables about.


Venue: Jamie’s Italian

Address: CBD, 107 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

Phone: (02) 8240 9000

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