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.

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
Happy fish fingers 20131215-115217.jpg

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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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Just add Jamie: capital may be latest city to serve up pukka tukka

Just add Jamie: capital may be latest city to serve up pukka tukka

Megan Doherty May 24, 2012

Jamie Oliver

One of the world’s most recognisable chefs, Jamie Oliver, may soon be bringing his ”pukka tukka” to Canberra, with confirmation his representatives in Australia are actively looking for a restaurant site in the national capital.

Pacific Restaurant Group managing director Adam Heathcote told The Canberra Times yesterday the 37-year-old English chef was looking to open at least a second Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Australia by next year and Canberra was in the mix.

There are 27 Jamie’s Italian restaurants in Britain, but only three located internationally: Sydney, Dubai and Dublin. Rumours that a Jamie’s Italian would go in the Canberra Centre at the second-level site of the now-closed Border’s book shop was scotched by Mr Heathcote, who said the restaurant would have to be at ground level, and they still had to find that perfect location.

”We know Canberra people would love us to be there and consequently we’d love to be there,” he said, adding ”it’s certainly a city that sits very high on our Desire to Be There List”.

The Pacific Restaurant Group holds the development agreement in Australia and New Zealand for Jamie’s Italian restaurants.