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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bites: Jamie’s Italian @ Perth

Jamie Oliver has finally landed in Perth.  After many months of anticipation, queues are the only obstacle between a fan and Jamie’s magical plate of pasta.  Watching Jamie cleverly construct his 15 minute meals yet received massive scolding on his Italian pilgrimage from the noonas many umpteen years ago has made me no less a fan boy.  However, even the quickest fingers only allowed me to book a date 3 weeks later.  Upon entering, the cheerful waitress brought us to our table and introduced us to our area waitress.  Water was quick to reach and the menu was presented to us.  As for the environment of the place, it was what the little darling describe as Jamie.  It was very rustic yet it had a very cozy feel in a way friends and family would gather here.  In fact, the menu itself shouts Jamie’s trademark of describing his food with very descriptive words.  But the noise was really quite over the top in the venue.  Definitely no romantic moments here haha.


After awhile, the complimentary Italian Bread Selection was served to us (but only upon asking).  Unfortunately, the obligatory olive oil and balsamic took a little more effort to come with us having to ask them for it.  Over all, the bread basket tasted OK but failed to make an impression.  Music bread was wafer thin and I expected a good crunch to it but as it unfolded in my mouth, I found the bread has actually gone slightly soggy.  True enough, I was not the only person with such thoughts as my mates gave me the same comments. 



After looking around the menu, we ordered a few appetizers to share with the Arancini being the first to hit the table.  For $9.50, you get 3 smoked mozzarella & porcini arancini.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I was expecting massive bursty flavors from the Arancini, it was ultimately the delicious spicy salsa that brought the dish to live with its great mix of sweet-spicy along with a hint of acidity giving life to the bland arancini.  Smoked mozzarella sounded a lot better in writing compared to eaten as the flavors were a little too subtle to make any real difference.  Still not a bad treat for $10 bucks in this city though we needed 2 serves for the 6 of us.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext up were the nachos with fiery Arrabbiata sauce for $7.50.  While not your typical nachos, these crunchy cheesy goodness were absolute joy to eat despite missing out on the kick from the usual nacho mix of salsa and sort.  The fiery Arrabbiata (fear not, its quite mild), still gave great flavor which complemented the crunchy ravioli filled with creamy ricotta.  I really enjoyed this dish more than the Arancini.


Last appetizer for the table was the Pomegranate Salad @ $14.50.                                                                  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor that money it was a really meager serve of fresh salad, baby herbs & crispy salumi, with sticky balsamic & pomegranate.  But for the quality and taste that we had on the plate, it was absolutely worth it.  I have mentioned in the past that price can be offset by the quality of a dish and this is one such instance when the fresh greens and salty salumi really created wonders.  Freshness of the dish was just top notch and the sweetness of the pomegranates were also spot on.  Perhaps having an Asian background makes this appreciate this more but really, it was a great appetizer! :)!


After  a bit of chit chat, our mains finally arrived.  But one problem was spotted immediately as we were waiting.  The wait staff were not the most friendly and considering it was around 8.30pm with fewer diners around, there ought be no excuses.  Requests for water attracted the most unfriendly glare and that was such a put off.  Hope they could be more accommodating like Jamie’s smile because what we had was on a whole new level of crap service. 


Our mains for the night:

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy sister’s seafood bucatini for $29.50 is pretty good for all the seafood you get.  Generous serves of seafood including some crab, scallops, mussels, clams and prawns really gave the sauce a flavor my sister liked.  Factor in the acidity from the tomato based sauce and it suited her palate well.  For me, the highlight was the use of tubular pasta which absorbed all the flavors when cooked slowly in a foil.  Pretty yum but the serving was a little small.  My sister who is normally a small eater polished the meal easily!


My main – Truffle Turkey Milanese @ $29.50.


Unlike the pasta., this serve was awesomely generous with a large crumbled turkey stuffed with cheese and prosciutto taking up the whole plate.  It came topped with  a fried egg, truffles, cheese and for that added shot of healthiness, the watercress.  The first few bites of this dish was really nice.  Oozy cheese and prosciutto was so tasty that the turkey did not need any sauce whatsoever.  I also spread the yolk over the schnitzel and that gave it that extra richness which really help the dish hit all the right notes.  But what happens when you are halfway through and feeling a bit full?  I found little encouragement from the dish to keep me going.  It was really nice but somewhere midway, I believe most people will find the dish a little dry.  This dish as advised earlier by a friend was definitely suited to share between 2 people with a few good sides.


For my side, I ordered Jamie’s famous polenta chips @ $8.50.  This alternative to chips were no less impressive when it came to crunch.  The polenta was beautifully seasoned with salt and for me, the crunch was simply spectacular.  Not to mention the smell of the parmesan melting on the polenta’s heat.  Superb.  No wonder it is Jamie’s famous Polenta Chip!  A great side to accompany any dish except the turkey Milanese lol.  Nevertheless, this is highly recommended!  Perhaps if one ordered the Veal with the salsa, that might have been perfect! :)                                                             OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


The little darling went on a little overload tonight due to her curious taste buds.  Her first main for the night was the Wild Truffle Risotto (entrée size) @ $13.50.                                                                                                                           OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI do not think I can put in  a different way compared to the menu.  Described as  “a real treat” with finely minced truffle, butter and Parmesan, it really was.  Delicious butter made the risotto silky rich and very creamy.  The rice were still very much intact but just had that creaminess from the sauce.  Darling thought it was yums although she found it a little salty towards the end!


Her next main was Jamie’s classic take on a good old Italian Tagliatelle Bolognese @ $12.50 for entrée size.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs simple as it sounds, yet when someone tells you that they have made Pasta Bolognese, a good Bolognese needs heaps of love.  Perfect caramelisation of a celery, onion and carrot medley before slow cooking the melt in your mouth Pancetta and quality ground beef.  In my opinion Jamie’s version quite nailed it although for me, I like a little more acidity in the melt-in-your-mouth Ragu.  The herby crumbs gave it good flavor and texture although it worked more for the latter.  My biggest dislike of the dish was how the pasta was done perfectly al dente.  It was crunchier then I expected.  For me, definitely a silky Parpadelle over this or perhaps just 2 more minutes in the pot for the Tagliatelle!


The next dish on our table was the Steak Tagliata.                                                                                                         OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABiggest complain of this dish from JS was not the beautifully cooked steak or the rustic greens, but rather the lack of visibility of the meat.  This makes it seem as if there was almost no steak.  But true enough there was steak but not quite enough as the menu also stated 180g only.  Over all though, the flavors were great and the crunchy vegetables were really quite good according to JS.  I would expect so too considering all the various textures with the crunchy fennel, watercress, mint, chili, garlic, horseradish & lemon! :)!


The last two pastas we had on the table was the Spaghetti Vongole and the Black Angel Spaghetti.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFishman did not need to be convinced to go further down the menu when he saw this on there.  Steamed sweet cockles with garlic, chili, white wine, parsley, butter & lemon.  All the magical ingredients that help seafood shine in its simplest form was on there.  The result should have been truly outstanding.  And putting aside a major complain, the flavors really spoke for themselves.  It was just really good.  It is a type of pasta that you would go for second or thirds unlike a cloying cream based one.  Unfortunately it was the saltiness that was a put off.  It was so salty we had to ask them to remake this pasta.  Speaking of which it came back saltier and Fishman was so unimpressed he could not be bothered asking for a new one.  This definitely needs fixing.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYv’s order for the night is something no less spectacular in terms of flavors.  Scallops and other seafood were beautifully cooked in a seafood based broth that really excited the taste buds.  The squid ink pasta was also really nice, it was smooth and not sandy like some which I had eaten before.  Its color as well was really dark.  Nero!  However, similar to the  Pasta Vongolese, this turned out extremely salty too.  To our dismay, the waitress exclaimed that “it is meant to be salty, so it is just going to be salty even if it was made again”.  At that point, it felt no less than a slap on our faces.  We told you it was salty, so please go back and fix it.  Do not make unnecessary statements please? 


After a disappointing meal for both Yv and Fishman, I would not believe that they would bother with the Jamie hype anymore.  This was quite saddening for them as they were rather chuffed when we landed a booking.  From my point of view, it suddenly felt as if all the numbers of wait staff did not really make a difference to the dining experience if some of them continued to be immature.  More importantly, to insist that something that is bad will only come out as bad shows how amateurish they were in the kitchen and on the floor.  The waitress ought a rethink to be honest.  Also, it might be OK if we were the only ones with problems but from reading other reviews, many diners had similar problems too!


Putting bad experiences aside, Fishman decided to give Jamie’s one last shot at retaining its pride, the desserts.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For his dessert, he ordered a trio of sorbet @ $8 which turned out to be a sorbet of apple, passion fruit and blood orange.  This for him was his highlight of the night.  It was refreshing, with the fruity flavors hitting all the right notes.  It has sweet, sour and a slight bitterness with the blood orange but over all, it was perfect.  He was happy.  Or at least I hope he was haha.


For my sis and I, we decided to go with something sour to give us a little kick.  We both ordered the Lemon tutti frutti.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe meringue on top was not quite as good as I expected but the lemon curd was still every bit satisfying.  My sister on the other hand was not quite impresssed.  But hey, for $8.50 it was hard to complain.  My tart would have been at least $10 at Nahm Thai and is easily $15 dollars at Guillaume’s Bistro.


Yv’s dessert was the Tiramisu @ $9.50.  If you are  a big fan of coffee, this is for you.  For me, I would have preferred something more subtle to end the night with.  This was by contrast rich, and intense in coffee flavor.  Downfall?  The sponge needed a lot more moisture.  At least twice as much soaking time.  What was even more appalling was the fact that it was not moist yet it was served as if it was so sloppy it could not stand.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATiramisu.


The little darling’s Poached Winter Fruits with Frozen Vanilla Yoghurt @ $10.                                                             OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a hearty dessert which darling thought was quite nice.  I tasted a little and found it quite nice although I did not feel it was anything extraordinary. 


Over all, my experience at Jamie’s Italian was pretty good.  While Yv and Fishman had something to lament about, I was lucky enough to have made the right choices and had a really good evening despite the poor service.  To be honest, I felt that the evening could have been more pleasant if the waitress could accommodate our complaints and made improvements.  Saying that, who not be tired of trying to get to the flavors of the pasta if we had to face a mound of salt in each mouth. I mean like seriously?  It is about the salt.  UNLESS, everything was pre-made in a large pot then there is no real remedy.  Despite these hit and misses, there were some real questions such as the pricing which have garnered heaps of praises for this new kid on the block.  A meal at Jamie’s can be really cheap or really normal (considering Perth’s ludicrous prices).  If one goes for a simple 2-course, it can be as cheap as 30 dollars but if you had the full course, it might be closer to $60 depending on what you choose.  Reasonable or not, it is up to your wallet :)!  For me, it presented an above average quality for its price and would definitely re-visit if I land a booking or manage to go really early and skip the queue.


There you go, a review of Jamie’s Italian in about 5 pages. Even I am sick of reading what I type =.=!



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