A Sydney Exploration: Jamie’s Italian

The first and last time I visited a celebrity chef establishment was Jamie’s Italian in London with good friend Erushi during our whirlwind Europe holiday some 2 years ago. The experience, as you might read here, was not to our expectations and I left with regret that I had not enjoyed the visit as much as I had hoped.

So it would seem extra fitting that we would visit Jamie’s Italian while we were in Sydney. For one, it was open on ANZAC Day and located conveniently in the CBD. And after such a light breakfast, my stomach was holding me for ransom and demanding I provide tasty sustenance stat lest it implode upon me.

Besides, we had been pressed body to body against the wall of human sentinels watching the ANZAC parade the last half hour, trying to find our way beyond the maze of closed streets. Keen to get away from the pomp and fanfare of marching bands and smart uniforms before the end of the ANZAC Day parade, we ducked into the restaurant in the hopes there wouldn’t be a long wait for a spot of lunch.

Jamie's Italian

Jamie's Italian

Jamie’s Italian seemed to have merged the dark warmth of an English pub with the chic charm of a European café. The wood panelled floors play host to the dancing of servers’ feet between the warm wood tables and multi-hued chairs, and up and down the length of the restaurant. While the staff might have been busy, their movements swift rather than rushed and their manner brisk rather than impatient.

Jamie’s Italian has been built around being approachable and I think they’ve accomplished it at their Sydney location. There is an electricity in the air from the hum of easy conversation throughout the restaurant and it seemed popular for family occasions (a child’s birthday was celebrated at the next table) and friends get-togethers (a mammoth group of 16 were downstairs), but those seeking an intimate duo-party meal are not neglected. Some of the best seats in the house for people-watching are the couple tables upstairs along the railing.

Jamie's Italian

We kicked off lunch with a beverage from the bar and after making our selection, nibbled on warm bread and an Italian wafer-thin crisp bread (we were once served this at dinner with my Sardinian colleague) with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Our waitress also plonked down a heavy tin of tomatoes, which apparently acts as a base for the planks.

Jamie's Italian

Fish Plank. AUD$12.50 per person

The planks come in a variety of options. The SO was still relatively full from breakfast and chose to go easy with a one portion of the fish plank. The fish plank consisted of cured and crispy fish (beetroot-cured salmon, roasted shellfish, smoked mackerel pâté and mini fritto misto with yuzu mayo), Italian cheese (aged pecorino with crispy “music bread” and chilli jam), pickles (pickles, green chillies, best green olives and caper berries) and crunchy salad (shaved carrot and beets with lemon and loads of mint).

The portion is for one and is huge! You get an amazing variety of flavours and textures, and at AUD$12.50 per person, we found it of pretty good value.

Jamie's Italian

Honeycomb Cannelloni 3 Ways. AUD$19

I preferred having something more heartier and the honeycomb cannelloni 3 ways hit the spot with its three stuffings – aubergine & sun-dried tomato; pumpkin; ricotta & spinach. It arrived in a rustic earthenware dish that made me lust to add to my own kitchen and seemed to have taken less time to prepare than the SO’s fish plank, which arrived a good 5 minutes after mine.

While the portion might not look very daunting, it left me far too full to contemplate dessert, which is a shame as there were a few things on the menu that looked extremely tempting.

With the franchise’s locations in Sydney and Perth, and now expanding to Canberra, I do hope a Jamie’s Italian makes its way to Brisbane someday.

 

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