Those that know me know that I have a shameless obsession with the king of olive oil, Jamie Oliver. His rustic approach the cooking, love of fresh produce and generous serves of lemon juice, chilli and oil have led me to believe that he is God. The 5 course extravaganza I had at Fifteen, his flagship restaurant in London, was one of the best I have ever had – I can still taste that Monk fish wrapped in speck to this day… mmm….
So, after many attempts I FINALLY got to try his high anticipated Sydney restaurant, Jamie’s Italian. At 12:15 the place was already packed and thankfully, we got ushered to a seat straight away, a miracle. But by the time we left an hour later there was a huge queue outside, one which I have avoided during my 8 months of living here. I love Jamie, but not enough to stand around for 3 hours, I am far too hungry for that.
The restaurant is huge despite is unassuming presence and narrow George Street frontage. It spans over metres and metres across two bustling floors. It was dark, frantic and didn’t have that warm atmosphere that Fifteen did, but perhaps my expectations were too high, Fifteen is Jamie’s first child and his Jamie’s Italian franchises are like long lost cousins he sends Christmas cards to. Regardless, I was still stoked to be somewhat, unofficially, in the presence of my God.
Given it was a Sunday, and just past breakfast time I decided to kick off with a delicious concoction of Italian presseco mixed with grapefruit and orange juice. It went down like liquid gold and furthered my excitement for the meal to come. Our feast started with a basket of assorted house-baked bread and Jamie’s Signature olive oil and balsamic which was dangerously good but I showed restraint and made sure it didn’t ruin my meal. From there we had a fairly uninspiring but tasty dish of calamari, flash fried and served with lemon and aioli. Then for the headline act we decided on sharing a prosciutto salad and traditional bolognaise made with pork and beef (the way any bolognaise should be!).
I think the more appropriate name for the salad would be prosciutto platter, it was absolutely huge. The plate was lined with lashings of freshly sliced meat and was generously heaped with perfectly dressed greens. I was happy to be sharing because I think I would have gotten over it fairly quickly if it was my only main. But it did act as a great, light accompaniment to the bolognaise, which was rich, full of flavour and made from freshly made pasta. The pasta, unsurpingly, was the highlight of the meal but sadly, despite my love for Jamie, won’t have me waiting in line for a second round.
The Bitter: The space is dark, cold and doesn’t scream “Jamie”
The Sweet: Nothing beats a good ol’ fashion bolognaise
The Damage: Drinks, mains and a shared started for two, will cost about $40 each