It’s just a restaurant, yes, but if you are a foodie on a budget, the appearance of Jamie’s Italian in Sydney’s Pitt Street should already have you salivating.
My young family and I recently had two meals at the Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Bath, England, a restaurant that combined so many good things that it was one of the most memorable meals in a five-week trip across four countries.
From the outside, it wasn’t much, and in the ancient, historical theme park of Bath, it was disappointingly modern. But once inside, any disappointment waned in response to the clever layout and countless cool touches.
From the entrance, you can already see more meat than your local butcher, framing what appears to be the first of three kitchens. It’s an Italian restaurant – vegetarians are welcome but ignored…
Next delightful touch we saw was a display of fresh bread – like all the pasta used, it was baked daily and on the premises. Not half bad.
The vibe is fast-paced and noisy but the good was quick and the crowd young, so it any kitchen noise seemed intentional – the customers were supposed to notice the food being created, everything designed to give you an immersive food experience.
Next thing we noticed was how well the place took care of kids. The waiters were professional without being uptight, so our spills and demands were all fine. They had a high-chair waiting for us at our table. The waiter fell in love with our son. And then he brought….
Seriously, some joints hate you from the moment you walk in with kids so this was blowing our collective minds. Cafe owners of Sydney take note, if you appreciate and cater to the children, then like adults, they will like you more and be more compliant! It’s not brain surgery.
So our food hadn’t even arrived and we all had huge Dolmio grins.
And then the food did arrive. I can’t recall exactly what it was but each choice delivered and was less than $AU20.
Kids were happy – and drowning in good spicy sauces. We enjoyed the delicate tastes of fresh herbs with Jamie’s flourishes hidden somewhere on every plate.
I should point out that Jamie wasn’t there and staff said he had only ever dropped in once when they chalked his outline on a ready-made wall.
This IS a franchise. Oliver is good at it (he made $30,000/hour last year and he’s about to make a move into Facebook games) and this food chain certainly cashes in on his popularity, but unlike the Tefal saucepans that bear his name yet you can still ruin a meal with them, the restaurants can claim to deliver on a menu that he has created and tasted.
Plus, I believe they deliver on his mantra – good food for everyone, all the time.
He recently established a Ministry of Food – Australia including a centre in Ipswich, Queensland, that will help to ’empower, educate and engage as many people as possible to love and enjoy good food.’
These were also on display as you walked in. So the decision was taken care of earlier on.
Wifey went with a chocolate tart but I loved the sound of baked nectarines sprinkled with brown sugar and nutmeg. I chose it because I thought, “I have all those ingredients, why aren’t I making this?”
And so, Jamie’s Italian had delivered on a third Oliver mantra; ‘Keep Cooking Skills Alive’.
I was inspired, not to eat out more, but to be more creative when cooking at home.
Bish bash bosh, sorted.
Jamie’s Italian is set to open later this year at the location of 107 Pitt Street, Sydney (where Industrie wine bar used to be).