Saturday, May 10, 2014

Restaurant review: Jamie's Italian, Singapore

Jamie Oliver is one of my favorite celebrity chefs. He is unquestionably one of the most famous and recognized British chefs in the world. I've watched his shows on the box for years. I like how he cooks simple, unpretentious and wholesome food, time and again stressing on the importance of using fresh produce and natural ingredients. His enthusiasm and energy are infectious and I've always gotten the feeling that he is genuinely trying to revolutionize people's eating habits. He seems a tad mad at times but I only find that charming! Needless to say, when I heard his restaurant was coming to Singapore, I went a wee bit mad meself (tee...hee). I was even happier to note that the restaurant was scheduled to open in Vivocity, a mall which I happen to haunt as much as an in-house poltergeist!

Jamie’s italian was founded in 2008 on George Street, Oxford when two unique minds, Jamie Oliver and his friend/mentor Gennaro Contaldo (whom he met in the kitchen of London’s Neal Street) collaborated together to share Italian cuisine with the rest of the world. To bring to the forefront fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the bold and simple flavours and the relaxed way of sharing dishes. Since then, the successful chain has since grown to 30 restaurants worldwide with a growing international market.

Jamie's Italian is the newest restaurant that I patronize and a place that both me and hubby are fixated with! I had been waiting patiently to check out the place but the initial clamour was ridiculously insane with tables being booked months in advance. I knew that there was a walk-in option too but in a mall like Vivocity which is perpetually crowded 24x7, I didn't think that getting a table would be much easier. We visited this restaurant for the first time to celebrate our anniversary in January and it left us with a good first impression. We were extremely keen to go again on Valentine's day but having just returned from a holiday, we didn't get a reservation at the last minute. The next special occasion was my hubby's birthday in March so not to take any chances, he made a reservation weeks in advance. After that I went yet again with my gang of girlfriends on my birthday early this month. My review is a compilation of my experiences at the restaurant during the multiple times that I've been here.

On all occasions, once we informed the staff of our reservation, we were requested to wait a few minutes either at the bar table or the waiting area. Waiting goes by quickly when you are admiring the Jamie Oliver memorabilia (they have some good stuff for sale). The staff are friendly and eager to assist which reflects the restaurant's courteous attitude towards their customers. 





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The 250 seater restaurant offers both indoor seating (210 seats) and an alfresco dining option (40 seats) and it has an interesting layout. The huge glass windows at the rear of the restaurant face the waters edge and offers a good view.

Here are some pictures that I clicked inside the restaurant. As you can see from them, the restaurant has great interiors. It is inviting, rustic and yet has that classy look. There are personal photos, chalkboards with the daily specials listed, long wooden planks/platters and hanging dried chillies. The design idea is very eclectic. There is a mix of metal chairs, sofas and armchairs, interesting lighting and unique props. 





An example of a chalk board that read out the specials. Nice touch don't you think?


The Italian-inspired menu is simple, fuss-free and has an impressive variety of antipasti, sides, pasta and risotto, main courses, desserts and drinks to choose from. There is something for everybody. 




Here is a round-up of some of the dishes that we ordered. Note that these are dishes from three separate occasions so there are a LOT of them!

Drinks

Basil tea ($5.50)
Lemony tea with a hint of basil with sugar syrup served on the side. It was alright I guess but nothing to write home about.


Ginger beer ($6.50)
Grated ginger, muscovado sugar, whole lemons, soda water & mint. Quite refreshing.


Antipasti

Fried Tri Cheese Gnocchi ($11.50)
I had the gnocchi both times when I was at the restaurant with my husband. The dish is beautifully presented on a rustic wooden plank. It was a small serving but it was fantastic with an explosion of flavours. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, a mild kick of heat, sweetness from the tomato and salty nutty flavour from Parmesan. I only wished there were more!

Unfortunately, when I went with my friends on my birthday, the gnocchi wasn't there on the menu anymore. I was downright dejected! Please o' please if anyone from the restaurant is reading this, put the gnocchi back on the menu!


Baked Mushrooms ($12.50)
I love mushrooms so I was eager to try this dish. It had swiss browns with crispy music bread & smoked buffalo mozzarella. I was not expecting this dish to look the way it did since I had something else in mind entirely. This dish was slightly underwhelming as compared to the rest in terms of flavour.



Smashed Bean and Pea Bruschetta ($12.50)
This dish in my humble opinion, is Jamie Oliver on a plate. Simple, organic, fresh and humble. It sums up perfectly what his food is all about. A combination of good sourdough crostini with creamy hints from the mozzarella, cool crunchy texture of zucchini and the earthy taste of pea sprouts and shaved asparagus.



Roasted Squash and Ricotta Bruschetta ($12.50)
Garlicky sourdough with roasted squash, lemony ricotta, crispy sage & beetroot chips. All the flavours married well together but the crostini wasn't thick enough for my liking. Me and my husband had a generous portion of Pumpkin Bruschetta last time (which was featured as the special of the day) which I liked much better.


Italian Spiced Chicken Wings ($12.50)
A plate of free-range wings with smoked spicy tomato sauce



Sides

Funky Chips ($6.50)
With fresh garlic & parsley. A bit too garlicky for some of my friends but I liked it.


Polenta Chips ($7.50)
Bite sized and deep fried. The crispy exterior contrasted well with the soft interior and it had great flavour of parmesan and rosemary. Even though it was a small serving, it was quite satisfying.



Pasta and Risotto

Most of the pasta and risotto dishes come in two kind of servings - small and large. The small portion can serve as an appetizer and is good for people with small appetites or those on diet. Big eaters will however need the large portion. The pasta and risotto is cooked perfectly al dente like how it is supposed to be and hence these dishes are quite popular at the restaurant.

Jool's Favourite Sicilian Tuna Fusilli (Small: $14)
Those who have watched Jamie Oliver on television over the years, know that Jool's is his wife. Two of my friends were intrigued by this dish since it was named after her It had albacore tuna slow-cooked with tomatoes, garlic, herbs & cinnamon with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs.



Crab Spaghettini (Small: $16)
Sweet crab tossed with capers, chilli, fennel, parsley, anchovies & lemon.



Penne Carbonara (Small: $13)
Served Roman style with pancetta & a lemony, cream sauce.



Black Angel Spaghetti (Small: $16)
Squid ink pasta, scallops, garlic, chilli, anchovies, wine & capers.



Honeycomb Cannelloni Three-Ways ($19.50)
The cannelloni is served with aubergine & sun-dried tomato, pumpkin, ricotta & spinach. A little tangy for my liking but I still considered it a good dish since it was packed full of flavour.



Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli (Small: $17.50)

Perfectly cooked ravioli pasta stuffed with a spinach and ricotta filling topped with toasted pine nuts in a creamy sauce of mascarpone, Italian butter and lemon, garnished with parmesan and herbs & drizzled with olive oil. The pasta was delicious but it was slightly over seasoned. Even I who can be quite forgiving with the salt thought that it was a bit much. Also, I found the portion size to be way too meagre even for "small" standards. About 4 spoonfuls and I was done!



Truffle Risotto (Small: $16)
I had this the first time I was at Jamie's Italian and I thought it was excellent! I had the small portion and I was left yearning for more. One person can easily polish off the large portion. Al dente risotto, creamy in texture with the deep rich flavour of parmesan and aroma of truffle. They didn't overdo it thankfully and it was just perfect. 



Wild Mushroom Risotto (Large: $26.90)
During our second visit, the Wild Mushroom Risotto was indicated as the special of the day. When I went with my friends, I was happy to see that it had been included in the menu as a regular item. One of my friend's (who has a big appetite) ordered the large portion and she was quite happy with it although she wouldn't have minded more!


Mains

Lamb Chops ($29.90)
The lamb chops came in a generous portion and had great presentation. Apparently, it was simply seasoned allowing the meat to shine. It was served alongside a creamy artichoke mash. The long fresh chilli seemed to be an out of place on the platter as it is a very Asian element. Probably, spice lovers would welcome it. 



Panna Cotta ($9)
Visually appealing and very inviting. The tartness from the berry compote was perfect to offset the creamy sweet panna cotta. 



Tiramisu ($11.50)
The tiramisu had coffee-flavoured trifle with orange mascarpone & chocolate. It was moist and had good flavour.



Epic Brownie ($11.50)
This dessert consisted of a warm fudgy brownie with amaretto ice-cream & caramelized amaretti popcorn. We requested for vanilla ice-cream instead of the amaretto ice-cream. I didn't particularly enjoy this dessert very much although most of my friends did.



Rippled Pavlova ($11.50)
Crunchy meringue with zesty cream, limoncello- soaked fruits & smashed hazelnut praline. The tartness of the fruit complemented the sweetness of the meringue. But the inside of the meringue wasn't as soft and marshmellowy (sorry I know that isn't a word!) as I would have liked it to be. I prefer the pavlova that I make at home *smug grin*




Italian Cheese Board ($15.50)
Ordering this was my doing...hehehe. Being highly obsessed with cheese, I find savouring assorted cheeses the best way to end a meal. The platter consisted of pecorino toscano & gorgonzola piccante accompanied by quince, music bread, celery & a slice of granny smith apple. A big thumbs up!






My closing statements are that Jamie's Italian is a great place to get your Italian fix. The chilled out and relaxed atmosphere makes it a great place to hang out with family, friends or colleagues. If you were imagining it be an upper class, fancy, fine-dining restaurant, you would be mistaken. This is a fuss-free, casual restaurant that serves hearty and rustic Italian fare. The food is good in general with some dishes being better than the other. I recommend the gnocchi, bruschetta (look out for the specials), risotto, pasta dishes and the panna cotta. The portion size however is small by my standards so if you are a group of very hungry people, sharing is not an option. Even the large portions of the pasta and risotto are not what you would call substantial (but that is coming from someone like me who has a voracious appetite!). The service is excellent. The staff are friendly and polite and they go out of their way to make the diners comfortable. The prices are generally affordable to slightly on the higher side but the average price per person can vary quite a bit depending on whether you order drinks and the company you go with. They charge 10% service tax in addition to the 7% gst. When I was there with my husband, we spent about $80 per person, whereas when I went with my friends, we only spent $36 per head :)


My rating for this restaurant is 4.5 out of 5 stars


Jamie’s Italian Singapore
1 Harbourfront Walk, Vivocity #01 165-167, Singapore 098585

Opening Hours: Mon – Thu: 12:00PM – 10:00PM;
                           Fri – Sat: 12:00PM – 11:00PM;
                           Sun: 12:00PM – 10:00PM

Tel: 6733 5500
Email: enquiries@jamiesItalian.sg
Website/Online booking: http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/singapore/vivo-city
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamiesitaliansingapore




Cheers,


4 comments:

  1. Oh that looks like a super place Megha! Great pics. I am a James Oliver fan too - love his enthusiasm:-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! Check out our post on Jamie's Italian Singapore and let us know what you think!

    Happy Travels Everyone!

    Tom,
    2bearbear.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jamie was recently opened in Bali too, and I love their pasta the most, and their lamb chops as well. Are they still requires months in advance reservation? Because here it's much relaxed and getting a seat is relatively easy. http://blog.epicurina.com/2015/06/jamies-italian-kuta-beach-bali-jamie.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! All of their foods are mouth watering and looks delicious especially the Crab Spaghettini. :)
    Anyway, you should also try the best steak in Manila. I'm sure you'll love it too.

    ReplyDelete

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