Jamie Oliver Has Left the Building

After rushing in the door from Parent/Teacher night at Arabella’s school I then performed the ‘five-minute wonder transformation’ that took me from serious, concerned, sensible, drug-free parent to middle-aged woman looking to kick up her heels with a bunch of girls for a night on the town.

Bar Area

It was my friend Jane’s birthday and she had made a reservation at Jamie’s Italian.  Reservations are apparently hard to get but not if you’re prepared to eat late so our reservation was for 8.45pm which was later than I would have liked given I’d just moved house and pulled an all-nighter in Accident and Emergency rubbing Arabella’s back while she writhed around in her hospital bed.

Jamie's Napkins

There had been a scandalous rumour flying around that Mr Oliver himself would be at his restaurant that night but actually he wasn’t anywhere near his Sydney restaurant with later rumours stating he had left Sydney for Melbourne.

One good thing about the restaurant’s positioning is that it is next door to a car park and at night you can park for just $15.00 and that’s a bargain for Sydney’s CBD.

We arrived at the restaurant a little early so our table wasn’t ready.  We sat at the bar and under a display of Jamie’s cookbooks surveyed the scene.  The door to the restaurant was kept open by a large urn containing umbrellas and so there was an icy draught blowing in chilling me to the core especially as I had worn a short, sleeveless summer dress – well, I’d bought it new this season and with the terrible summer we’ve had it’s done little more than hang in the cupboard and I just wanted to give it an airing before winter descends.

One of the open kitchens

The restaurant is long and narrow and on two-levels.  When our table was ready we were led upstairs and shown to a small round table that was positioned directly above the entrance.  The chairs around the table were made of metal so when I sat down it was my bare thighs that hit the seat and the cold metal chair felt like it had come straight from the deep freeze.  The external wall behind me was made of glass panels that had openings to the outdoors so gusts of wind would blow through these cracks making me wish I’d ditched the dress for my winter tracksuit.

It’s good to be seated at a small table when you are in a group of six because it means you can talk to your friends and be heard and that is necessary in this restaurant because with the interior having a polished concrete floor, then the use of glass and the metal chairs, it’s, ‘Oh the noise, noise, noise’.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

The waiter brought the menu and these are enormous and I thought quite cumbersome as there was no where to put them as the table was too small to lie them flat and when you held them up you couldn’t see the people you were dining with.  But, the wait staff at this restaurant are very attentive and there is no annoying hovering or idle chat like, ‘How’s your day been so far?’

The very LARGE menu

We ordered red wine to start with.  I was surprised to see so many imported wines from Italy and I realise this is an Italian inspired restaurant but I would have liked to have seen more Australian wines on the menu.  We ordered Chalmers Nero D’Avola 2011 for $53.00/bottle.   The waiter did tell us that the 2010 was better than the 2011 but I assured him I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

We ordered the Sweet Mini Chilli Peppers for $9.00 to have with our drinks that I thought were delicious and presented beautifully and were quite inexpensive.  We also ordered the Fat Green Olives on Ice with black olive tapenade for $6.00.  I noticed that a selection of bread is complimentary but we didn’t order any.

Mini Sweet Chilli Peppers

We were thinking of sharing dishes but the table barely had room for our wine glasses let alone a selection of plates so we decided against the sharing option.  I ordered the Bucatini Carbonara for $19.00 (or $12.00 for an entree).  It was a tubular spaghetti with fried smoked pancetta and leek tossed with free-range eggs and parmesan.  It wasn’t a generous serving but it was attractively presented and while the taste was excellent, the pasta was under-cooked and so stiff it couldn’t be twirled on the fork.

Bucatini Carbonara

Black Ink Squid Risotto

Fish in a Bag

Veal

I also ordered a Trevise and Gorgonzola Salad with walnuts, pear and sticky balsamic for $9.00 and that was full of delicious contrasting flavours.

Trevise and Gorgonzola Salad

There were a couple of sides ordered so I tried the Posh Chips for $6.00 but they were soggy rather than crunchy and needed more seasoning.  The Crispy Polenta Chips for $8.00 were a real hit.  We all loved them.  They were definitely crispy and we wished we’d ordered more of them.

Crispy Polenta Chips

One of my friends ordered lamb and liver on skewers and she said the lamb was overcooked and chewy and the liver undercooked.  She also found it to be under seasoned and had to reach for the salt and pepper grinders to give the dish a bit of a kick.

We all wanted to order dessert but I didn’t find anything on the menu that sounded enticing or exciting.  There was a selection of ice cream for $8.00, a selection of sorbets for $8.00, Panna Cotta for $8.50, and a Tiramisu that for me had an overpowering coffee taste.  I ordered the almond tart and that was moist with a lovely balance of flavour.

Almond Tart

Pineapple with chilli and sorbet

PannacottaTiramisu

This restaurant serves good food at very reasonable prices.  You’re not going to be over-charged here.  But the menu contains only basic, simple dishes that you would expect to see Jamie sharing on one of his TV cooking shows where he’s pitching the basics to novice home cooks.  And while I’m a huge fan of Jamie’s cooking shows, when I dine in one of his restaurants I’m after something more.  I want something that shows me the genius he is,  not something he thinks I might be able to manage at home.

Sadly for Jamie, our expectations of him are all too high.

Verdict:  Disappointing

Jamie’s Italian:  107 Pitt Street, Sydney.  Ph:  8240 9000

 

Comments

  1. Awww, too bad it did not meet your expectations, although the food generally looked quite good:) I understand the situation when you are in a group and then there is just no space to place your plates and then it seems like you are all such big eaters, LOL! But it’s really fun to be in group, it just makes the atmosphere merrier;)

  2. I imagine it would be hard for Mr Oliver to live up to expectations – his presence on TV is larger than life and real life might well be a bit of a let down. I am impressed with the prices though! I’m not sure if Sydney tends to be cheaper than Perth for restaurant meals too, but these seem very reasonable, especially for such a big name.

    Also, I hope your daughter is ok?! Writhing in a hospital bed doesn’t sound so great…

  3. Aw, how sad it was a disappointment – the food looks pretty good at least, though I can see why you felt it was lacking a little. The polenta chips at least sound fab – that’s something I’m going to try 🙂

  4. Honestly, the dishes you prepare look at least as good as anything in these pictures. When you are a foodie (or are lucky enough to live with one, like I do) it is so easy to be disappointed in restaurants. But how fun to get to go for a girl’s night out! Your description of your transformation cracked me up; how often I have done that myself.

    Hope that Arabella is feeling better, and that it was nothing too terribly serious.

  5. Well … at least I know you also have good taste in wine. Cheers my friend!

  6. Excellent review! I’m sorry your dinner wasn’t perfect. I am sure if there was Jamie Oliver’s restaurant here I would go to check it too. Just like you did.
    I have heard many famous tv chefs’ restaurants are disappointing, unless they are most of all famous for their excellent restaurants and not tv shows or books. This unfortunately is getting rare nowadays… I’m sure Jamie Oliver knows how to cook very well, but keeping a quality restaurant is probably much more difficult.

  7. Oh that’s a shame Charlie that it didn’t live up to your standards. Because Mr Bao was just there last week and he seemed to enjoy the food but then he did say that the dishes were very simple. I’m glad Jamie doesn’t over charge though ~ Guess it’s always hard for celebrity chefs to live up to expectations 😀

    Hope you’ve had time to relax and chill out! You deserve a good break!

  8. Oh, too bad. I hope that you had a nice relaxing time, nonetheless.

  9. At least you were with great company:) Thanks for sharing & Have a Great Day!

  10. Sorry it wasn’t up to your expectations, but it sounds like it was a fun night and the food looks delicious!!

  11. Interesting review, thanks Charlie. It all sounds very reasonably priced, but a little hit and miss foodwise. Huge plates on too small tables is one of my pet hates at restaurants…

  12. Nice review, the truth is that all these famous chefs restaurants are more like medium quality chain restaurants.
    The problem with the huge menu is so common, but it’s perfect when you want to hide from the sun!
    The only thing that matters is that you had fun with your friends (oh and that you didnt get the 2010 wine..)
    Hugs!!!

  13. I’m sorry to hear that your dinner was so lackluster. With the kind of days you’ve had leading up to this night out, I had hoped that you would be sitting down to a fabulous dinner and wonderful time with your friends. With apologies to Jaime — whose recipes i’ve prepared and liked — there’s no excuse for pasta to be served undercooked. None whatsoever! I’ll remain silent about a number of things when dining out — except when it comes to my pasta. Hell hath no fury like a Bartolini whose pasta’s poorly served!

  14. What a shame!!! It’s so funny that you think 8.45pm is late, it’s actually that time right now in spain and I haven’t even started cooking for dinner hahaha

  15. In an Italian restaurant, there is NO excuse for gluggy spaghetti! I’d rather pay more for a better experience. I think sometimes celebrity restaurants are so busy pushing meals out to keep up with demand that they don’t have time to add the love or little bit extra to turn a good meal into a great meal.
    I hope Arabella and Archie are feeling better?

  16. yes this is what everyone seems to say. I guess he’s not trying to impress but to do good simple food HOWEVER…. if this is the case everything must be perfectly cooked and executed. I really hate a very noisy restaurant , when I am with friends, not for me

  17. Sorry to hear that the restaurant didn’t do it for you Charlie, especially since I’ve been told that insanely large menus are a sign that a restaurant will exceed expectations. 🙂

  18. When will restauranters realise hard shiny surfaces create noise. I can’t bear noisy restaurants. There is a restaurant in Christchurch NZ that has been architecturally designed to reduce noise. It was a pleasure to dine there.

  19. I loved the start of your story, it made me laugh, as mothers we are always juggling roles, the parent to one of the girls etc. So many times I have been called to the office and left waiting on “the naughty seat” ! The tracksuit comment also hit home, I hate freezing restaurants and noisy ones with crowded tables!

    The food looked nice it is a shame it wasn’t cooked well. The dessert seemed very poor, none of them would have tempted me at all.

    When I go for dinner I like it to be something I couldn’t have prepared myself.

  20. A shame that you didn’t have a better meal/dining experience, especially at those prices. Frankly it’s out of my budget so if I went somewhere like that, I’d expect a superlative evening.

  21. This post was an education for me since we don’t have such “fancy” foods in my Minnesota community. Some would certainly be fun to try; others (like the liver) I would not touch. Thanks for taking me out to dinner Australian style.

  22. I know what you mean. When I go out I want to be able to order things that I wouldn’t make at home otherwise I just sit there thinking I should have stayed home and made this myself!

    I’m still a little bit eager to try his restaurant though. I love everything he does especially what he’s doing with the food revolution.

  23. Dear Charlie Louie

    I have been a recent convert of JO’s 30-minute meals on TV and I think his recipes are awesome. But I would never join that supposed queue just to eat some seemingly rustic and easy Italian that can be replicated at home although the prices seem very reasonable.

  24. I’m also a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and would really love to dine in his restaurant but after read your review which seems like you didn’t really enjoy it there.. Hmmmm… I probably should think it twice now 🙁

  25. Beautiful pictures! So sweet of your girlfriends to hold off eating while you took those. I am sure you looked fabulous even though you froze your rear end off. Sad that your expectations were not met, BUT fear not. Jamie is still a total doll, you had good wine, and you had a great topic to write about. Hope all the kids are doing better.

  26. It’s always sad when you visit a restaurant and have high hopes about it That’s why I stopped lol. Here in NYC, there are so many restaurants, so when I visit one I think I will like, I just wait until I see the food and the prices lol. And a draft in the restaurant is no good wither. But I will say.. that veal and the salad did look delish

  27. What a shame 🙁 looks like it had such potential

  28. What a shame about the pasta! Your salad, and the olives and tapenade, sound lovely though 🙂

  29. It’s always interesting to see a bit of the “industry” side of the food world–and probably in all fairness, who could always live up to such enormous and constant hype. Jamie Oliver always does a solid job, makes food accessible to non-professional cooks, and writes good books as well. It’s just too bad to go to a celebrity restaurant with high hopes and then be let down. But that pannacotta tiramisu did grab my attention!

  30. Sorry to hear about your experience….
    Jamie Oliver has such larger than life image, sometime that can be bad too in real life.

  31. Sorry the restaurant was so disappointing. The pictures all look yummy though.

  32. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Its so disappointing when the food/restaurant doesn’t make the grade. Jamie would hate to hear this review I am sure. Its so difficult to have your name and reputation attached to something that is less than perfect. I must say I have been to his parents pub in the UK The Cricketers Arms in Essex and the meal was delicious and have attended pasta classes in Brighton UK and were equally good. Melbourne is not fortunate to have any “Jamie’s” to compare. Even “15” I think got sold to his colleague Tobie Puttock. Hope you give it another try to see if things improve.

  33. We had a similar experience with the food but also coupled with a one hour 40 minute wait as there were only 5 of us. I don’t think we’ll be visiting again although we were glad that we tried it.

  34. Oooh, so sorry to hear it was disappointing for you! We’ve never been to any of his restaurants, probably due to the celebrity TV chef fear factor. Having said that we like the cookbooks and enjoy cooking his dishes at home!

  35. What a shame, but not surprising. We’ve dined at several celebrity chef’s establishments and I have to say the same, not up to expectations! And it’s too bad your summers been such a bust. Yesterday we had 16°C and by Sunday it’s going up to 14°C again! Very mild winter indeed!

  36. Too bad for the food & the dishes! 🙁
    But thanks for this grand review anyway! 🙂

  37. Hi Charlie .. sad – I went with a girl-friend from South Africa and a few others of her English friends to Jamie’s Fifteen in London .. and that was very good – when I’ve found the menu – I might do a post on it .. when that will be – will be anyone’s guess! Our meal was delicious and very tasty … sounds like it was unfortunate the evening was chilly.

    Love the photos of the food .. and it looks delicious!! Great fun read though .. cheers Hilary

  38. Oh, too bad. At least you had a night out with the girls!

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