When someone as famous as Jamie Oliver opens a restaurant in Singapore, every foodie there is – and there are gazillions of us here in the city state – is sure to make a beeline for it. Funny that Jamie would open an Italian restaurant chain – didn’t the bona fide Italians on his TV series said his cooking of their authentic dishes was so-so only? :p
Well, since Jamie’s Italian opened in July, phone reservations have been hard to come by. I wanted to dine there for my birthday in September and my best mate was told that they are booked for the next few weeks. Next few weeks came and gone – and I had even gone to Spain and back – and still reservations can’t be made by phone. So last Thursday, we simply pop on down to VivoCity as the restaurant did say they like to hold seats for walk-ins. We got there just before 7pm and told we have to wait for 45 minutes…
Having been used to 8pm dinners during my Camino trek in the north of Spain, I was fine with waiting when in time past I would have just gone to another eatery. Interesting thing was: Jamie’s Italian actually has a full bar right at the front of the restaurant and we found it weird that the servers would ask us – and other diners waiting their turn as well – to “come back later” when we could have spent time ordering drinks or checking out all the culinary things that Jamie Oliver recommends one can buy for one’s kitchen in the bar area. Oh well, their loss is the Starbucks next door’s gain cos that’s where most of us trotted to and ordered pre-dinner coffees while waiting for our tables.
Their timing was quite “jun” (Hokkien for “accurate”) have to say cos when we went back after 45 minutes, we had to wait but 5 more minutes for them to get the table ready for us. The restaurant ambience was nice and cosy and though the place was packed, at least we are not rubbing elbows with diners near by. For starters, we ordered some healthy (Apple Slaw, $8) and something not Posh Chips ($7.50). As always, the non-healthy item won out – the chips were delicious with a generous serving of parmesan and truffle oil over them and they went well with my pre-dinner drink, Jamie’s Italian Mojito ($15.50) which was refreshing although I have tasted better mojitos elsewhere. The Apple Slaw ( above left) though was a letdown – it was very pretty to look at with an assortment of colours provided by radishes, candied beets, and other “grasses” that we can’t identify. The beef was that there was hardly any apple in it and the whole dish, despite having mint and lemon favouring, was dry and unappealing to taste. Seeing the untouched dish, the waitress serving us did ask us for our reasons and asserted that she will convey our opinions to the chef. Let’s hope there will more apple slices for future diners then …
For mains, I opted for the cutesy named Lamb Chops Lollipops ($29.90, above) while HY went for the Beef & Veal Meatball ($28.50). I liked the grilled lamb chops which came in a set of four (rather than the usual three) and served with a creamy minty mash comprising artichoke, roasted nuts and chilli. Only thing is, I wished the waitress had asked me how I would like to have it done cos it was cooked well done whereas if served medium or medium rare, it would have been just perfect.
HY’s beef and veal meatball was huge, and came with servings of polenta and black cabbage. I’m a carnivore but oddly I found the meaty taste a tad strong while HY enjoyed it and she’s usually not an overly meat person. We were happy with our mains so that’s the main thing.
After all that, we seriously had no room for dessert but being in an Italian restaurant, we simply couldn’t leave without trying the Tiramisu ($11.50). It came (above), it was alright, maybe I was too full to enjoy it thoroughly. The Cappuccino was good though, so it provided a nice end to the meal.
Jamie’s Italian will continue to be popular for a good long while I’m sure. Would definitely visit again to try other dishes and the special beer that was exclusively crafted for Jamie’s Italian by the local Archipelago Brewery. But not sure if I would want to wait 45 minutes again for a meal. One couple next to us only had coffee and dessert and we wondered why on earth did they waited so long for a table just to order that! But to each his own, and I will definitely make a return trip here maybe a couple more weeks down the road….