Jamie’s Italian @ Forum

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I love Jamie Oliver and I really want to like Jamie’s Italian, but the VivoCity outlet didn’t really wow me. Then they opened a new outlet at the Forum in Orchard and I thought I would give it another try. And yes, just like at Vivo, if you didn’t make a reservation, you still have to wait a good 45 minutes for a table. At least at the Forum you can either order a drink and sit at a tight corner with other diners who too didn’t make reservations, or you can pop up to Toys R Us and check out the amazing array of toys from Minions to Star Wars whilst waiting. The restaurant will sms you when your table’s ready, which is nice.
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The Forum outlet has a different menu so at least there’s some new elements, although we can safely say most of the original items are intact bar the ones that are probably unpopular such as the Apple Slaw (which we tried at Vivo and it was not very good). Their tables for two are still rather small too and yet they love to serve in big plates or planks. Good thing though is that the Forum outlet is bright and cheery, with a very homely feel.

We ordered 4 dishes and the waiter wisely advised that he will serve the appetisers first instead of all-at-once or else “there won’t be much space”… And he was right: we had the Cured Meats Plank ($16.50 per pax) and that alone took almost one third of the table when it arrived! The savoury meat cuts, accompanied by pickles, mini buffalo mozzarella and slaw, was a good choice to kick off the meal.
2015-10-16 20.51.20 (539x640)We also had the Crispy Squid ($12.50 small) which luckily was a small and didn’t take up much space. Served with garlic mayo, chopped chili and lemon, the calamari was alright but would have been better if it was crispier and less chewy.
2015-10-16 21.20.52 (640x444)For mains, we had the Lamb Chops Scottadito ($44) which was served on a large heavy plank along with red onion salad, toasted nuts, mint leaves, lemony yoghurt and polenta chips. The lamb chops looked good at first glance but the meat was rather dry and not well marinated. Even with the condiments or dipping it into the yoghurt didn’t improve its bland taste.
2015-10-16 21.21.22 (480x640)I had the Lamp Chop Lollipops at VivoCity and even that was half decent. The Lollipops are unfortunately not on the Forum menu but the Scottadito certainly wasn’t worth $44. The only saving grace was the polenta chips fried with rosemary and parmesan that accompanied it.
2015-10-16 21.21.01 (640x480)Actually the real saving grace of the evening was this Wild Mushroom & Smoked Mozzarella Risotto ($27) which was so flavourful that every mouthful was a joy. Easily one of the best Risottos I ever eaten.

2015-10-16 20.44.26 (592x640)To wash down all the items, we tried the Evviva L’Italia ($12, 330ml / $17, 500ml) that was exclusively crafted for Jamie’s Italian by Archipelago Brewery. It was light, flowery and refreshing, but frankly, doesn’t taste like a real beer. It was served in tall beer glasses that showed off its golden hue but surprisingly doesn’t have a logo or the beer’s name etched on the side. Not very becoming for a specially brewed exclusive beer, me thot. (And a huge Instagram loss…)
2015-10-16 21.21.37 (412x640)The bill came up to almost $158 for two persons and it would have been worth it if all the items tasted as good as they looked. Unfortunately, Jamie’s Italian still doesn’t wow me completely unlike Jamie’s 30-minute meals on TV. Pros are that service and ambience are good. Maybe I will give it one more chance but not for a good long while…


Hard Rock Cafe: Still Rockin’ @ 25!

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Earlier this month, my drinking mates decided to celebrate my older-and-wiser milestone at the Hard Rock Cafe (HRC) where the grub and grog are good, and we can also dance – after dinner , of course – to one of Singapore’s best live bands, Jive Talkin’, which has taken residence here every Friday and Saturday night since August. HRC is in fact celebrating a milestone of its own – it turns 25 this year and, like me, still doesn’t looked a day older! *grin*
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But first, let’s eat and be merry. HRC has been making a name for its cocktails of late. I remembered being in HRC Ho Chih Minh and had its signature cocktail, a Strawberry Basil Lemonade, which was quite out of this world. Here in Singapore however, what should a Marguerita have for her Big Day? A Margarita, of cos! And not just one, but three. I couldn’t resist the super cute Air Mexico package ($30) which offers three mini margaritas made with Silver Tequila and Contreau Orange liquer, with flavours including Blue Curacao, Monin Elderflower and Monin Raspberry. And it even came with a personal sized portion of chips and salsa! As you can see, the set is real cute although the colours of the Mexican flag didn’t quite turn out right (the one on the left should be redder…) But they were nice little portions although by the third glass, I was seriously feeling quite “full of myself”…
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Food-wise, I opted for one of their long-time signature dishes, the Chili Crab dip ($16.50) served with crispy mantou (fried buns) and I’m glad to say it is still as tasty as when it was first introduced. You can order extra mantous too at $4 a plate.
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One friend ordered another signature, the HRC Nachos ($25), and let me warn you – it can feed a family of five (well, almost). It comes in a huge plate, chock-ful of ingredients, and even if you are a guy like my pal, it is a dish that really need to be shared!
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Another mate went for the Fajita Grilled Chicken ($28) which I would have ordered (except with grilled beef) if I didn’t suddenly had a seafood craving. This dish is “fun’ to play with ‘cos, as like with tacos, you can fill the pita bread (served warm in that brown HRC bag) with the meat and vegetable bits yourself, in portions you prefer. Yes, I like playing with my food, so there…
In the midst of our dinner, we discovered that another thing that HRC was famous for – giving out free sundaes to birthday people – is still a running tradition. On the night of Sept 4 (Force Friday to Star Wars fans), there were like a good dozen diners besides myself who seem to be celebrating birthdays. (And I thought only Beyonce shared my big day…) I think practically every table that night sang “Happy Birthday” (which rightly should belong to public domain, seriously.) That’s my cool Birthday sundae pictured above and they even give you a lighted candle. Super sweet.
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Last but not least, at Hard Rock Cafe, the music never dies. Pop and rock videos would be playing throughout dinnertime but it’s the live music that’s what makes HRC rocks. For decades, Jive Talkin’ been making various clubs across the island get up and dance with the latest pop and rock hits, and now at HRC, they are still in mighty fine form. Playing three sets every Fri and Sat night from 10.30pm, you will have a blast with them on stage. And they take requests too!

All in all, glad to know that the grand old dame is still a rockin’ place to spend an evening with food-drinks-and-music loving friends. When I got home, I chanced upon an old Polaroid pix of me and another group of friends celebrating my birthday at HRC yons ago.  Happy times at Hard Rock indeed. Need to mark my next date…