It was bucketing down with rain and the wind cut through me like ice. This is not exactly the best weather to be walking through the city in search of a bite to eat. The Boy and I had just been dropped off at the Wellington Bus Station by Loris from Taste Bud Tours after an afternoon Speed Grazing in the Swan Valley. I had adamantly put my foot down refusing to return home and cook dinner. It was too enjoyable a day to return to the humdrum just yet. But we were a little peckish so I suggested we pop across the road to Jamie’s Italian for some pucker tucker before catching a cab. We were loaded up with bags of loot that we had bought along the way and desperate for a quick solution we both agreed this sounded like an easy option.
Our wise plans were to prove nothing short of stupid as it turned out that our impromptu dinner happened to coincide with the New Directions concert held at the Perth Arena only a minutes’ walk from the restaurant. Unbeknownst to us nearly every single parent of the 14,000+ teenage concert goers ALSO chose to eat at Jamie’s Italian while they waited for the three hour concert to finish. To add insult to injury these possibly clueless parents were either not educated in the Jamie way of high table turnover, or more likely they didn’t really care, and thus once completing their meals they were happy to just sit and occupy their table for a bit longer.
And they sat.
Meanwhile at the bar overlooking the restaurant floor, it was bursting at the seams with hungry customers waiting for a table. I noticed a number people casting intense glares at the well-fed diners seated below in hope this would prompt them to feel guilty, get up and move back to the bar to give up their table. I’m surprised there wasn’t a mutiny!
I have to say for the first hour I was still a bit full from our Speed Grazing and was happy to snack slowly whilst taking in the whole atmosphere. My absolute favourite of the bar snacks was the crispy fried polenta chips with fresh rosemary and finely grated parmesan. These are most definitely worth the hype. Obnoxiously crispy on the outside with a soft fluffy centre I could have easily downed several rounds of these if I could have made my way back to the bar more easily to place another order.
It’s a big call to call your olives the World’s Best olives but Jamie in his over confident manner is obviously happy to do so. Large, firm green olives and black olive tapenade were served on ice with paper-thin, crispy “music bread” which was not gluten free. Olives are a very individual taste and personally I wouldn’t go so far as to call these the World’s best as the flesh was a little hard. I like my olives to fall off the pip like slow cooked meat falls off a bone.
The sweet mini chilli peppers were stuffed with whipped ricotta, mint & lemon and were soft and delicate providing a good textural contrast to our super crunchy polenta chips. Our bar experience would have been greatly improved if our waiter brought us some serviettes and cutlery to the table with our food order. There may have been some available at the bar but as we were packed in like sardines I didn’t bother to check.
After what turned out to be a two and a half hour wait I was escorted to our table along with a very disgruntled husband. He had to start work early the next day, it was nearly nine o’clock and we were only just getting seated. We were originally told it would be about an hour and a half wait and had no idea that it actually would mean nearly double that! I felt terrible because I was the one that had pushed him into dining here, after our long day he would have been happy with some local take out and a night snuggled up on the couch.
Trying to make light of the situation I persuaded him to forget temporarily the busy day ahead of him as we had undergone such a long haul to get this table and we needed to make the most of it! I ordered the pan-fried whole pink snapper with olives, garlic, wine, capers, parsley & the “sweetest baby plum tomatoes”. The wonder about fresh seafood is that you really need very little effort to make it a delicious meal. Cooked on the bone the snapper had so much flavour but I did need to eat it slowly so as not to choke on a fish-bone.
The Boy had a fillet of baked King Salmon served with whipped lemony artisanal ricotta, balsamic roasted winter vegetables and a zesty crunchy salad. He was understandably far too hungry to go into details of listing adjectives to describe his dish but he did comment that all the ingredients seemed extremely fresh.
We ordered a couple of nicely priced side dishes to boot. The “Humble Green Salad” contained thick, bright chunks of cos lettuce with a lemon, mustard, crushed pink peppercorns & mint yoghurt dressing and topped with a variety of mixed seeds. It tasted like it had come straight from the garden.
The Boy and I are mad for roasted pumpkin and my tired eyes nearly missed seeing it on the sides menu. Thankfully the Boy was on the ball and ensured we ordered a serve. It was layered with chunks of roasted beetroot and garlic cloves and tossed with chilli, roasted nuts & seeds. Whilst this dish in its simplicity will never fail to excite me; my bench mark for hitting the wow factor is Rockpool’s Pumpkin with burnt butter and garlic yoghurt. Jamie’s pumpkin was good, but it was not THAT good.
The tension across the table from our overly excessive wait for a table had dissipated. I love how good food can fix nearly everything. For dessert I really didn’t think I could squeeze much more in so I opted for the poached Winter fruits with vanilla frozen yoghurt and smashed honeycomb. While being thankful my choice was light and easy to eat I couldn’t help eyeing off all the more elaborate desserts brought to our surrounding tables. I guessing I will have to come back with a more empty stomach next time. If the Boy lets me!Jamie’s Italian The Mitchell Building, 140 William Street, Perth, WA 6000 | (08) 9363 8600 | www.jamieoliver.com/italian/australia/perth Price: $$ (Entrees/Small bites $9-16, Mains $17-34) Food: 4/5 (simple, wholesome goodness, certainly nothing fancy but hits the sweet spot) Service: 2.5/5 (although the table service was brilliant, please don’t tell customers it’s a 90 minute wait when it is actually 2 & 1/2 hours) Ambience: 4/5 (noisy, energetic and vibrant) Drinks: 3/5 (very Italian focused) Total: 13.5/20