Jamie's Italian is without a doubt the hottest thing in town right now. So much anticipation was building up in the days leading up to the opening of this popular restaurant chain by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
For months, the other travel bunnie and I have hoped that someone would walk out from the shuttered facade so that we could get a glimpse of the fit-out. Finally, the wait is over. Jamie's Italian opened its doors last Tuesday! Being the impatient bunnie that I am, we went there for a quick lunch shortly after they opened.
Set in the heritage listed Rowes Arcade, a certain someone has done a brilliant job at transforming this sizable space. Reservations can be made online but on the day of our visit the system was down so we crossed our fingers and walked in. Fifteen minutes later, our table was available.
Our waiter was a nice and polite chap with a fitting English accent. Two glasses of soda water infused with strawberry and elderflower cordial (the other with ginger and lemongrass ($4.50 each)) was how we elected to start off so that we could cool down from the unusual scorching heat outside. Both the other travel bunnie and I had decided to have pasta, being such an iconic staple food in the Italian cuisine, it's hard to surpass it on a first visit. I ordered a squid-ink risotto ($14), which was cooked with creamy black rice, crispy squid, white wine then topped with herby breadcrumbs. As I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, I had a small serving of this dish and that's another thing that I like about the menu at Jamie's Italian, the fact that they provide you with different sizing options. The risotto was presented how I imagined it to be. I developed a liking for squid ink when I visited Barcelona a few years ago and have been craving it every now and then. The risotto itself was unfortunately quite undercooked. No I don't mean 'al dente', I mean crunchy rice. It was unfortunate because everything else about the dish was delicious, the squid was crunchy and the sauce had a hint of heat from the chilli and was so good. The other travel bunnie had a lamb & ricotta tortellini ($26) which according to him was absolutely tasty, but it would've been better if he had a little more on his plate. To accompany our meals, we also shared their famous polenta chips ($8.50) topped with parmesan and rosemary. One word of advice, get it! Stat!
Still feeling rather disappointed with my almost-perfect-if-it-wasn't-for-the-rice risotto, I told the waiter about the undercooked rice. To which he responded “we use a special Italian rice that is meant to be harder than usual and that's how the risotto is supposed to be, sorry.” Okay. I supposed that's one way to put it.
There are so many other items that we want to try from Jamie's Italian and I'm not willing to let some undercooked rice stop me from going back there, after all the service was pleasant and a casual (which I think is just the way that the Brisbane food scene is heading), the atmosphere was brilliant and the food, well that's the highlight of having Jamie in town.
Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $57.50