Casual Italian at Jamie’s

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to Jaimie’s Italian with a large group of ladies.  Practically everyone has heard of Jaimie Oliver and as the result of being a celebrity chef, his restaurant in Sydney is literally full to bursting at all hours.  Even though the place has been open for more than a year, it is as popular and bustling now as it was in its early months.  Since they don’t take reservations for groups smaller than six people, the wait is often 1.5 to 2 hours.  I did go once about a year ago and didn’t recall the food really being worth that absurdly long wait.  However, with a booking, it’s more than worth it for the fun atmosphere and simple fresh food that for Sydney is actually completely reasonably priced. (As in, you can get away with paying about $50 for a really large meal plus alcohol.)

We breezed in due to our lovely reservation, bypassing the usual horde of people at the door, and got a fabulous variety of food that is only possible when you have a large group.  They have a huge selection of signature plates bursting with fresh and colourful antipasti, which I loved, and all of their pastas and sides were delicious.  Another huge plus of this restaurant is that they seem to hire only the most attractive people – our estrogen filled table was basically in giggles over our hot waiter the entire time (ok, maybe that was mostly me).  Eating out is not just about the food of course, and the atmosphere here is really fun.  But onto the food…

IMG_5292One of the signature planks: going from front to back, some flatbread with a hard pecorino cheese and some sweet chili jam on top of it, a coleslaw, fresh mozzarella, olives, and a selection of meats including prosciutto and bresaola.  The mozzarella was fantastic and meats were great – I mean I’ve had better in Italy but let’s not get too snobby.  Mostly the presentation was just really pretty.

IMG_5293The seafood plank, including mussels, a fritto misto, mussels and clams, cold cured Tasmanian trout, and an amazing smoked mackerel pate with crisp bread.  Loved the presentation of this too and the mussels especially were fantastic.

IMG_5294One of the mains – a giant meatball in tomato and garlic ragu over polenta with wilted greens on the side

IMG_5295One of the handmade pasta dishes – tuna slow-cooked with tomatoes, garlic, herbs and cinnamon with crunchy breadcrumbs.  I loved the touch of cinnamon here!  The pasta was really fresh and delicious.

IMG_5297Special of the day – chicken cacciatore with olives, fresh thyme, and fresh foccacia

IMG_5298Some delightful sides – green beans in an amazing tomato sauce, polenta chips, and wilted greens with fresh chili.  Let’s revisit the polenta chips for a minute – they have quite the reputation and it’s well-deserved.  They are perfectly crunchy on the outside and have fresh parmesan on the top and rosemary.  Unbelievably addictive and they went great with the tomato sauce on the green beans!

IMG_5299Classic tiramisu with some pretty orange zest – I’m not massively into coffee flavoured desserts but I had a bite and it was very light and airy

IMG_5303On the left, a sour cherry bakewell – berries with a sweet almond filling and a clementine laced sour cream – and on the right a lovely lemon meringue pie with some pistachio brittle on the side.  Not pictured is this chocolate brownie which looked plain but honestly was probably the best of all the desserts.  Ridiculously chocolate-y and amazing.

In summary, Jaimie’s is a great place to go with friends and to gawk at attractive waiters.  The food is good but not spectacular, but the atmosphere is really fun and lively and particularly if you can get a large group together and make a reservation, it’s a wonderful way to spend your evening!

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