Many food bloggers have commented that the naked chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant is so-so. But we were lucky. Sg Food on Foot (Derrick) and Pinky Piggu had been here on separate occasions and knew what to order and not. Because of their wise decisions, almost all the food we had were superb and I left the restaurant extremely satisfied. TIP: Not all things are delicious. Order the right ones.
While the experience was mostly good, there were two hiccups: (1) inconsistency and (2) almost all the good antipasti (appetizers) weren’t available. Derrick said that the baked mushrooms ($12.50) and crispy squid ($11.50) were the best. Like Kelly Clarkson’s song, they were “already gone” at 7pm when we wanted to order. Left with no choice, we had the meat plank (or platter, $15.50/pax), consisting 2 types of cured pork, 2 types of cured beef, a palm-sized beetroot salad and burrata cheese. This was a waste of money. My advice is if the mushrooms and squid aren’t available, you might as well skip antipasti and go straight to mains.
For the pastas and risottos , there are two sizes, small and large–get the large. It’s only a few dollars more but twice the portion. All pastas are made fresh daily, and yes, even the fusilli. In general, the pastas are cooked slightly before al dente, so there is a bite. The Jools’ favorite Sicilian tuna fusilli ($14/$21, pictured above) came tangy-sourish, more so than the first time Derrick tried it (hence the inconsistency). But it wasn’t a bad sourish; it was appetizing. The tagliatelle Bolognese ($15/22, below) was thick ribbons of pasta in a ragu of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti, Parmesan and bread crumbs– and one of us described it as Italian bak chor mee.
While the pastas were passable, I liked the wild truffle risotto ($16/$24.50) better because the taste was rather special, milky instead of creamy. I’d prefer a short grain rice that is softer, but this rice had a bite and I could see the merit in it–to each their own. That being said, my 3 eating companions preferred the pastas, citing that the risotto lacked depth and could get monotonous if one person is to finish it entirely.
It got much, much better with the mains. Many people ordered the visually appealing Jamie’s Italian Burger ($27.50) but we heard mixed reviews and avoided it. The most expensive item on the menu, 30-day matured prime rib ($59.50), was perfect! It came in a thick 350g slab of Angus beef, topped with truffle butter and truffles (add $5), served cheekily on a steak-shaped chopping board. The medium-rareness was done gorgeously and the fats were so juicy. I said to myself, “I’m going to spit out the fats, I’m going to spit out the fats.” The fats replied, “Not going to happen today, dude.” The steak was so savory that FoodieFC couldn’t bear to take the last bite. This is a MUST-ORDER.
Another MUST-ORDER is the pink snapper ($32), extremely good value and almost as good as Burnt End’s. It came as a whole fish soaked in a sauce of olives, garlic, wine, capers and baby plum tomatoes. This was the first time I had plum tomatoes, which tasted amazing, a complex taste of tomatoes and kiam chai (salted vegetables). The sauce enhanced to marvelous effect the moistness of fish. Dish of the day.
The desserts were better than average but nothing to rave about. My eating companions liked the wobbly panna cotta ($9) but I didn’t think it was smooth or wobbly enough. They said it was smoother the last time they had it (another inconsistency). The Tutti Frutti lemon meringue ($11.50. pictured below) was fun, a lemon tart for its base, with a cream that was both ethereal and substantial at the same time and tasted like popcorn, littered with Tutti Frutti and burnt walnut candy. But I found it too sweet and could be tarter.
The service was fantastic. The staff was friendly, funny and polite. Very efficient. Our plates were changed frequently. Water topped up. See, a new restaurant can have great service too. From now on, Jamie’s Italian is my yardstick for measuring good service to other new restaurants.
The decor is a glam casualness – wooden table, linen napkins but with dim lights and deep red booth seats. I liked it. No more industrial chic decor, please, too many of them in Singapore.
Overall, we love everything about the restaurant, the service, the decor, and the food. We paid $57 per person, and thought it was good value for the food we had. When I return next time, I’d just ignore the rest and whack the steak and fish.
1 HarbourFront Walk,
VivoCity, #1 165-167
Jamie’s Italian Menu
Rating: 4.063/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.