Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Jamie's Italian Hong Kong

Besides Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Kitchen opening later this year, I don’t think there’s been as much hype over a restaurant as Jamie Oliver’s new resto where photos were flooding my social media feeds during its soft opening phase. While I knew that the food wouldn’t be stellar food, I was curious to check it out seeing as it was backed by a newly formed restaurant group by the former GM of Ikea (Big Cat Group for those who are interested.)

Even with 200 seatings, I was told the lines would be insane with 80% of its seating reserved for walk in customers. My friend and I had somehow thought it was still soft opening stages but then found out the day we were planning on going was actually its grand opening day so we were wondering if we needed a contingency plan for dinner. She decided to brave the masses and showed up at 6 and got us a table quite promptly. The nice thing was that even though I didn’t arrive until 7, the staff didn’t harass her to order food etc, they were perfectly content to let her have her cocktail and wait until I arrive.

Onto the dining experience itself. There were some kinks which was evident by the frantic running about of the staff (and how long it took for our drinks to arrive and some confusion in our orders) but on the whole, service was pleasant and I spied a number of folks from other restaurant groups who are now with Jamie’s wandering around ensuring that things were running smoothly.

The food itself really isn’t much to write home about but nor did I expect it to be. There weren’t any outstanding dishes and the general consensus was that everything was ‘okay’. What they have going for them is their pricing, appetisers are under $100, small portions of pasta under $100 while large portions are in the $155 range, mains are between $150 to $320 and cocktails start from $55.

We started with Fried 3-cheese gnocchi. Not very cheesy but the fiery arrabiata dip was ok. Fiery is a bit of a misnomer tho. It wasn’t spicy.

Then we had the fish plank (beet-root cured salmon, roasted shellfish, smoked mackerel pate & mini fritto misto with lemon mayo). All was ok. Nothing mind blowing nor was it bad. Pretty much setting the tone for the entire meal.

This was the crab and avocado bruschetta. The apple was a nice touch but couldn’t taste much crab.

Posh chips with truffle oil and Parmesan. Nice thick chunks and was blazing hot which I liked. Not much truffle scent though.

Crispy squid. So soft that I thought it was fish at first.

Disappointing dish of the night: squid ink spaghetti where the scallops were overcooked and pasta was not al dente. Unfortunate as this was the dish recommended by their staff.

Lamb lollipops with herby red onion salad, yogurt sauce, toasted nuts and polenta chips. Chops were nice and juicy while the polenta was very salty for some reason.

I think the restaurant will do well and certainly there were folks still walking in at 9:30pm to try the food. Is it worth going to? It will depend on what you're in the mood for. Folks have been comparing its pricing to Fat Angelo's and Pizza Hut but with better quality food. Dinner for us came to HK$900 and we had four drinks and a dessert on top of the above.

2/f, Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Hong Kong Causeway Bay, Tel: 3958 2222

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