EAT OUT: Jamie's Italian South Africa
You might have wondered why I have been gone for a while - well I was launching this new and hot restaurant to the press. We officially opened to the public on December 15, 2016 and since then let the hype sink in. In January we hit the media hard and fast. I organised and held six events total at the restaurant where our media friends were able to come and enjoy all it had to offer.
Great success! I am still in awe of how well the restaurant has done both with the public and the media. People across the world are inherent foodie's without even knowing it. People are passionate about good food and who doesn't love eating dishes made with pride and passion.
Working behind the scenes - I have had the opportunity to see the hard work that has gone into making Jamie's Italian what it is today. We all know about this franchise, we all know about Jamie Oliver and we also have probably eaten at a Jamie's Italian overseas at some point. While this all works in our favour, it's also massive shoes to fill. Pleasing the South African audience isn't as easy as it seems, we have a very distinct palette, and like our foods a certain way, especially Italian cuisine.
Jamie, being from the UK, started this restaurant group in the UK first before taking it international. The challenge was taking what was authentically European and tailoring for each region. Here, we love our flavours and spices and this was one of the main challenges to incorporate into the SA menu.
I have eaten at Jamie's countless times now because of work and each time had the opportunity to try something different. Personally, dishes that don't compare to any other Italian restaurant is the signature Jamie Oliver meat planks and the desserts - but also the prawn linguine pasta - one of the hero dishes on the menu.
The story behind how the meat planks came to be is personal to Jamie Oliver. So, one night in the middle of nowhere, out in the country side somewhere in the UK, Jamie was hosting a group people and of course cooked up a storm for them. It is believed that because he had no serving dishes available to place the food on (as they were in the middle of nowhere) he used random planks he found lying around the place to serve the food on.
like any other clever chef and businessman he turned this into a signature Jamie dish which is now on most Jamie's Italian menu around the world.
Let's talk about the prawn linguine. I saw this dish being made from beginning to end. Fun fact: Head Chef - Shane Smit says they easily make hundreds of this specific dish each day.
At Jamie's Italian they have imported very specific machinery from Italy which is used at most of the restaurants world wide, from the pizza ovens to the pasta making machines.
Basically, the dough is handmade, put into a big, red machine which spits out the linguine used in this dish. From there the pasta is boiled at a very heat in sea water, then transferred into a frying pan with the sauce and prawns and spun together and delicately placed on the plate, garnished and sent off.
The time, patience and pride taken into presentation of each dish is quite intensive and very impressive.
Now the dessert....rich, creamy, freshly made and simply amazing! This is the Praline Pudding served with vanilla ice-cream and ground nuts and the most tantilising chocolate sauce. It definitely is a sugar rush, and you probably won't finish all but...I have never tasted any kind of pudding like this before.
This is just one of the desserts. There is ice-cream, sorbets, puddings and lots more to choose from. My other favourite dessert I recommend you try is the Chocolate Brownie (you can see I am a chocolate fan) but these desserts will change your life.
There is something on the menu for everyone and caters to vegetarians, vegans and kiddies. The menu is very family friendly and simple. The food is always the main focus and attraction. Therefore, the simple and easy A3 poster sized spread.
The ambiance, style, mood and layout of the restaurant is all aligned to cater to family and friends being able to gather around a table, eat, drink and have a great time together. The design and decor was in line with the vibe of Melrose Arch, being the metropolitan of Jo'burg and also giving this Jamie's a classy touch. Elements of the gold mining industry in Jo'burg was incorporated into the textures and finishing touches, as well as the traditional South African prints being used in the patterns.
The food is the star of the show and I definitely recommend visiting the restaurant and having a good old evening with delicious food, friends and family and make it a night to remember.