Life is busy. It gets that way for us all, but these days it almost feels like it's out of control just how swamped both myself and my boy Jeremy have been. He's studying to become a paramedic after the decision to change careers so there's been a great deal of planning, putting some dreams on hold and just a general rearranging of priorities. But despite all that, it's a really exciting time for us because he's going to be doing something so important all for the sake of helping others.
While we're adjusting to these new circumstances, we haven't been able to spend as much quality time together as we'd like. While we see each other at home every night, he's studying a great deal and I'm exhausted from work. So when the weekend rolled around, we promised one another we'd try to get out of the house for a little while for some one on one time.
We'd been hoping to go to The Stables Bar since my boy still hasn't been, but sadly we discovered they're closed on Sundays for lunch! Damn, I was definitely eying those little but amazing looking sliders they have on their menu. There's always next time though.
After a quick walk around the neighbourhood, we decided to just bite the bullet and try our luck at Jamie's Italian. We've eaten here a few times already but the city is actually quite limited on Sundays and we were hungry!
To read about my previous visits click here and here.
It's just before 12pm when we arrive and after our previous visits here we are expecting a long wait. But to our surprise we're told they can seat us immediately if we're happy to sit at the bar in the back of the restaurant. No problem at all for us, we'll do anything to be fed right at that moment - and the bar has a great view over the cold prep station where we see meat boards, salads and peppers being prepared.
The menus presented to us are a little different to the last time we visited, and immediately I notice they no longer offer the complimentary bread selection. While they're only charging $1.50 per person (and donating $1 of that), I do miss that little freebie. I'm such a sucker for something for nothing, not that I like admitting that!
Never mind though, I get over it quick enough and I consider ordering a bread tin depending on what I pick for my lunch. If I go with pasta, then the bread is a natural accompaniment - perfect for mopping up the delicious sauces that lie at the base of each bowl.
While we decide on what to eat, we place an order for a drink each. Neither of us is in the mood for alcohol today so Jeremy chooses the Ginger Mojito ($6.50) which is fizzy, minty and refreshingly light.
I choose the Refresher ($6.50) which is made of fresh lemon, elderflower cordial, cranberry juice and lemonade. My first sip is a bit hit of cordial which is overwhelming, but once I stir the drink around a couple times it settles the flavours and delightfully lives up to its name.
The Jamie's Italian burger
Though my boy is a massive pasta fiend, today the Jamie's Italian Burger ($19.50) catches his eye from the mains menu. It comes to the table stacked particularly high and I have to admit considering the price, we're both expecting big things.
Inside a lightly toasted sesame seed bun sits a Black Angus hamburger patty topped with tomato, lettuce, smoked mozzarella, pancetta, sticky balsamic onions, pickles and chillies. There's a lot going on here and I notice that as Jeremy bites down a stream of juice comes dribbling out the other end.
While the ingredients are fresh and complimentary, my boy felt that there needed to be a sauce to bind it all together. The smoked mozzarella is a nice flavour that distinguishes this from your average burger though and makes it memorable.
For my lunch, I decide on two of the smaller plates instead of a main or pasta. While I too love pasta, it's a hot day and I figure I'm not quite in the mood. The first of my plates is the Crispy Squid ($12.50).
I love seafood, and can really appreciate when it's fresh and treated with respect by the chef in a restaurant. I'm happy to say that Jamie's version is crunchy, garlicky and has a nice accompaniment of chilli amongst the serving. The garlic mayonnaise on the side is creamy and extremely moorish - my boy (among stealing half the squid) ends up dunking his burger in the sauce for some added flavour on his dish.
The only downfall of the squid is the serving size. For $12.50 at this 'afforable' restaurant, I was expecting more than the five pieces in our bowl. It's such a shame because it was delicious, but I wouldn't order it again knowing I could make it at home and get so much more for my money.
Crab & avocado bruschetta
My second plate is the Crab & Avocado Bruschetta ($16). It's a slice of grilled sourdough topped with blue swimmer crab and avocado, plus apple matchsticks, chilli, mint, lemon and olive oil.
The bread the crab sits upon is skinny and hard - more like a traditional Italian hard bread than soft sumptuous sourdough that I've experienced elsewhere. While initially we'd thought sitting at the bar was a good thing, it did highlight to me that the bread used was pre-grilled and my dish was assembled and left to sit for about 15 minutes before coming to my table. I think a warmer and more doughy slice of bread would really have elevated this.
Crab & avocado bruschetta
The blue swimmer crab is sweet and delicate - it's such a lovely seafood item and works well with the crisp and sour apple batons that criss cross along the bread.
I'm disappointed to see that the avocado is actually on the side not on top, but once I start smothering the bread with it I get over this reaction. There's also a ricotta-esque dip on the side which left me a little confused over what exactly I was eating - it tasted nice enough, though I'm not sure if it added anything to the dish.
I love the mint and chilli on top of the crab, plus the good lug of olive oil that's smooth and flavoursome. For the most part this is a really great and fresh dish - one I would happily try to recreate at home in the near future (with a little tweaks to suit my own personal tastes).
All in all it wasn't our best visit to Jamie's in terms of the dishes we chose. While there wasn't any glaring problems, there were little things that disappointed and took away the shine we experienced on our previous visits. The squid was definitely the highlight, and left a fantastic taste in my mouth as we walked out into the hot summer weather.