Since being in Canberra, I’ve been lucky enough to see a number of my friends who have visited Canberra for work. The most recent visit was my friend David, who I’ve previously mentioned in The Beaufort Street Merchant, Little Willy’s and The Lounge Room posts. A and I decided that the newly opened Jamie’s Italian would be a perfect venue for our dinner with David.
When we arrived at 7pm, the line consisted of only one party in front of us. In comparison to the outlets in Perth and Sydney, this was very surprising as typically there’s at least an hour wait just to get to the front of the line. When I approached the host, we were told that there was an hour and a half wait. We put our name down and then headed to Honkytonks for a drink.
Twenty minutes in and only a quarter of the way through my cider, I received a text telling me that our table was ready at Jamie’s Italian. Quickest hour and a half ever!
The venue fit out is very similar to the décor featured within the other Australian outlets, with funky colours featured as well as a mix of booths and tables with chairs. To start with, David and I ordered a glass of the Borgo Frare Prosecco Brut NV from Veneto, Italy ($10) while A ordered a glass of the Barone Ricasoli Chianti ($12), from Tuscany. I ordered this when we went to Jamie’s Italian in Perth and I really enjoyed it, as I particularly like sangiovese wine.
For our entrées, the three of us decided to share Fried Three Cheese Gnocchi ($9.50) and Crispy Tomato and Mozzarella Arancini ($10.50). When A and I were in Italy earlier this year, we sampled quite a few arancini’s, as each region makes different variations. A and I agreed that Jamie’s Italians arancini’s tasted quite authentic, with the outer area crunchy and the inside a perfect dome of melted mozzarella cheese nestled amongst the body of rice, served with spicy arrabbiata sauce and parmesan cheese. Such a great appetiser!
When David first suggested the Fried Three Cheese Gnocchi to share, I thought that it would be very indulgent and heavy. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as heavy as expected and was actually quite light and crunchy. Even though it featured three cheeses, the gnocchi itself was light and moreish and I loved the accompanying fiery arrabiata dip. This was a great dish to share between the three of us.
For our mains, David ordered an entrée-size of Jool’s Favourite Sicilian Tuna Fusilli ($13.00/$19.00), featuring Albacore tuna slow-cooked with tomatoes, garlic, herbs & cinnamon with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs. I’ve been eyeing this dish and recipe for a while now, as my friend Ashlee has said that it is one of her favourite recipes to make. David said that he really enjoyed this dish.
A ordered the Rump Steak Salad ($24.50), which featured 180g aged Aussie Black Angus steak with crunchy fennel, watercress, mint, chilli, garlic, horseradish & lemon. A enjoyed her salad, which she ate with the side of the polenta chips. There was a very generous amount of rump steak provided, which A was happy to share with me. The steak was cooked medium rare and seasoned lightly. Overall, a great dish for those who don’t feel like pasta.
I ordered an entrée-size of the Sausage Pappardelle ($13.50/$19.50) after David’s recommendation. I was also influenced by the description on the menu, “Slow-braised fennel sausage ragù with red wine, parmesan and crunchy, herby breadcrumbs”. I enjoyed this dish but found it a little too salty for my liking and the pasta a little undercooked from the typical al dente.
With our mains, we also ordered a side of Apple Slaw ($7.50) and JI’s Famous Polenta Chips ($8.50) to share. We all loved the polenta chips and this was my favourite dish of the night. The chips were super crunchy on the exterior and served with rosemary and parmesan cheese. I could’ve eaten a bowl to myself – easily!
I found the apple slaw a little off-balance but David suggested it was because I was eating it without mixing the ingredients together to stir the yoghurt through the mixture, which consisted of radishes, walnuts, candied beets, mint and lemon with yoghurt. I have to admit that I didn’t think to mix the salad together but will order a typical green salad next time.
Seeing as though I had a hankering for something sweet after my main, I decided to order dessert. I had issues deciding between the trio of ice-creams or the JI Epic Brownie, but finally decided to order the latter. The JI Epic Brownie ($10) is a warm fudgy brownie with amaretto ice cream & caramelised amaretti popcorn. This was an excellent dessert, with the fudgey brownie living up to it’s title, as well as the caramelised amaretti popcorn which added a bit of bite to this dish. The brownie and popcorn were the perfect match for the amaretto ice cream. Definitely recommend ordering this dessert if you have a sweet tooth!
David ordered the Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue Pie ($9.50), made with limoncello and served with a crunchy pistachio brittle. David said that he had ordered this dessert before at the Perth outlet and loved it. As mentioned in my JI Perth post, I found it a little too sweet for my liking. David was unable to finish it too, even with A’s help but still believes it is an excellent dessert.
The service during the evening was overall quite good and we enjoyed our evening. Even though I wasn’t completely happy with my main, I still love Jamie’s Italian for its inexpensive, hearty cuisine that tries to provide patrons with the best of both worlds. I’ll definitely return.
* In April 2014, I revisited Jamie’s Italian in Canberra and had a disappointing experience. You can read the summary here. Unfortunately, I now no longer recommend a visit.