Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Jamie's Italian in South Africa. Melrose Arch


This is the recently opened Jamie's Italian Restaurant in Melrose Arch.
I was uncertain as to what to expect, given the upmarket location.
 As I was wearing shorts,
I thought that I might be denied access (it has happened to me before)
but I found the exact opposite...
Friendly staff and a venue that is designed to engender a great eating experience.
(As an aside, Jamie Oliver was known as the "Naked Chef",
a title that concerned him as he was afraid that his Nan would think he was a porn star)

A cool welcoming drink on a hot afternoon.
What a mixture.

This is what greets visitors to the restaurant...
This area could almost be a stand alone deli.

This well stocked bar is situated on the ground floor. 
I would imagine that guests would be hard pressed to find
 a beverage that was not on offer.

Not Jamie!
Although in this light, this chef did remind me of another TV Chef.
Handmade pasta for the diners to enjoy.

Aside from the public eating space upstairs, 
there is this area that can be closed off for private functions or celebrations.
It has its own bar in order to make certain that the drinks are served timeously
and do not get delayed by the diners downstairs

I do like these light fittings.
The d├ęcor mixes old and new.
 Industrial exposed ceilings are juxtaposed with comfortable modern seating
 in a variety of configurations.

PROPER cloth napkins!
Because they are branded, they have a memorabilia value
and over 30000 are "stolen" from his establishments internationally on an annual basis.
Locally they have "lost" about 3500 since the restaurant opened.
You don't HAVE to expropriate them,
as a pack of four can be purchased for R115.00. 

My wife in her "happy space"...
choosing items off a menu!

Our shared starter...
Crispy Squid.
They were most delicious and the portion size was sufficient for us to share.
There was enough sauce to make certain that each piece was generously coated.
Most YUM!

My main course...
Gennaro's Tagliatelle Bolognese.
Grass-fed beef, slow cooked & topped with pangrattato & parmesan.
The pasta comes in two sizes,small and regular,
 so just be aware of that fact if you are not too hungry.
By the same token, you can order a full portion 
and you will then have enough for a "doggy bag".
I found this helping to be generous with both the pasta as well as the sauce.
It was most delicious and, as I was rather "peckish" I did finish it all.

On the menu this was described as,
Silky Spaghetti Carbonara...but my wife chose to have it with fettuccine.
Sweet tender leeks with golden smoky pancetta, cracked black pepper & parmesan.
My wife enjoyed this dish.
As I mentioned, she was able substitute her pasta for one that she preferred.
Had she but known that dessert was going to be provided as a birthday treat,
she might, in retrospect, have ordered the smaller portion.

No bottled or processed cheese here, thank you very much!
Fresh and hand grated at the table.
Unlike "Oliver" (not Jamie) you can ask for more if you wish.

Prepared on the fly...
(with thanks to Eugene).

We were told that THIS chocolate Brownie was sublime.
And my wife concurred...
It was topped with ice cream and caramelized popcorn.

I don't do chocolate,
so this was my treat...
Fresh ice cream, topped with caramel and honeycomb.
Both desserts were mouth-wateringly delicious
and made us decide to have cappuccinos
 to take the edge off the sweetness. 

Overall it is all about the experience as well as the food.
Jamie is very proud of his brand and justifiably so.
 This is reflected in the training 
of both the floor staff as well as management.
At no time did we have to "look" for our waiter,
and the food was served piping hot 
and with a minimum waiting time.
Was it expensive?
Compared to what?
It was cheaper than a fine dining experience,
but more expensive that a fast food franchise.
The bottom line is would we return?
The answer is a resounding "Yes".
There are a few more dishes on the menu that we would like to enjoy.

Talk about branding!
You know that you have "arrived" as a celebrity,
when a cistern is named in your honour.

My wife and I decided "walk off" our meal
by wandering around Melrose Arch.
We chanced upon the Melrose Gallery, which was open.
They have been open for 12 weeks and the current exhibition
offers both art pieces and  art photographs.
Well worth a visit as it is an awesome space
and the works are sublime.


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