Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

[Review] Jamie's Italian @ Dundrum Town Centre

Jamie Oliver mania has hit Dublin hard with the opening of Jamie's Italian in Dundrum Town Centre. Twitter has been awash with fulsome praise for the food, the venue, the staff, and practically everything else.  I reckon that I won't be breaking any bad news if I reveal that Jamie himself won't be cooking the kitchen. The Dundrum location is an outpost in this popular chain of restaurants. As Jamie himself said back in June
That's not what I do. I pay for it, I pay people's wages, I choose the right people and really the only thing I do is write the menus, change the senior management and create a culture where people get a 40-quid meal for 17 to 21 quid. 
Like most people, I think Jamie is rather great. From his initial cheeky-chappy, moped-riding persona in The Naked Chef, he now campaigns vigourously for better food for school children and employs young troubled people in his Fifteen restaurants. He is one of the TV chefs that I can watch time and time again. I like his food as it's big on flavour and impact, but easy to make. I've eaten in Fifteen in London and liked it. But would the Jamie charisma translate in Dundrum? 

Two recent lunches (firstly by ourselves, and then with Mr. & Mrs. H) have given me plenty of material. On both occasions, we hit the restaurant early on a Saturday, seeking to avoid the queues that come later in the afternoon. God bless the Irish and their tendency to think that lunch doesn't start until 1pm. In an effort to prove the earnestness of the Oliver brand, a chef is hand making pasta in a little glass cubicle as we enter the restaurant. I wonder if they feel like an animal in the zoo?

The interior is retro cool with a polished concrete floor, white and dark red tiles and canteen style furniture. The walls of the split-level space are filled with foodstuffs both for consumption and for sale to take home. After all, this is Jamie-brand central. It's a cheerful and happy space that channels the Jamie approach.

So what about the food? A special of cauliflower and romanesco fritti was bland in it's deep-fried coating, while a butternut squash and ricotta bruschetta was bright and seasonal. I was puzzled when our server plonked two tins of tomato on the table, which turned out to be the base for a dolmen-like structure with my meat plank (a slightly meagre selection of cheeses & Italian meats, €8.75). Arancini, or risotto balls filled with gooey strings of smoked mozzarella and porcini mushrooms were decidedly moreish (€6.50).
Clockwise from top left - risotto balls, wild ragu pasta pipe, ricotta & butternut squash bruschetta and funky chips
Pastas were deemed rather good. A prawn linguine with shaved fennel, chili, tomatoes and rocket  was bright and flavoursome (small €9.50). Wild ragu pasta was rich and warming - a perfect pasta dish for cold winter days. All pastas are available gluten-free, although this isn't mentioned on the menu. Not knowing this vital fact at the time of choosing, I went for wild truffle risotto with butter and parmesan (large €14.75). This was an excellent risotto, fragrant with earthy truffle. The only downside was the dotting of parsley seedlings on top for decoration. For the record, I don't like parsley, which I find  pungent and harsh. As a result I ended up picking off all the little leaves from the risotto.

We sampled both types of potato fries - namely funky chips with garlic and parsley (€3.95) and the now commonplace posh chips with parmesan and truffle (€4.25). The jury's verdict was unanimous, the funky chips were the best.
Black truffle risotto

Garlicky prawn linguini

The staff at Jamie's are incessantly cheerful, and there's plenty of them, but it doesn't grate (immensely) on your nerves. In one case, we practically had to shoo away our server as he just wouldn't stop praising the daily specials. This either speaks volumes about the staff enthusiasm for the Jamie brand, or else it's crass commercialism. I haven't quite figured out which one.

Irrespective, the food at Jamie's Italian is enjoyable, and the small/large portion sizes makes it easy to mix and match. On both visits, Gerry Fitzpatrick (Jamie's Irish business partner in the venture) was keeping a close eye on goings on. Jamies has been in the making since 2011, and lots of Irish produce features on the menu, bringing an Irish touch to this Italian menu. As we leave after lunch, all seats are taken and the place is humming with conversation. It's a winning recipe.

Jamie's Italian, Pembroke District, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 16
Tel: +353 (0)1 298 0600
Twitter: @JamiesItalianIE


Anonymous said...

Great breakdown of the menu Joanne, there are a few things I will be able to choose between when I finally get there. Thanks Rosemarie

veru said...

Do not like the fake italian idea in Jamie Oliver restaurants and the one in Dundrum makes no difference for me. Not italian but pretend to be... disastrous for me...

WiseMóna said...

Sounds like it should be in the list. There is a place in the states called Buca de Beppo that sounds so like the Jamie Oliver experience. Great write up as always. My 'eat in Dublin' trusted source right here on your blog!

antonio said...

I'm Italian, I was there and I can't really say that it was 'fake'. Certainly you wouldn't see some Irish or English things on italian menu (for example the insistence on garlic), but I found the food pretty good overall: the pasta was cooked to perfection and the wild ragu sauce was pretty good.

I think that it is a lot better than some Italian places in Dublin that are managed by Italian people and do not care less about either the quality of the food that they are serving or the quality of the service itself (being rude seems to be the rule in some places...).

veru said...

Antonio I'm italian too and I don't want to compare Jamie with other restaurants. Just say that is not italian (that ragu is not a ragu at all but non italian and some italians like even if it is not a real one) and pretend to be italian IMHO. It's all about marketing and apparently it works... btw everyone has an idea about food and likes things others do not like... so also judgements are always different.

dudara said...

I honestly thought the pastas were as good as any I've had, as was the risotto. I'll grant Jamie (and Gennaro Contaldo, who designed the menu) a little leeway, but there's no doubt that the food is Italian in origin.

Colette said...

Really enjoyed reading this G, was wondering how it would work out for the brand in Dundrum. Sounds like it certainly is worth a visit, when we are next over that way.

Caroline Berryman said...

These dishes just looks so yummy! I bet this will be a perfect match to my favorite tea drink too. I'll sure be trying this out.

electric_scooter said...
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