The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Festive lunch @ Jamie's Italian [Tsim Sha Tsui], Hong Kong

Happy New Year! I cannot believe how quickly 2015 went by, and no doubt I will be saying the same thing in 12 months time. We celebrated Christmas day at Jamie's Italian in Harbour City. We have wanted to try Jamie Oliver's restaurants since he opened his first Hong Kong restaurant in 2014, but the thought of the weekend crowd at Causeway Bay always deterred me, especially with two kids in tow. We heard that he opened up a second restaurant in Harbour City, much closer to home, but the weekend crowd is not much better at Harbour City either. When we were looking at dining out options for Christmas day, Jamie's Italian was one of the restaurants we considered. The Festive Menu (HK$588) was made available on the website, and it consisted of three courses with five choices of mains and four options for dessert. The Festive Kids Menu (HK$220) also had three courses, with two mains to choose from. To confirm our booking, we had to send in a credit card authorisation form, as a guarantee against a last minute no-show. We arrived around 11:30 for lunch, and the restaurant was rather empty. It filled up slowly but surely, and was full by the time we left at 1:45pm.

Entering the restaurant flanked by a few booths and bar seats:

A larger dining area with tables and booths:

Onion, garlic and large legs of ham hanging by the open kitchen where some of the food were being prepared:

The waitstaff did their best to please and to provide a good service, but there were a few hiccups along the way and a few things seemed unorganised. When I tried to order the Pannetone Gelato for dessert (it was listed on the Festive Menu), I was told that it was not available. My son requested vanilla flavour instead, but when it came time for dessert, we were told that vanilla ice cream was not available too! We were the first seating for the day in the restaurant, so we did not expect anything to run out. But I understand that these things happen, and what matters more to me is that the staff were genuine in their efforts.

The starters were served on a plank. At one end were the cured meats which included fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto and schiacciata piccante. Further along the plank were the fish: smoked fish pâté served on crusty bread (my favourite item on the plank, though the unpitted olives were annoying, and the smoked fish pâté was better without the pickled peperoncini), beetroot-cured salmon, and roasted shellfish (pictured off the plank towards the bottom of shot). The menu also indicated mini fritto misto with lemon mayo was to be served as part of the fish plank, but that was not served:

At the other end of the starter plank were the cheese - pecorino & chilli jam on a thin cracker, and mini buffalo mozzarella:

Also part of the starters course is the smoky mozzarella frittelle with spicy arrabbiata pesto. This was the kids' favourite. In the background is a glass of prosecco which is included in the Festive Menu (I opted for a glass of freshly squeezed apple juice so that the 2-year-old did not feel left out when her big brother got juice that was included in the kids' menu):

From the Festive Kids' Menu, the 7-year-old chose the Secret Seven Cheesy Pasta Bake for his main course - "homemade curly wurly pasta baked in Jamie's seven-veg tomato sauce with an English Cheddar cheese crust and crunchy herby breadcrumbs". Honestly, this was very plain-tasting and nothing special. Perfect for the littlest ones, but older kids may have preferred the Baby Beef Burgers instead which was the other choice for the kids' main course. Kids' meal included a salad and drink:

For his mains, hubby selected the 24-hour Slow-cooked Roasted Pork Belly filled with apple, sage, raisins and Christmas spices. He really enjoyed this one (and so did the boy), but it was quite rich and heavy so a couple of bites were enough for me:

I went for the decidedly unfestive choice of Sea Bass Fillets, pan-fried and served on celeriac and fennel purée with brown shrimp, samphire, lemon and brown butter. I really enjoyed this, though hubby preferred his pork:

The grilled vegetables and polenta chips that came with the main courses. The kids loved the polenta chips:

The Festive Kids' dessert course is Our Gooey Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream, crunchy toffee popcorn and chocolate sauce. Very good, considering it is a kids' dessert:

Christmas Cheesecake with toasted Italian meringue and bramble berry compote. Also very good, but the hefty portion would have been too much if I wasn't sharing:

Honeycomb-flavoured Gelato, as a stand-in for the missing Pannetone Gelato. Yummy with crunchy bits of honeycomb, but three scoops is too much for one person:

It was a good lunch. There's potential for Jamie's Italian to succeed, and I am certain that things will run more smoothly in a few months time once the restaurant overcomes the initial teething stages.

[Prices above do not include any service charge, and tipping is encouraged (unusual in Hong Kong where a 10% service charge is usually mandatory)]

Jamie's Italian [TST]
Shop 412, Level 4, Ocean Centre
Harbour City
17 Canton Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel. +852 3758 3333

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