Friendship Fire Starter: Dinner Date Part Two

Anatomy of an Evening / Location : Stitch Bar, York Street / Jamie’s Italian, Pitt Street, Sydney

If you have asked me in 2008 if I would be prepared endure a 3 hours waiting period for a table vacancy at a Sydney city restaurant the answer would have been a stern NO. The likelihood of me having a group of friends willing to partake in such lunacy four years ago…also highly unlikely.

But transport to the year 2012…not only was I willing, able and above all determined to partake it this culinary endurance test, I had 3 other friends keen to join in the proceedings.

Let me introduce them:

Dinner Guest S

Jamie’s Italian….Jamie Oliver’s Italian…Opened in Sydney 6 months ago….and the buzz surrounding this eatery is alive and well.

A fan of the Naked Chef for many years, my excitement was clearly visible as I waited eagerly for my chariot, the 339 bus to take me to the city

‘You going somewhere ?’ asked the local corner store owner upon seeing me at the bus stop

‘Yes, I am going to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant tonight’

‘ Wow’

‘ I know, at least it is not McDonalds’ ( such was my enthusiasm that I really can’t recall why I even said that)

Luckily, the bus turned up and I was whisked off, city bound.

I meet S, A and B in the queue for the eatery at 6.30pm. A queue some 20 people deep….interesting, slightly unnerving….My posses reached the restaurant lobby, our request was placed : ‘ Table for four please’

‘It will be a 2 ½ hour to 3 hour wait guys’

That is fine’ remarked A

‘Can I have a contact number for the booking?’ and A recited 10 digits quickly, perhaps in the hope it would reduce our waiting time by 15 minutes.

I could not help myself…I had begun to feel slightly responsible for arranging a 6.30pm dinner party that would not touch a morsel of food it seemed, till close to 10pm.

I gathered the strength….and whimpered to the host taking our reservation details: ‘ What time to you open on Saturday night’

The response…’ We don’ t close…we open in the morning and close at midnight’

My brain slowly processed this concept…So to get a 6.30pm booking on Saturday night we really should have placed our names on the list at 3pm that afternoon…Interesting…I would not thought of that….

But the looks on A, S and B’s face said it all…we were in it for the long haul…If the host had said: ‘ Guys, there is a 5 hour wait, is that ok?….More than likely we would have replied ‘ No worries, we’ll just head home, take a nap and when you call us for our 11.30pn reservation we will be here!!’

For as you might have realised…Jamie’s does not take reservations…for bookings under 6 people any way….This was a slight setback, the concept of 10pm dining… but all four of us regrouped and took to the streets, to a nearby watering hold that came the highest recommendations ( You will feel like you are in Melbourne!!)

Stitch Bar on York street…Wow Wee….I do love thee…A cute little basement bar, with a wonderful array of cocktail….So wonderful that my posse helped themselves to three each over the next 2 ½ hours….My fear that the night would not so much be about the food, it would seem, was to become a reality….the cocktail I chose to kick start the night ‘ Elegantly wasted’…I will say no more…It was there and then that the dining experience looked set to take a back seat….

But what was that I heard…the sound of a phone ringing….It was Jamie…He was ready for us….Saving us from certain death by liquid dinner….we took off in the direction of dinner….

Jamie’s Italian…Wow Wee….I do love thee… We were seated upstairs, on the mezzanine level, which enabled us to take in sweeping views of the kitchen, the chefs and the controlled chaos as they pumped out dish after dish, military style…it enabled us to spy on all the other restaurant patrons, but with the clock fast approaching 10pm, our eyes were firmly planted on the menu.

Fast talking, and super enthusiastic Sebastian, was our waiter…I was almost overwhelmed by this guys passion for his job, that I found it difficult to focus on the array of dishes on offer….But as luck would have it, a colleague from my office job, had printed off the menu and scribed down words of advise, wisdom on just about every dish….So really the job was already done for me!!

Sebastian thought this was rather  amusing …here was a group of people who had researched there dinner date….Hilarity aside, we got down to business and ordered…and before you could say, ‘ Wow, it is 10.05pm’ our dinner had hit the table!!!

Pictures tell a story….so I will let the three pictures I managed to take do just that…..I realised in hind sight that I should have taken more, this was after all, meant to be a review….But I think back to the time spent at Stitch bar and the cocktail ‘ Elegantly Wasted’….enough said.

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The food was fresh, flavoursome and at times inspiring in terms of the combination of texture and taste.

All dished looked authentic to the style of Mr Oliver…they were not pretentious….they were simple good quality dishes served with passion and love.

The restaurant layout, décor and design complemented the cuisine perfectly…Throughout the meal, as I gazed around, I was often had to pinch myself that I was still in Sydney…the buzz inside was suggestive of New York, Berlin, Paris, London….as a result I feel in love with the place just that little bit more….

Was it the best meal I have ever had? Was it worth the long wait?

I am yet to make up my mind.

Will I go back for second.

Yes I will, but I might try a mid week lunch…or mid week dinner

At the conclusion of the evening, B and I made up a rating scale, scribbling over the menu with a pen supplied by Sebastian, rating the dished we had tried. I will share it with you, the reader, for I think it will help you to decide whether you will embark on this food odyssey, a dining experience, which at its very heart, remain true Mr Oliver’s mission : love, passion and verve for food, family and life.

Rating Scale

* Not worth 3 hour wait

* * Consider waiting 3 hours

* * * Amazing, worth 3 hour wait

PASTA Reveiws

Prawn Linguine * * *

Truffle Risotto * *

Buffalo Ricotta Raviolo * * *

MAIN Reviews

Tuscan Wild Boar Sausages * * *

Veal Saltimbocca * *


Tiramisu *

Italian Bakewell Tart * * *

Affogato * * *

WAITER review

Sebastian * * * * ( in a category all of his own!!)

Friendship Fire Starter: Dinner Date

08 Mar 2012 Leave a comment

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

And this weeks ode is about two of my favourite things in life….Eating and Friendship…Put the two together and you get a dinner date..

This weekend I am planning on dining out with one of my most treasured friends…half of a twin combo….that I was fortunate enough to befriended at 10 years of age…How could I have been so lucky?…to have not one but two best friends…Someone was smiling down on me when the Lee twins moved to the sleepy South Coast town in NSW many moons ago…

So I have mentioned the friend and now for the eating part.

I cannot remember a time in my life when food or the art of eating was not at the forefront of my mind….Not only have I always loved to eat…But I have loved to cook, to bake…As a 10-year-old I used to play ‘cafes’, turning the family kitchen into a commercial business, making menus and insisting my parents and brother sit down at the dining table and order breakfast items of the order board. My Dad would roll his eyes as I prepared his cereal bowl of corn flakes with muesli….My brother would complain at the time taken to perfect bacon and eggs….But I could not have been happier…

At age 12 I took to holding cake stores street side, selling  cupcakes, slices and biscuits to just about anyone who would part with cash for my humble homemade treats….At age 16, with both Lee twins in tow and one other recruit, the delightful KS, I turned an idea of running a monthly restaurant in a community centre into a reality……Yes, eating, dining out, call it what you want…My love affair with food has stood the test of time.

And it is with must anticipation that this weekend I will ascend onto the newly established restaurant in Sydney’s CBD: Jamie’s Italian….I could, as the song inserted below implies, not be any more excited!!

Jamie Oliver…I am a fan, a groupie….call me what you like….I admire you whole heartedly.

But if I am honest, and this is a quality I want to live by, I was not always a fan…I truely thought of you as just another celebrity chef….But all that changed for me when you launched your Ministry of Food campaign in 2008…then I really started taking notice….Your passion, belief and determination to get everyday people to change bad eating habbits….suggesting change in ways that were both simple and managable…Yes, you won me over.

And then I took time to go back and look and all the other wonderful things you had done thorughout your cooking career…. and my admiration for you just grew and grew and grew…

So it is true to say that I can’t wait to dine with fabulous friends at your Sydney restaurant this coming weekend….Fabulous friends and one of life’s great pleasure, food ( and a couple of glasses of wine)

Next week I will follow up with a review of the dining experience….I will do my best to capture the essence of the restaurant, the flavours of the food, the wine…and of course relay some of the quality conversation that is bound to flow.

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