It’s no secret that the world simply can’t get enough of Jamie Oliver, and when the doors of Jamie’s Italian first opened on King William Street in 2014—it truly felt like a foodie’s Christmas. Since then, Adelaidians have had the pleasure of trying a series of Jamie’s latest and greatest recipes. What’s most impressive about Jamie’s style is that despite his long-running history in the kitchen, he’s continually inspiring keen gastronomists by utilising ingredients in ways that most of us would deem scandalous.
This time round, we were lucky enough to dine between the historic walls of the old Westpac bank to indulge in a 7-course feast of vegetables. That’s right—every meal was 100% meat-free. But this detail almost seemed irrelevant as we experienced diverse flavours and textures that achieved a certain freshness and feel-good effect that is unparalleled by heavy traditional meat-based dishes. Titled WE LOVE VEG, the limited-edition menu derives from Jamie’s most recent cook book. It’s all about celebrating the goodness of our greens and fresh veg, which is showcased in a selection of hot house-favourites and light flavoursome salads that cater to all kinds of dietary restrictions. Now, let’s get into the details!
First up were the three starter dishes—Angry Beans; Fennel, Melon & Mozzarella Salad; and the Grape & Radicchio Salad. Each contained a different variety of cheese which added a nice creaminess to contrast the crunchiness of the veg. The Angry Beans were certainly a favourite, drizzled with a warm arrabiatta and paired with bocconcini and fresh basil. They’re the kind of flavours you simply can’t look past on an Italian menu. We were also intrigued by the bitter-sweetness of the Grape and Radicchio dish; two commonly used ingredients in Italy that are completely opposed in flavour.
After warming up the palate, we got stuck into the four main dishes—Gnocchi Pesto, Mushroom Rigatoni, Roast Tomato Risotto, and the Squashed Cauliflower Cherry Salad. All of these dishes were conversation-starters in their own ways, but it was the Gnocchi Pesto that really captured our hearts. There’s something about the gourmet balance of fluffy potato dumplings with leafy pesto that really speaks to the soul. And the added crunch of toasted walnuts made for a welcome way to experience the Jamie twist. A close second had to be the creamy Roast Tomato Risotto, which was so full of rich tomato flavour and buttery cheesiness that one spoon just wasn’t enough (nor was five).
The mixed Mushroom Rigatoni also boasted a sumptuous tomato sauce that kept our forks creeping back for more. And what more needs to be said about a traditional pasta dish re-mastered by a world-renowned chef? For a different experience all together, the Squashed Cauliflower Cherry Salad was a weird and wonderful way to meet Jamie’s more experimental side. The dish incorporated black rice, preserved lemon, yoghurt, cherries, mint and toasted pine nuts to create something unfamiliar, but exciting nonetheless.
To finish off the WE LOVE VEG menu, we tried the Buckwheat Pancakes for dessert. The textural grain created an interesting consistency that made it feel somewhere between a sweet and savoury dish. Regardless, the orange, strawberry compote, creamy yoghurt and toasted hazelnuts made for a delicious, guilt-free treat that is perfectly fit for Spring. Oh—and while we were there, we couldn’t go past one of the regular residents on the menu: The Epic Brownie. It’s a sweet and salty decadent delight covered in ice cream, caramel popcorn, and the kind of rich chocolate sauce that most of us have dreamt of diving into once or twice.
Make sure you get down to Jamie’s Italian before September 30th to see what all the fuss is about!
Word by Kimberley Goodman
WHERE: 2 King William St, Adelaide