Sydney welcomes yet another overseas celebrity chef to its shores - with mixed results.
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Jamie’s Italian has landed in Sydney and the crowds are loving it - just get a load of hour-long wait for a table. And that’s mid-week. We’d hate to see what it’s like on a Saturday night. And whether you want to get his face tattooed on your inner thigh or set fire to a pile of his 13-odd cookbooks, old Fat Lips is delivering tasty food at reasonable prices. Jamie Oliver has obviously got this restaurant chain thing down. There’s talk of plenty more of his restaurants to open in Australia, too. It’s like the march of the cane toad, only faster and far more delicious.
Aside from the crazily uncomfortable metal chairs made, seemingly, for quick get-in-and-get-out dining, and a menu strewn with vaguely nauseating menu descriptions like “all our beautiful pasta is freshly made right here every day with love” (barf), there's good stuff to be had. Avoid the "posh chips" with “insanely good truffle oil” and head straight for the Italian nachos - a pile of deep-fried cheesy ravioli with spicy tomato sauce. Cute. Or a plate of big fat Sicilian olives served over ice with sheets of Sardinian crisp-bread. Small red capsicums are filled with whipped ricotta and dressed with balsamic and olive oil and pepped up with micro beet greens. An entrée carbonara is good value at $12 and perfect for inner-city workers after a quick no-fuss lunch, but it’s let down by waterlogged and under-seasoned bucatini. On the other hand, though, it's made with proper guanciale (the cured pork jowl that makes many a great carbonara). And then there’s some very well made ice cream on the table covered in smashed house-made honeycomb, as well as thin ribbons of pineapple (they're calling it pineapple carpaccio) with a scoop of blood orange and chilli sorbet for dessert.
This restaurant is big, loud and busy. You know those restaurants you see in 90s movies where there’s always an exceedingly long wait with an uninterested maitre d’ at the other end and the music in the dimly lit, industrial-style room is always some kind of throbbing house? Well, that’s Jamie’s Italian. And that’s heaven for a lot of people. For everyone else, the new Fratelli Fresh on Bridge Street is a ten-minute walk away.