[Invited Tasting & Revisit] Jamie's Italian, Forum the Shopping Mall

Of all the TV chefs, Jamie Oliver ranks quite low in my favourites list. He's telegenic for sure, and I can totally see how that charmingly crooked grin and adorably slight lisp makes him so endearing to females of all ages. But, I've never really liked his amateur-ish style of homecooking, or how he adds cilantro and parsley to just about everything, like a cure-all panadol to every ache or sneeze. To me, he's akin to Rachael Ray, except that he's English, marginally taller, and has an actual neck. (I'm not saying he's a terrible chef, but when I watch cooking instructionals, I'd like to be able to learn from an actual professional...like the always awesome Anne Burrell, or the inimitable Heston Blumenthal)

I wasn't too keen on visiting Jamie's Italian when the celebrity chef opened his first outlet in Singapore at Vivocity, especially in light of the lukewarm reviews. But I was urged to give it a chance when invited by the good people of FoodNews PR to sample his wares at Jamie's second outpost, at Forum Galleria.

Having visited the casual bistro twice (once at the invited tasting and the second at my S.O.P. revisit), I'm convinced my initial reservations about his cooking hold true. With the exception of the pizzas, which passed muster, the rest of our samplings were clumsy and unpolished. Suffice it to say, I was plainly unimpressed. There are dozens of Italian restaurants in Singapore more worthwhile than Jamie's Italian.

We started off the tasting with a lovely Cauliflower Fritti sided by an arrabbiata sauce and sprinkle of grated parmesan. Addictively delicious and possibly the best appetizer of the lot.

At the revisit, I requested they hold off the parsley in the Cauliflower Fritti ($13.50). This was very good, a beautifully golden crust batter and juicy minced cauliflower balls.

At the tasting, the Cured Meat Plank ($16.50 menu price) laden with San Daniele prosciutto, pistachio mortadella, bresaola, hot soppressata, pickled vegetables, and a burratina, was middling. Skip this, I've had much better charcuterie elsewhere.

At the tasting, the highlight of the Octopus & Mussel Spaghetti ($17 menu price) was that caper-ed chili white wine sauce, subtly sweetened with seafood broth. That said, the seafood was overcooked while the squid ink pasta was overdone.

Ditto for the Prawn Linguine ($18) at the revisit. The sauce, redolent of garlic, shaved fennel, tomatoes, and chilli, was decent enough, and so were the properly cooked fresh prawns, BUT, the pasta was disappointingly overcooked.

The Grilled Pork Chop ($38 menu price), with apple, kohirabi, lemon, and crackling, looked promising at the tasting, but turned out a dud. Cooked under a brick, this was well marinated with bagna cauda, but wasn't given time to rest, so the juices leached out upon carving.

The Pizza Funghi topped with roasted mushrooms, charred onion, thyme, smoked mozzarella, was the first commendable main at the tasting. Chewy crust with a thickness just right and generous with its toppings, I can totally understand why many opt to take away their pizzas.

At the revisit, my friend also commented that the pizzas here are much better than their middling pastas. He liked the contrast of the earthy mushrooms with the richness of the white sauce of the Pizza Funghi ($23.50).

Another worthwhile option here is the Pizza Hot Italian ($24.50 menu price) layered with scrumptious spicy meatballs, salami, mozzarella and chillis.

The Epic Brownie, with amaretto ice-cream and caramelised popcorn, was more homestyled simplicity than of epic proportions.

We had the Epic Brownie ($12.50) at the revisit as well, and got the same feedback from my dining companion, nice but certainly not "epic" as asserted, even if it was very nicely fudgy.

Jamie's Italian
583 Orchard Road
Forum the Shopping Mall #01-01
Tel: 6655 7676
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 10am to 10pm;
Fridays & Saturdays from 10am to 11pm
Website: www.jamieoliver.com

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