The moment one mentions the name Jamie Oliver, a blue eyed cute blond dimpled chef’s picture comes up. His magnum opus TV show “The Naked Chef” adds to this image and millions of females around the world swoon at the mere mention of his name for entirely different reasons.
So when I announced the opening of the first restaurant by the chef on the pages of Mumbai Food Freak, the reaction was quite expected. While I was flooded with inboxed messages from people asking me if Jamie himself would be in town, others bribed me to take them as my plus one to the launch event. My good sense and preference to a longer life prevailed and I chose to finally go there with my wife and share the table with my sister only to be overshadowed by the video of Jamie running in a continuous loop over their heads the entire evening.
Located opposite the PVR Imax cinema of Phoenix Mills mall the décor of the restaurant is quite industrial with non-plastered walls with graffitis depicting scenes from Mumbai and pictures of Jamie´s creation on the other. The open kitchen bustles with activity giving the diners a closer feel of the behind the scenes activity at the restaurant. The 51 seat diner would remind you of one of those warehouse pizzerias which one finds in college areas in USA and Europe. The food therewith lives up to that image as well.
The menu has been strictly focused on Pizzas, though there are some pastas, salads and starters to add to the selection but the main focus seems to be strictly on Pizzas
We started off with the classic garlic bread which was thin and crisp, the olive tapenade which came with it was ooooh so delicious. The only downside about these crispy garlicky flatbread pieces was that the colder they got, the harder they became, so my suggestion is that if you order this dish, please try and finish it off while they are still warm.
Though I am not entirely a paneer fan, especially when it comes to Italian food, the boring sounding Paneer Pesto packed a punch and would feature in my highly recommended dish from the menu. On the other hand, the Fritto Misto or the batter fried mixed Seafood starter was a bit too oily and dense to my taste. The caper dip that it was served with was comparatively much better.
The starter lineup had its mix of hits and misses but what really stood out was the signature quirkiness with which Jamie usually creates his dishes using fresh produce and ingredients in all the dishes. Though this restaurant is a franchisee model, Alex the manager of the chain told us that Jamie gives his unique personal touch to each of the dishes that are served here; be it the orange zest flavored Tiramisu, the toasted cumin in the Watermelon and Feta salad or the delicious in-house tomato ketchup, each element at the restaurant has a quirkinessthat reflect the style he is most famous for.
The Pizza here could evoke mixed feelings from the diners as the rustic base is quite different and more similar to the Catalan Coca bread than the ones that the Indian palate is used to. The ingredients used are definitely fresh and the base sauces, flavoursome.
The desserts were definitely the highlight of our evening as the Tiramisu with its zesty orange notes and the goeey and extremely decadent brownie had us bowled over and left us wanting for more. This will be one of the biggest pull of the restaurant, I am sure, in the time to come.
The name Jamie Oliver might pique a diner’s expectation but be warned, not to go for an experience, expecting what you associate with him through what you see on TV or read in his books. The restaurant has its own unique individuality and shows flashes of Jamie’s brilliance in bits and bytes of each of its dishes. The vibe and the exuberance of the restaurant gives it a very laidback, relaxed and youthful feel, and I am sure it will appeal equally to that age group. The final verdict, of course, lies in the hands of the future diners, but I for one, am sure that I will certainly go back for my fill of that decadent brownie and oh-so-delicious Tiramisu!