I’m a regular traveller to Perth. I was born in Perth and most of my family, and many of my friends, still live there. Gladly I also found a job that takes me back about once a month. There is a phenomenon in Perth which I’m sure has a name, but let’s call it “we-need-to-fill-up-new-places-for-six-months”. Post overcrowding for six months the novelty wears off and the honeymoon is over. It is a fickle place to own a restaurant. When I was younger and starting to love food and wine the [as close as possible to] institutional restaurants were Alto’s (gone), Star Anise (gone), Jackson’s (thankfully still around), and gladly we were starting to see through some of the places on the water that served up mediocrity. The phenomenon is, from afar, beginning to fade. There are tens of exciting newcomers, but more and more the “new places” are finding a comfortable place in being “old”. Greenhouse and Andaluz are a couple of examples of places that have now “been around”. I’m not sure about all of the new places, many of which are recreations or copies of Eastern States originals, but Jamie’s Italian is definitely good. It seems to me that it is purposely looking to provide reasonably priced Italian to the masses while setting some trends in a local sense that are more thematic in Melbourne and Sydney. Unfortunately, the no (limited in this case) bookings policy is one of those themes. I think, sorry, I know, that anyone who complains about having to wait for a table, should not be coming here without a booking. If they, despite their affliction for waiting, need to try Jamie’s, they need to get here ridiculous early. I go to breakfast at 1pm regularly. For Jamie’s you need to take that extreme to lunch and make it dinner!
If you are prepared to wait, you do eventually get in. I have been about 6 months ago so I knew the deal. We put our names down at 6pm and the wait was “2 hours”, no they corrected “2.5 hours”. We ate somewhere else that Saturday night and got the call on the way home at 8.30pm (that 3 hour time zone difference is pretty horrific so we were eating early!) Then on the following Sunday night we were ready. We’d watched the Eagles smash Melbourne and felt like a couple of drinks so we were prepared to wait. We got there at 5pm. We got in at 6.30pm. If you know about the wait, you also know that the reason you go to Jamie’s is for freshly made pasta. Our group obliged after sharing some completely fine breads and grissini. My linguine with prawns (“garlicky Spencer Gulf per menu”), tomatoes, chilli, rocket and fennel was good. The pasta was perfect and that’s what I came for. The prawns were a bonus, much juicier than your average Italian joint. The other components are tried and tested as a combination. Catherine’s special was linguine with Atlantic salmon. It was fresher and punchier than my classic combination. I had a little menu envy. For dessert we shared a rich chocolate brownie with amaretto ice-cream and caramelised popcorn. It was a nice way to finish and was definitely best shared. As we finished we saw some friends who had unfortunately not ordered pasta at all and were left a bit disappointed. I’m not reviewing on their behalf, but it reiterated that you need to order smartly when you have a place that is crazily busy with a diverse menu. Our waitperson had solid capabilities without any flair, which is fine. My impression looking around was that you need to have the energy of a uni student to keep up with the demands of the restaurant. Keep service expectations low in other words. I’ve used Jamie’s as the opening of my Perth reviews for my latest trip on purpose. There are a lot of great elements both at Jamie’s and in Perth, and they are ripe to be built on.
Jamie’s Italian Post Script
Mum wanted to go to Jamie’s for Mother’s Day and who was I to say no! We again enjoyed our pastas, this time I had a vongole tagliolini. Again, I just love how the pastas are homemade, the ingredients fresh, and simplicity is the focus. We also tried to the crab and avocado bruschetta to start and that was nice. I think the deal Jamie’s gets on seafood must be amazing because it is always high quality.