With branches in Singapore, Hong Kong and hot spots across Asia and beyond, the latest Jamie’s Italian restaurant, recently opened in Bangkok, is proof that even in a gastronomic capital there’s always room for a new eatery. Set up by English celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, outside of the UK, the eponymous Jamie’s Italian attracts expats familiar with the well-known TV chef and author.
In prime position, on the ground floor of the newly refurbished Siam Discovery – The Exploratorium, Jamie’s Italian Bangkok fits into the mall’s lifestyle concept perfectly. With big windows looking out to the city and back into the shopping area, the restaurant has a light, airy, relaxed and fun ambiance; a young, energised attitude that is very Gen Y and far from the grand opera of formal Italian fare often courted in Bangkok. Jamie’s Italian is a sit-down-and-share type of foodie affair.
Classic Italian favourites, including crispy artisan dough pizzas and freshly made pastas are served up with more than a touch of Jamie Oliver panache. This means lots of fresh, bold flavours and quality produce from organic local sources too. A highlight of the menu, visually at least, is the long plank of antipasti with cold cuts, balanced on two tins of tomatoes on the table, with a chargrilled vegetarian platter too, both served with pickles and rainbow slaw. Mains include griddled meats cooked under a brick for extra succulence and a towering prime beef burger with mortadella served with ‘funky (garlic and parsley) chips’. Add in a superfood salad or two and you have an appetising and affordable menu that appeals to those seeking a post-shop sit-down, business lunch or informal evening meal with family or friends.
Industrial-chic with touches of retro Italian tile design and vintage lamps and furniture, the open dining room features a Jamie’s Italian signature round table with chandelier above. The vibe is friendly, open and homely; easy, laid-back Sunday-style Italian. One end of the restaurant can be turned into a private party area whereas the opposite side, close to the restaurant’s open kitchen has a distinctly frenetic, Italian deli-café atmosphere compared to the main dining space. The tea towel napkins and classic butcher’s aprons worn by the waiting staff have the throwback feel of a trendy UK restaurant circa ’96 and restaurants with Edison light bulbs are far from new in Bangkok. Regardless, as with the menu, Jamie’s Italian adds a modern twist that is interesting enough to add some sparkle to the city’s already glittering dining scene.
Jamie’s Italian looks and tastes the part when it comes to all-day, modern dining. However, there is a distinct ‘theme-restaurant feel’ lurking, common with chain restaurants, that leaves a slight aftertaste for some, while for others this can be reassuring too. Whilst the flavours are strong, the tastes can begin to compete and Jamie’s Italian is best enjoyed for what it is supposed to be – a simple, yet tasty Italian serving dishes that satisfy rather than challenge today’s tastes.
Jamie’s Italian, Siam Discovery, Ground Floor, Rama 1, Pathumwan, Bangkok, +66 (0)2 2555 222, jamieoliver.com