A few weeks ago I went out for lunch at Jamie's new restaurant in the city with a few of my friends. We'd been talking about doing it since it opened a few months ago, but trying to get a table booked any earlier than November made us think that maybe it wasn't going to happen anytime soon (I'd also heard about the 2-3 hour wait to get a table if you didn't book). On a whim we decided to risk it one extremely cold and rainy mid-week day, and to our surprise got in straight away!
The place is as awesome as I thought it would be, with signature 'Jamie-isms' everywhere you look. From the huge pasta machines that greet you at the door, to the little bread stations dotted throughout the place where (very attentive) waiters cut fresh bread for every table to nibble on as you ponder over the menu. We ordered a vegetable 'plank' to start and pretty soon after, our waiter arrived with a couple of old tins of whole-peeled tomatoes. What? A little bit later we realised what they were for as the plank was placed resting between the tins, giving us all easy access to the goodies that graced the top of the plank.
Eating out for someone like me is never overly easy. Being vegetarian is no worries. Gone are the days when bean nachos are the only thing on offer for us. Gluten-free and dairy-free? Well, we're getting there. But combine all three and things get a little trickier. For me something has to give at times like this. I'm not going to start eating meat just because I'm eating out and the side-effects of eating gluten for me is just not worth it. But with dairy, thankfully I can eat a little bit of that on occasion without too much drama. So I ate the best (truffle) risotto of my life (no joke) and finished it off with an incredibly rich chocolate pot smeared with whipped cream. All amazing yes, but it was an unassuming little root vegetable salad from the plank that I couldn't stop thinking about well after we'd left to return home, and for the weeks since.
Jamie and I both share a love for all things fresh... and hot. Lemon, mint and chilli featured heavily in the salad along with lashings of good olive oil. I loved it so much I had to ask the others if I could finish off the bowl once they'd each had a little bit! I would have been happy if I left after only eating that.
Raw beetroot and carrot salad is something I make and eat a lot and I'm often adding mint and chilli to everything, but the addition of celeriac? Genius. I'm thinking a good few of you may not have eaten celeriac before (I know it's not the easiest thing to come across in NZ especially, unless you grow it yourself). I love the stuff and if you get your hands on some, use it. The texture's similar to the carrot and beetroot but it tastes of mellow celery. It's often used in salads where a mayonnaise-based dressing is used (which is also nice), but I much prefer this simple lemon/olive oil dressing instead.
I don't often miss working in the industry, but I'd be lying if I said that eating at Jamie's didn't make me want to apply for a job on the spot and work there! What a cool place. I know I'll be back.
Have you eaten at any of Jamie's restaurants before? I'm feeling nosey... got any favourite dishes to rave about too?
celeriac + beet salad with lemon, chilli + mint
If you can't get your hands on celeriac, just use extra carrot or beetroot. Turnip, swede or kohlrabi would also be interesting substitutes. They would give a similar colour and texture but completely different flavour. I went for 2 whole birds eye chillies, I love chilli and this was nearly too much for me. If you don't like too much chilli just add a little bit to taste, or remove the seeds before finely chopping to lessen the blow. I happily ate this entire salad myself for lunch, but if you aren't as greedy as me it would serve 2 or even more as a side.
1 large carrot, peeled
1 medium beetroot, ends trimmed and peeled
1/2 large celeriac, ends trimmed and peeled
a large handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1-2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped
the juice of 1 medium lemon
a few good glugs of extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely shred the carrot, beetroot and celeriac either using a mandolin, grater or your food processor. Combine in a bowl (leave the beetroot out until the end if you don't want it to completely colour everything with it's juices), add mint and chilli and mix well to combine. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Season really well with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
Inspired by a 'crunchy salad' eaten at Jamie's Italian, Perth.