• John Boccellari

THE ROYAL CARIBBEAN SERIES PART 6 - JAMIE'S ITALIAN BY JAMIE OLIVER


(PHOTO PROVIDED VIA GOOGLE)

Jamie Oliver is a world renowned chef who has owned many restaurants and had quite a few television shows. Originally known as "The Naked Chef" (his first show had the same name), he hails from Clavering, Essex, England. His style features mostly English cuisine. Personally, I have been looking to eat at one of his establishments for a very long time. When the chance came up to eat at a restaurant with his name attached to it, even on a cruise ship, my wife jumped at the chance to make the reservation.

AMBIANCE

The decor of the restaurant is fun and bright. The photos on the wall gave a fresh and old country feel to the place but the tables and chairs gave a different story. It was a mix of what seemed like really nice backyard furniture and modern style chairs. Although attractive to the eye, I felt confused as to what they were trying to be. The TV's on the wall that featured Jamie Oliver cooking was a nice touch though.

THE FOOD

The food was by far the best that the ship had to offer. These were Jamie Oliver's recipes, of course we should assume that they should be the best due to his reputation. Let's look at each dish. The Crispy Squid was perfectly tender and lightly fried. It's a nice twist on calamari, which is exactly the same thing just presented differently. The rice balls were wonderfully crispy and light. The Giant Green Olive appetizer was delicious served with black olive tapenade and crispy music bread. My wife ordered the Risotto Caprese which she did not enjoy. She said it tasted like canned sauce that was not that good. However she did love the Eggplant Parmigiana. Why would she not like one tomato entree and love the other? There could have been many different reasons why. There could have been two different cooks on both dishes who have different recipe knowledge and skill. It could be anything. Both dishes looked amazing but only one was enjoyed.

Finally we had the Spaghetti Puttanesca. I asked for one simple modification to be made to this dish, no cheese. I wanted to taste the flavors of the sauce and the anchovies accompanied by the olives to full effect. The dish came out with cheese on it. This leads us directly to service...

THE SERVICE

...Everything was great service-wise until I received my Puttanesca. When I asked the server why there was cheese on my plate, he simply replied by saying that there was not. I picked up an olive that was covered in white grated romano and asked him what was in my spoon. He responded by saying it was an olive. I asked what was on the olive. He said nothing. I then responded by saying that it is either a ton of cheese or it is mold. He took the dish back to the kitchen to get me a new one.

On his way he stopped by the front desk to get the "manager" who then came over to me to discuss the issue. I was not looking for any of this sort of attention. I just wanted the dish as I had ordered it. I was not going to make a fuss. She then began to tell me that the waiter assured her that the chef made the dish how I had asked and that there was not an issue with the dish.

This began to anger me as I felt that I was being treated as an idiot who does not know what he is talking about. This all took less then 2 minutes and then what do I see? My server coming out of the kitchen with a "new" dish. With my experience in the business, I know what he and the kitchen had done. It was a simple re-plating with a little new sauce on the top. How did I know this?

When I was given the dish, it looked like spaghetti marinara. No olives or herbs anywhere to be seen. I tasted the top, fresh sauce on old pasta. I then took my fork and spoon and dug deep to pull up the bottom. There was all of the "money" of the dish. Olives, grape tomatoes, onions, herbs all on the bottom. The picture you see above is how I fixed the presentation of the dish. I tasted it again and guess what, I had a mouth full of cheese. I asked for the server to come back. I told him to please remove the dish and that I was finished. I am not someone who appreciates being lied to, especially with my food.

The manager came back to see if I wanted something else. I said no, I will wait for my family to finish enjoying their food. I was done with it all. Then she said it again. She had to take one more moment to tell me that she had spoken with the chef and that he promised her that he made my dish to how I requested it. It's one thing to lie to me, but now to treat me like I was an idiot of some kind. I know this because I never saw her go back into the kitchen. After she spoke to me the first time, I saw her go right back to the front desk and seat people. I watch people when I go out to eat, I always want to see how they handle situations. It's how I've been since I got into this business. I get it, I may sound crazy. But please never lie to your guests. This was not a complimentary meal included with the cruise. It costs extra. We paid to be there and to not be lied to.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS

I personally don't hold Jamie Oliver or his brand at fault with my experience at his restaurant on the cruise. I am aware that this restaurant may only be his in name alone. I don't think they received the training that his staff gets in his restaurants. If they do, please look into how they are actually being trained. I am not upset because of the whole "customer is always right" mentality. It has nothing to do with that, just don't lie to your guests. I treat my guests with respect and I am always honest with them. I know they can tell and I know they appreciate it. That is why I am successful. When a guest calls you out, don't keep up the facade. Just be honest. We had a great start to the meal and then it just ended with me leaving hungry. I give Jamie's Italian a 2 out of 5 stars because you should always be honest with the guests. They could have saved the meal, they just decided not to.

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