Thursday, 20 February 2014

Taste Test - Jackson's Restaurant

Happy belated Valentine's Day! You might have noticed that hubby hasn't featured in my blog posts recently, that's because he has started FIFO again and that he wasn't here for Valentine's Day (not that we usually celebrate) but it was a good excuse to go out for a nice dinner.

Jackson's Restaurant introduced Western Australia to degustation in 1998 when it was first established by chef Neal Jackson who is hanging up his apron in April this year. In September 2013, they ditched their degustation menu for an a-la-carte menu but it didn't seem to be well received and from January 2014 they resurrected their degustation menu. The five course degustation menu is $111 per person and if you want to enhance your experience with wine matching, add an extra $69 per person.

This was actually my first time at Jackson's Restaurant, hard to believe but it has been one of those restaurants where I had mixed feelings about whether I wanted to try it or not because I received mixed reviews from friends who have been. Their reviews ranged from it's the best restaurant ever to it was pretty ordinary and some of the dishes didn't work and it was a very long dinner. Well, finally I decided to judge it myself.

Unfortunately our experience didn't have a good start because when we entered the restaurant at 6pm, there was no one in the restaurant and I'm not talking about patrons, there were no staff to greet us. We waited a good 3-5 minutes with us calling out some 'hellooos' before the maitre d' came out to greet and seat us.

The menu was already on the table and the maitre d' asked us whether we had any special dietary requirements and asked if we wanted still or sparkling water before she tootled off so we could decide on our drinks. As it was a school night and also because both hubby and I are not big drinkers, we opted not to go for the wine matching and I just ordered a glass of wine.

Our menu
Drunken Chicken & Prawn with Cucumber Noodle Salad (Chicken and king prawns poached in Shaoxing rice wine, chilled served with cucumber noodles mixed with Chinese vegetable salad finished with toasted sesame and wolfberries)
Roast Pork Belly, Black Pudding & Seared Scallop (Pork belly and scallops with a star anise green apple puree topped with a hoisin and a hoisin and honey pork gravy, finished with black pudding crumble)
Ocean Trout Confit, Rabbit Sauce & Mushy Peas (Macquarie Tasmanian ocean trout cooked sous vide, served with crushed minted peas, finished with a red and white wine braised rabbit sauce)
Roasted Beef Fillet, Braised Beef Cheek, Jacko's Oyster Sauce, Truffle Potato Mash & Beans (Amelia Park beef fillet and braised beef cheek topped with beef oyster sauce, a decadent truffle potato mash and gremolata coated green beans)
Passion Fruit & Banana Cream Pie with Peanut Butter and Chocolater Crispies (Passion fruit curd pie topped with banana cream, garnished with caramelised banana with homemade coco-pops set in peanut butter and rich dark chocolate)
Coffee/Tea & Raspberry Shortbread

We were brought a bread basket once we ordered our drinks with some olive oil and home made salted butter. We were not told what breads we were served but it was delicious and warm.
Complimentary bread
Food and presentation - 4/5
I went to Jackson's with no expectations because I've had fairly mixed reviews so it was great that the food served was pretty impressive. The amuse bouche which was complimentary was a spoonful of orange with anchovies and herbs, it was very interesting and I didn't mind it but I wouldn't say that I love it either. The orange was not very sweet and the anchovies just added that saltiness to it, the herbs were not very overpowering and it somehow just worked eventhough I had other thoughts running through my head when I saw it.
Complimentary amuse bouche - orange with anchovies

The drunken chicken was awesome and tasted nearly as good as if it was from a good quality Shanghainese restaurant, there was just enough alcohol to make it drunk without the hangover. The prawns were cooked to perfection and the cucumber noodle salad completed the dish. The vegetables with the chilli and coriander was fantastic and reminded me of the Chinese pickled salad with chicken that my dad used to make (which was awesome!).
Drunken Chicken & Prawn with Cucumber Noodle Salad
The crackling on my roast pork belly was not crispy but hubby's was; boo for me. The texture of the scallop was a bit weird and it didn't have that sweet taste that fresh scallops have which was a shame. There wasn't much black pudding (which is fine by me as I'm not a massive fan) but there was enough to give that extra flavour to the dish, overall it was a nice dish.
Roast Pork Belly, Black Pudding & Seared Scallop

The ocean trout confit was perfectly cooked but I found the mushy peas a bit sweet. The rabbit sauce however was beautiful.
Ocean Trout Confit, Rabbit Sauce & Mushy Peas

The beef was perfectly cooked and overall the dish was very tasty but it wasn't anything special.
Roasted Beef Fillet, Braised Beef Cheek, Jacko's Oyster Sauce, Truffle Potato Mash & Beans

Dessert was nice but the pie base was a bit undercooked. The passion fruit curd and the banana cream was really yummy but the chocolate crispies were a bit sweet. The raspberry shortbread was nice with the tea which was a good quality green tea (no bitterness).
Passion Fruit & Banana Cream Pie with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispies
Raspberry Shortbread
Green Tea
Service - 3.5/5
As I mentioned before, no one came to greet us at the door and we waited a good 3-5 minutes with calling out some hellos before the maitre d' came to greet us and take us to our seat. They didn't seem to have enough wait staff so the staff were busy concentrating on bringing out dishes without provide additional services like being personal and actually looking after you properly. The staff however were professional, polite and generally friendly. The maitre d' although didn't really talk to us very much was very professional and from eaves dropping on her conversation with the couple on the next table, she knew the wines for the wine matching menu very well. Water was topped up automatically but only when our glasses were empty and if we put our glasses at the edge of the table, so they don't really check on you. The maitre d' didn't give us the option for filter water, just still or sparkling so we ended up paying quite a bit for a bottle of still water! Yes, it sounds like I'm finding something to pick on but most places do ask you still, sparkling or tap. I guess, I expected more in terms of service at a fine dining establishment.

Atmosphere and decor - 4.5/5
The decor at Jackson's was classy and sophisticated with a modern touch. We were the first table there so it was nice to be able to have the restaurant to ourselves for a short period of time. As the night progressed the restaurant became quite full and there was a nice buzz. Patrons were mostly couples with a few tables that looked like children (adults) taking their parents out for a well deserved dinner. The seating was comfortable but it would've been better if they could space out their tables a little bit more.

Value for money - 4.5/5
It's fine dining so one would expect that it would be expensive, however $111 per person for a restaurant of this calibre is actually not bad and we were happy to pay for the quality and also the quantity (even hubby was full, although he did help me eat some of my food).

Taste Test Total Score - 16.5/20

Address: 483 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003
Telephone: (08) 9328 1177
Website: http://www.jacksonsrestaurant.com.au/
Reservations: Yes

Opening times
Monday - CLOSED
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to late
Sunday - CLOSED

Jackson's Restaurant on Urbanspoon