Originally, the plan was to head to Rottnest for a Moss Wood wine dinner as part of Rottnest Lodge’s wine dinner series but, as fate would have it, the weather stopped us in our tracks.
With an adventurous budget and a fire in our bellies, the most sensible thing to do was score a reservation at one of Perth’s most renowned fine dining establishments.
Despite the rough weather and quiet streets, Perth bars and restaurants were alive and pumping behind closed doors and Beaufort Street was no different.
Jackson’s is the brainchild of Englishman Neal Jackson and is close to the trendy bars of Mount Lawley/Highgate like Clarence’s and Must.
Although we were left waiting at the door looking awkward as we waited to be seated, a smiling and apologetic staff member glided towards us and you couldn’t help but feel at ease.
The main thing that I noticed about Jackson’s, apart from the wonderful ambience and sophisticated, moody design, was that you never felt like you were in a high-end, snobby, fine-dining restaurant. The staff members were friendly, although sometimes a little too casual, and you didn’t feel uncomfortable asking questions about the food or wine. For those just becoming interested in the fine dining scene, it’s a good place to start the journey.
We opted for the degustation with wine pairing, starting off our dining experience with a glass of sparkling rose.
It wasn’t long after finishing our drinks that a complimentary entree was offered, and we were left wanting more.
The scallops in our first course were cooked perfectly and blended well with the citrus flavours on the plate. Although the citrus was too overpowering at times, the French champagne cut through the tang and left a clean finish.
The marron, crab, chicken and mayo sandwich was a very unique dish that benefited from the truffle flavours drizzled over the dish; once you took a sip of the viognier, the truffle flavours finished and the next bite could begin afresh.
The next three courses involved the incredibly rich, delicious meats of pork, lamb and venison – a personal favourite of mine.
Each dish was cooked perfectly and the pork and lamb dishes complemented each other well as the flavours slowly built up to the venison.
The beetroot element of the venison course made the difference between a good dish and a great one, with the horseradish noodles a welcome palette cleaner from the complex flavours.
Although I didn’t order the cheese course due to nearly bursting from my full stomach, the men on the table decided to give it a go. Between mouthfuls of an apple and bacon strudel, I was told it was very different but “f-cking awesome”.
I always look forward to the desserts in degustations; mainly because they’re always fantastic, but also because there’s no other way to finish a meal than with a kickass dessert.
To my delight, a thin chocolate brownie with edible gold foil was placed in front of me surrounded by coconut soil, raspberry coulis, milk chocolate gel and lavender ice cream.
It’s easy to scoff at lavender ice cream, but when it’s used the way that Jackson’s did with the incredibly intense chocolate brownie and tart raspberry coulis, it allowed it to come into a world of its own. The sparkling sweet red that was paired with the course was unusual for a dessert wine but could have easily been one of the best inclusions in the menu.
After the restaurant cleared out and our voices only became louder and louder after a few glasses of vino and a final coffee, the staff never made us feel unwelcome; as always, we were the last ones left after midnight.
Best dish: Marron, crab, chicken and mayo sandwich, truffle, asparagus
Best wine: CassioDorus Amarone Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Margaret River
Although it was on the sweeter side of cabernet sauvignon, when paired with the pork belly the wine really opened up and enhanced the flavours of the pork.
Jamon Iberico, seared scallops and blood orange
V. Testulat Carte d’Or Brut NV, Epernay, France
Marron, crab, chicken and mayo sandwich, truffle, asparagus
Whicher Ridge Viognier 2009, Geographe Bay, WA
Roast pork belly, black pudding, scotch quail egg, sprouts
CassioDorus Amarone Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Margaret River
Amelia Park lamb rump and belly, white bean, parsley gravy
Domaine du Espiers 2010, Cotes du Rhone, France
Venison loin, horseradish noodle, beetroot, bitter chocolate
Morgante Nero D’Avola 2010, Vendemmia, Sicily, Italy
Optional cheese course
Camembert, apple and bacon strudel, waldorf salad
Le Pere Jules Cidre, Normandy, France
Chocolate and lavender
Trentham Estate Maestri Frizzante 2012, Trentham Cliffs, NSW