Jacksons (The Farewell)

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Jacksons Restaurant has been a true favourite of the Perth dining scene, quality dishes, quirky tastes and a lovely atmosphere. It has been a fixture for our family dinners in years gone by, we have loved the old Dego menus (short for degustation – that’s how we roll in WA); thoughts of love shared over extended courses of wine and food. However as it is with the world, this change and Jacksons moved away from the Dego menu a few months ago – which caused some great sadness for me.

Now after 48 years of plating up top meals for peeps across the globe, owner, Neal Jackson is hanging up the pan. I found out in Late November 2013, he is selling Jacksons and retiring. Things will never be the same.

Here’s a bit of a background about Neal for those who have not experienced his amazing culinary skills. Neal Jackson was born in Nottingham (UK) and started as a young apprentice at the Savoy Hotel (London). Neal then moved onto the Caprice Restaurant in London before moving to Australia. After working at a few regional WA restaurants he opened Jackson’s in 1998.

So I managed to book a final dinner at Jacksons under Neal’s stewardship. I was a sad, I dressed for the occasion and we made the trek through the city to the beautiful restaurant in Mt Lawley. It was a sad moment for us all, time changes everything but something’s are just timeless.

We get there nice and early. Our family always has interesting conversations which span the plight of U.S. automotive (car) makers, unconventional oil industry and our latest travel plans.

We have a lovely selection of house made bread rolls, sourdough, lavosh and cheese sticks to start. This is paired with organic extra virgin frantoio olive oil from Cherith Grove in a lovely town called Gidgeganup. We also enjoy some amazing cornets of ocean trout with crème and roe.

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We then move onto the starters. We reflect on and give thanks for the true reason for the season, before tucking into Neal’s culinary creations.

I opt for the Venison tartare, kimchi, beetroot & chicharrones which I pair with a bottle of Chianti. The amazing gamey venison meat with the sweetness of the beetroot and crispiness and salt of the chicharrones provides the sort of texture and divine flavours that would expect from Jacksons. I am blown away, completely happy – can the pinnacle of culinary happiness be any higher. Well it can be – I pair with a Chianti (Isole e Olena Chianti Classico –2008) which takes the dish to another level. This is the start of a wonderful finale. The chianti is amazing, easy to drink, full of dark fruit flavours (cranberry, cherry and plum) flavours, crisp minerality and a smoky finish on the tongue. It’s an amazing bottle.

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My family opt for the following dishes – which they all report are wonderful. A bottle of Neagles Rock Riesling 2010 (from Clare Valley) is there to compliment the softer dishes.

Risotto of celery, apple, grapes, walnuts & goats curd

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Hazelnut crust barramundi, charred watermelon, geranium butter sauce

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Scallop in bacon, black pudding & apple croquette, broad beans

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The mains arrive, I have the Dry aged Angus sirloin steak, potato crisps, onion, and Roquefort sauce. I stick with the Chianti for this a beautiful dish.

The sirloin, the soft Roquefort sauce, the melt in your mouth onions and crispy potato crisps tick the box when it comes to textures. I am lost for words. The juicy and succulent sirloin which just falls apart on the slice of the knife is an item of wonder. I slouch back on my chair going between the sirloin and the Chianti to wash it down. It’s a divine experience. The onions are perfectly cooked and while the crisps provide a crunchy potato flavour to the dish and soften as the juices from the sirloin interact with them.

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My family make the following wonderful choices for their mains

Duck breast & leg, hoi sin dumpling, beansprout rice, mandarin sauce (mum tucked into the Duck before I could take a photo 🙁 )

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Snapper baked in potato, asparagus, celery, artichoke veloute

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Desserts are the go at Jacksons, I have the Banana choc chip soufflé, passionfruit sauce, mango ice cream. This dish is beautiful, the soft creamy banana mixed with fluffy egg whites with the crispy crust of the soufflé embrace my tongue. The large choc chips release bursts of the sweet cocoa sensation to add that kick to the soufflé – it’s amazing.

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The rest of the table go for (and they have such impeccable taste – which is where my love of food comes from)

Chocolate pannacotta, salted caramel ice cream & peanut butter gel

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Baked vanilla custard tart, lemon curd ice cream, blueberries & meringue

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We share some petit fours and we have a drink to finish – this has been a lovely experience.

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As I leave, a sadness falls over me. This is such a beautiful restaurant… it’s sad to see it go. But as I reflect on my wonderful family who have shared this experience with me and I realise how lucky I am.

Jacksons was there for a season, I am so blessed, so I don’t feel sad. There have been plenty of fond memories which I will treasure – with food, it’s always about the memories.

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