Sunday, June 19, 2011
The Jackson Plan: British Gastrobar at Duxton Hill
The Jackson Plan. What is the Jackson Plan?
Perhaps only hardcore history buffs will know Lieutenant Philip Jackson, the English surveyor who drew up one of Singapore's earliest urban town plans. The Jackson Plan of 1822, or The Plan of the Town of Singapore gave us the Chinese Kampung (Chinatown), Kampung Chulia (Little India), Kampung Glam (the Malay enclave) and the Eurasian quarter.
Well, this Jackson Plan is indeed named after him and his effort. It's a British gastrobar at Duxton Hill that wants to bring back the flavours of Singapore's colonial past - featuring old English dishes with Asian ingredients that traveled the East Indian spice trade route to Britain.
Interestingly, it's taken an Italian to make this happen. But Beppe DeVito, who also owns Il Lido and Forlino, is more than well-known in the F&B industry. DeVito lived in London before moving to Singapore, and had always wanted to blend experiences from both countries.
Irish barman John Kernan who heads up the drinks and restaurant operations will also see to it that guests are well-served. The wait staff are friendly with no pretensions. I was also heartened to note that they are pretty knowledgeable about the dishes and drinks.
The restaurant is appropriately ensconced in a heritage shophouse. The feel is a mix of industrial and old school, with vintage furniture and floor tiles sourced from auctions in the UK.
I love the mish mash of eclectic chairs and tables. There are thoughtful touches like side stools for handbags (they have that too at Forlino). The floral vintage tiles also remind me of Peranakan tiles.
But the real star is the food. Oh how we loved almost every single dish, and every element within those dishes! I'd brought hubby along for the food tasting. We have famously opposing taste-buds and yet both of us liked the food there. That does not happen very often!
Some drinks to start with....we were recommended the Pimms No.1 Cup (S$10.50 by the glass; S$39.50 by the pitcher) and it was indeed delightfullly refreshing. Other cocktails include Queen's Cup, East India Punch and Jackson Punch. The Coolie's Cup sounds like quite a mix - rum and absinthe, fresh calamansi and mint, with gula melaka and cinnamon.
In addition to wines, ciders and perry, they also offer vintage ales and beers (Oxford Gold Organic, Marstons Old Empire, Ringwood Old Thumper and Suffolk Strong Vintage Ale.
Potted Smoked Mackerel, Rye Toast (S$12.50) is one of their signature starters. It's beautifully smooth and light in texture. It wasn't too fishy for me, but if you find it too strong, the wedge of lemon helps. There's enough of the creamy paste for a generous spread on the crisp rye toast.
Crab Cakes, Quail Eggs, Anchovy Cream (S$16.50). Mini little patties of warm comfort. The crab cakes are so tender, they almost melt in your mouth after you crunch through the breaded exterior. The runny quail eggs sunny side up just amplify the comfort factor.
Scotch Duck Egg, Pea Salad (S$13.50). This is their spin on the usual scotch eggs. Instead of sausage meat encasing the egg, it's duck confit! Nice. Boiled egg fanatics will note that there is no gray ring around the yolk. I even liked the dressing on the pea salad.
Real Chips (S$6.50) on the side - twice-fried but still tender inside.
From the mains, I chose the Scallops, Black Pudding, Smoked Cheese (S$28). This was our first time tasting black pudding and we were surprised at how pleasant it was. A little on the sweetish side, gently chewy and crumbly, with no funny taste. If you don't yet know how it's made, good! Eat it first. Then find out.
The fresh scallops were blanketed by the delicious melted smoked cheese, and were perched atop some amazingly tasty mashed potato (next time I'm ordering extra mashed potatoes as a side).
Home Baked Beans (S$5), another side they recommended. Most of us have only ever had baked beans out of a can, not freshly homemade. The tinned ones tend to be rather sweet. So this one took some getting used to (it had more of a sourish hint to it), but it grew on us, and at the end, we were not sure we could ever eat beans out of a can again.
Beef Shin, Bone Marrow, Potato Cakes (S$25.50). They warned us that the beef shin tends towards leanness and could be a bit tough, but we didn't find it so. It was like a really nice stew. It was not fatty but the meat was tender and so deeply infused with flavour. I also liked the potato cakes - better than any pancakes I've ever had.
Farquhar Mess, Mango and Gula Melaka (S$11.50). This is their take on the Eton mess, and is a cheeky reference to the haphazard town-planning situation Jackson inherited from the former governor William Farquhar. It's more of a fun dessert, with lots of whipped cream, pieces of meringue and gula-melaka coated mango slices at the bottom.
Eccles Cakes, and a most potent rum and raisin ice cream (S$9.50). There's more rum in this than cream! The "cake" is like a caramelised raisin pastry. A little too sweet and dry on its own, but when paired with the ice cream, it was just nice.
The Jackson Plan is a nice place to chill out with friends. There is a bright yellow-themed bar section as well as a breezy patio for al fresco dining and drinking. We truly enjoyed dinner there and are making plans to come back.
Many thanks to Christine Yee who invited us, Beppe DeVito, John Kernan and Christopher Dougan for the opportunity to discover The Jackson Plan. It was lovely meeting all of you.
THE JACKSON PLAN
40 Duxton Hill
Tel: +65 6866 1988
Mon - Thurs: 11.30 am - 12.00 am
Fri: 11.30 am - 1.00 am
Sat: 3.00 pm - 1.00 am
Posted 11:54 PM