Monday, August 28, 2006


Long-term readers will know that when it comes to eating out, my experiences tend to be less than stellar. They look at the clues, such as when I prayed for a restaurant to be smited from the earth, or when I contemplated strangling a chef, and conclude one of two things. Either I am living in a gastronomic hellhole, or I am a whiny snob who wouldn't be satisfied if Tetsuya Wakuda himself dropped by every morning with homemade muffins.

Truth be told, it's a little bit of both, although of course I tend to lean towards the former. Even so, occasionally I manage to get out to a decent restaurant, and for one night at least I am not confronted with a meal that makes me contemplate bloody vengeance. Quite the reverse, in fact.

On Friday night I joined The Flatmate and my friend AB at Jackson's, an eatery widely regarded as one of the best in the city. You can tell as soon as you enter. There are no hard noisy floors, no cheap chairs, no wobbling tables. Instead, there's a layer of comforting smugness that descends upon you. You can tell, immediately, that no one is going to try to cut costs by filling you up with cheap pasta. They're not even going to make you eat expensive pasta. You are here to taste remarkable things, not be glutted into dozy complacency.

We began with assorted breads, all exquisite in their own right, and a bowl of olives. We were then served a complementary appetiser - a salted wafer twisted into a cone, stuffed with smoked salmon and topped with a little ball of green pea and mint icecream. Some of you may be saying "Erk!" at the thought of savoury icecream cones, and if so, SHAME ON YOU! They were incredible; audacious yet perfectly balanced.

My main course was chestnut stuffed rabbit baked in prosciutto, served on a bed of beetroot risotto and garnished with lightly steamed asparagus. The rabbit was delicious. The asparagus was perfect. The risotto transcended perfection and went on to something higher. Indeed, I am thinking of getting a sample and sending it to The Vatican so that experienced theologians can study it for further proof of the existence of God.

The restaurant recommended a glass of Talijancich Graciano to compliment the rabbit, so I ordered one. It did indeed compliment the rabbit. It complimented the very nature of existence itself. It was as smooth and soft as old velvet, and with each sip it seemed to deliberately wait for a second before delivering an astonishing bouquet of flowers, fruits and vanilla.

For dessert, I continued with the chestnut theme and ordered crispy chestnut dumplings with warm chocolate sauce & bitter orange ice cream. The so-called dumplings were more like deep-fried ravioli (but still very good), while the bitter orange ice cream made sure that none of the sweeter parts of the dessert became overpowering.

The really interesting thing about this exquisite meal is that it all came to around $70 each. That might seem like a lot, if the restaurants you usually patronise have a drive-thru. But for three courses (the bread, olives and appetisers were basically a course unto themselves) with two glasses of wine, $70 is less than double what you'd pay at some wretched franchised carbo-hole. And it was more than twice as good. Frankly, it was more than three times, or four times as good. For $70 each, I think they were robbed.

Of course, the downside of all this is that the next time I go out, and find myself sitting in front of some gastronomic dreck at the aforementioned franchised carbo-hole, it's going to break my heart. If you happen to be there and notice me weeping, please just pretend that you don't. I'll try to be quiet.


Blogger MC Etcher said...

Beautifully told, I wish I'd been there. I've never had savory iced creams, but you make them sound very good.

9:37 PM  

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