(photo credit for the above three photos goes to Jackson Plan Website.)
Heard so much about The Jackson Plan, an English Gastropub, just beside the Duxton Hill carpark, very convenient.
We thought it would be atas place and all, especially when the chef has experience at a 2-star Michelin restaurant. But the price is rather competitive and the place gives a vibrant and lively atmosphere that English pubs have. The restaurant also incorporates colonial elements in the menu, hinted by the name, Jackson Plan: Philip Jackson is the guy who divided Singapore into 4 districts for the 4 races, Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and Eurasian quarter.
For starters, we had potted smoked mackerel ($13.50), Pig tails ($11.50), Chicken Livers ($11.50) and Crab Cakes ($18.50). Almost everything in the restaurant is done from scratch, so the chef actually potted (preserved) and smoked the mackerel himself. The potted smoked mackerel is a påté to be applied on the accompanying rye toast – not a favorite. The Pig tail comes in a croquette, luckily! If not it will be quite scary. I cannot appreciate the gelatin pig tail but Mao Mao liked the accompanying vinegarised homemade baked beans, strongly herby. Mao Mao also found the crab cake topped with quail eggs and anchovy cream enjoyable; it has, according to him, (I’m translating here) “a good crusty texture and the potato gels the crab well together.” My favorite, however, has to be chicken livers with bacon, imbued with port, on sour dough. The livers are alright but the sour dough! WOAH! All the essence of the port, bacon oil and chicken liver sauce, soaked thoroughly on the crunchy sour dough.
For mains, the six of us shared Lancashire Hot Pot ($23.50); Berkshire Pork Cheek ($23.50); Saltmarsh Lamb ($28) and Fisherman’s Pie ($25.50). The saltmarsh lamb comes in a steak form with a side of Irish Champ (mashed potatoes) and charding(??), that according to Mao Mao “is one of the rare vegetables that tastes better overcooked.” To tell the truth, I couldn’t differentiate between the saltmarsh lamb and pork cheek (pictured above). They have the same texture and same generic meat taste that have been stripped of their stench but also of their unique favors. However, the pork cheek comes with a very interesting pea puree.
Mao Mao’s absolute favorite is the Fisherman’s Pie, kinda like a Shepard’s Pie using salmon and a white fish. He said that the pie is perfect with its slightly charred crust and the salmon is still moist, isn’t overcooked. I, however, adored the Lancashire Hot Pot ,a stew with potatos. I dunno if it is psychological since this is the dish that won Nigel Haworth and Paul Heathcote their 2-michelin stars. But it is to me so amazing. It conjures a very homey feeling, like my grandmother’s cooking. Mao Mao thought the dish isn’t complex enough and should go with rice but I thought the point of the dish is to be as simple and as rustic as possible. It is the kind of authentic bar grub that simple innkeepers throw every ingredient in the pot to stew for factory workers or miners in UK.
All the dishes come across as healthily saltless but after we ruminated over it, we understood the mentality of the chef. He wants to present the dishes as they are, to bring out their original flavors with herbs, not salt. To the MSG-loaded society we are in, this concept of presenting honest food may succeed or sink.
Farquhar Mess ($11.50) is the chef’s interpretation of southeast asian meringue, using cream, mango and gula melaka. Cute name for a dessert, considering Raffles left Farquhar to ru(i)n Singapore. Do you know the actual Scottish pronunciation of “Farquhar” is “f**ker”? I kid you not. Not particularly a favorite for our party of 6. We also tried Eccles Cakes with Rum & Raisin Ice Cream ($10.50). Eccles is a place in Manchester, their football may be great but the cakes are so-so, a little tough, not light and fluffy and soft enough. But our new Japanese friend, Miya, was very delighted with the homemake rum & raisin ice cream! While Mao Mao thought the desserts were overall too sweet, I strongly recommend the Sticky Toffee Pudding ($11.50). This pudding brought me back to my childhood when I was given toffee during Chinese New Year. The dessert comes as a great surprise, so sweet that it will definitely recall your childhood fondness for sweets.
We also had a cocktail each at this gastroBAR. Queen’s Cup ($12.50) for me – vodka, tomato, cucumber, lemon and masala. Masala!! in a cocktail. No denying that this drink takes some getting used to: it is bitter at first, but drink more and it transforms to something very refreshing, fruity and clear. Good for a hot day. Mao Mao, the poor PRC slave, of course, had the Coolie’s Cup ($13.50), consisting rum, absinth, kalamansi, mint, gula malaca and Cinnamon, tasting like liquorice. The one drink that my friend said I must absolutely have when I was in UK is Pimm’s ($10.50). It’s just a very UK thing. Other notable cocktails are Jackson Punch ($13.50), and Duxton Punch ($12.50).
Overall, Chef Christopher Dougan is doing something very interesting here. The English hates the French because French despises the English for their simple chow. But Chef Dougan is presenting English bar grub as something worthy of a good gastronomical experience. So now, after educating myself, English food isn’t only fish and chips (with vinegar). An eye-opener.
The Jackson Plan
40 Duxton Hill
T: 6866 1988
Restaurant opening hours
Bar opening hours
M-Th: 11.30pm-12 midnight
F: 11.30pm – 1am
Close on Sunday
Rating: 3.291/5 stars