The Jackson Plan
40 Duxton Hill
I’m British, but not particularly proud of it. A few visits to old colonies where well-meaning but ignorant kingdom-makers have trampled over indigenous cultures will cure you of Queen-and-country patriotism.
But I am passionate about something Brits apparently shouldn’t be, gastronomy. I can hear the gasps of horror and heavy tsks from Europeans, Asian and Indians proud of their long culinary histories, but that’s not entirely fair nowadays.
Did you know that British restaurants were awarded 143 stars in the Michelin Guide 2011? These aren’t classroom Brownie points handed out for good behaviour; it’s the rating system of the most respected and influential food critics in the world. Admittedly, some of the starred restaurants serve up French, Chinese and Italian food, but of the four places awarded the illustrious three stars, I’m proud to say, two are run by British chefs cooking with British ingredients.
Beppe de Vito, the man behind Sentosa’s Il Lido, has clearly recognised the potential of British food: he has just opened a British gastrobar called The Jackson Plan, on Duxton Hill. My intrigued patriotic taste buds led me straight to it.
As you walk in, the atmosphere in the restaurant is a little confused. The main dining area features tables and chairs that look like they’ve been stolen from a quaint little pub in the wilds of the English countryside. That romance is ruined by stark green and white concrete walls that make you feel like you’re in a canteen with industrial lighting – one that might have doubled as a refrigerator in a submarine. And the bar? That’s lined with yellow planks, which I can only assume are meant to be reminiscent of a seaside resort.
The menu is full of chef-speak for classic, hearty dishes served in homes up and down the UK. I started with the potted smoked mackerel ($12.50), crab cakes ($16.50) – no potato stuffing here, and the Scotch duck egg ($13.50). Substituting duck meat for the traditional pork is innovative, but a little disappointing for someone expecting the real McCoy.
The restaurant’s star dish is the fisherman’s pie ($21.50). It’s a generous portion of fluffy, crispy-peaked mashed potato floating on a creamy sauce full of perfectly cooked fish and boiled eggs. It’s heavenly washed down with a tankard of fresh Pimm’s ($10.50).
The Jackson Plan has a lot of familiar flavours on its menu, but some dishes you’d expect to see are missing. Like Sunday roast. This is the cornerstone of the British family, served everywhere from castles to cubbyholes across the British Isles. Other dishes have been injected with Asian flavours, perhaps to appease the local palate.
This isn’t food Londoners would expect to eat at a gastropub, nor is it entirely British home fare. It’s British with a twist. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, and a lot of that will depend on the nationality of the person eating it.