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We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of Jack’s Brassiere’s new autumn menu, and as we trudged along Bristol’s very blustery waterfront, it couldn’t have felt any more seasonal!
Thankfully though, it was a completely different story as soon as we arrived at Jack’s. The atmosphere was as warm as the welcome we received (the glass of pink champagne on arrival helped!), and having made ourselves comfy in the slick, stylish yet surprisingly cosy bar area, it wasn’t long before our gastronomic journey began!
The evening wasn’t just to celebrate Jack’s new seasonal menu, but also to introduce our fair city’s foodie community to the new executive chef, Simon Davis. Having previously worked as senior sous chef at Harvey Nichols 2AA rosette Second Floor Restaurant, it’s no surprise that Simon’s food is modern, innovative and dare I say it, of a much higher standard than I was initially expecting from Jack’s! In his own words, the new menu is a range of dishes “that make the most of what’s nest about the West with a contemporary twist” and I can assure you, Simon’s achieved this and then some!
If any of you are unfamiliar with Jack’s, it’s one of two-it’s sister restaurant resides on the up and coming Port Marine area of Portishead. The Bristol branch is nestled behind the Lloyd’s banking building off of Millennium Square, and I was somewhat saddened to hear that they currently close over the late winter months, as their simply isn’t enough passing trade! Hopefully however, this will change, as quite honestly, the food is nothing short of astounding. Perhaps it was the fact that I just wasn’t expecting it, or maybe it was because it was ‘opening night’ for the new menu, and everything had to be perfect, but irrespective of service, wine or atmosphere, Simon’s culinary skills alone were enough to assure that I want to eat here again.
As it was a tasting menu I won’t bore you with an in-depth analysis of each dish. Instead I’ll show you the pictures (far more exciting) and give you a whistle stop description if just why each course was better than the last!
- Cornish crab cakes with lemon mayonnaise-light, fresh and with a perfectly crunchy crumb.
- Goats cheese, olive crust, quince, orange and herb salad-beautifully balanced flavours, tangy goats cheese with rich black olive crust and a citrus kick.
- Pickled garlic wrapped in Parma ham-so simple yet such a tasty combination-my favourite canapé by far.
Sweetcorn and sweet chilli chicken soup-So indulgent that it was probably a good thing we only had a tiny portion. Gorgeously creamy and perfectly seasoned-the addition of the shredded chilli chicken took this soup from great to brilliant!
- Ham hock and black pudding terrine-Had this not had the addition of the sweet, tangy Weston’s cider compote it would have been verging on a meat overload, as the terrine was extremely rich. Luckily though, it had clearly been very well thought through, as the flavours and textures were beautifully balanced.
- Poached St Mawes smoked haddock and soft poached egg-This was a fine example of simple ingredients cooked to perfection. The fish was melt in your mouth, the egg was poached perfectly and the silky hollandaise sauce completed the trio-what more could you want?
- Slow cooked suet pudding and roast haunch of venison, spiced White cabbage and carrot purée-Without a doubt the star of the show! The venison had been procured that day from Ashton Court and was nothing short of divine, as was the venison suet pudding. The spiced cabbage was an incredibly clever addition, and took the edge off an otherwise quite heavy plate of food, as was the carrot purée, which was so well seasoned it was almost the best thing on the plate!
- Chocolate mousse with sliced poached pear-Seriously rich and decadent-you couldn’t have eaten much more than one scoop.
- Apple and Blackberry crumble-Classic crumble, done really, really well!
- Hazelnut parfait with passion fruit and mango sorbet-On paper, an unusual combination. But as they say, the proof is in the pudding, and for someone who’s normally ‘not a pudding person’, I’d choose this over the cheese board ever time-absolutely gorgeous!
Wines for the evening were selected and supplied by local wine distributors, Matthew Clark. Our sommelier for the evening, Sam, made sure each selection was described and the pairing between the wine and the course explained. For someone who doesn’t know half as much about wine as I’d like to, he made a sometimes mind-boggling subject surprisingly accessible and understandable.
So will I be going back to Jack’s again? Absolutely! Yes, we were extremely lucky to be invited to a one off taster menu, which showcased the very best that the menu has to offer, but this aside, it’s clear to see that everyone at Jack’s really ‘gets it’. The food is seasonal, local, and above all things, the staff seem really passionate about creating a restaurant where people will want to come to eat and drink again and again. With Simon and manager Tori at the helm, I’ve got a feeling that things at Jack’s are just going to get better and better.