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NEWS/ARTS | Vol. 23, No. 5, April 22, 2010
(Eat Guide 2010)

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Jackson's Spring Menu

by Ashley Hardaway

I was lucky enough recently to preview Jackson's new spring menu. Chef Irv Miller presented this season's dishes with light vinaigrettes, micro-greens and fresh vegetables, while Steve Ooms, Jackson's Restaurant Manager, shook up some decadent cocktail pairings with each course. Here are a few brief glimpses of some of Jackson's fantastic new offerings.


To begin any meal at a fine restaurant without indulging in a cocktail is to rob oneself of the experience of going out. I think of Antoine's in New Orleans and how for 160 years, people have gone there with the idea of food as the entertainment, as theatre, as the attraction. To start right away with an entree is tantamount to entering a show during intermission, eradicating the possibility of any sort of slow, graceful crescendo.

I suggest you begin your evening by ordering the French 75 cocktail. A Franco-American World War I Flying Ace who enjoyed champagne but wished the beverage had more of a kick to it invented this drink. Thus he added cognac, a bit of lemon juice and simple syrup to champagne, resulting in a drink so potent it feels as though you are being slammed by a French 75mm field gun. Drink slowly or you'll miss the main attraction.

The tangerine mint-glazed spring lamb entree was fantastic. The lamb hails from New Zealand, which is famous for having some of the best lamb in the world. The mild climate allows the animals to openly graze year-round. Because of this, farmers don't have to supplement the lamb's natural diet to achieve the desired tenderness and taste. The meat was spiced with annatto, which is traditionally used in Latin American cooking as a substitute for saffron when cooking Spanish dishes. It has a slightly sweet and peppery flavor and smells remarkably similar to nutmeg. The lamb was perfectly seared and the Windsor blue cheese crust accompanying it was delightfully salty, creating a nice juxtaposition of flavors with the slightly sweet glaze.

For those who prefer their dishes a little non-traditional, I would suggest Chef Miller's "East Meets West" Wagyu Farms flank steak served with a creamy mushroom risotto. Wagyu beef is the American version of Kobe steak, which is synonymous for its tender cuts and intense flavors. To order this steak anything above medium (and some would argue medium-rare) is to completely desecrate everything the farmers worked so hard to procure -- steak so tender it doesn't need a knife to be cut. Chef Miller does a wonderful job with the Asian-style sauce, which tastes lightly of soy, ginger and garlic, complementing the steak's natural great flavor without overbearing it.

If you're too full for dessert, end with a Kick in the Pants cocktail: vanilla vodka, triple espresso vodka, Godiva liqueur and espresso served over ice and topped with whipped cream. This sweet concoction is a great way to end the evening. And for a curtain call, be sure to check out Chef Miller's ever-changing dessert menu.

Enjoy the show. Come back often.

400 S. Palafox St.