Last year, Jac and I experienced Jackson’s legendary degustation dinner several months before the restaurant’s eventual closure with the retirement of chef-owner Neal Jackson.
The space has been taken over by chefs Scott O’Sullivan (Red Cabbage, South Perth) and Stuart (Petit Mort, Shenton Park), and given a new look and life as St Michael 6003. Chef Adam Sayles has come from Red Cabbage to head up the St Michael kitchen.
The menu’s all small plates, appetiser-sized. The food is inventive, artistic and intricate – if you just want to stuff your face, you’ll rip through every course in two minutes and feel outraged – maybe skip St Michael and grab a burrito or burger. For the rest of us, it’s perfect for date night – something a little different, a meal to savour that’s special, but not ridiculously extravagant.
At St Michael, you get to choose your own adventure:
- Three dishes for AU$49 per person. You don’t all have to order the same three dishes. Additional dishes can be ordered for $12.
- Seven courses for AU$89 – in this case, the seven dishes are set by the chef.
We chose the three dish option and each picked two savoury dishes and a dessert, so we got to try six different dishes from the menu. To start, we selected a seventh dish from the ‘Bar Bites’ section of the menu, salmon pastrami. In addition to this, there was complimentary lavosh and warm crusty bread, served with butter blended with Vegemite – a flavour sensation that looked remarkably like cat poo to the two of us crazy cat ladies. That didn’t put us off at all; we ate our way through the first plate of bread and a second round was suggested by our waiter, perfectly timed for mopping up the bacony baked beans on my second savoury dish (a slightly more civilised option to licking the plate, which you can bet I’ll be thinking about no matter what the occasion).
Jac’s first savoury course was marron, mushroom dashi + turnips. Our waiter poured the dashi from a flask tableside. In the centre of the dish were several pieces of delicate, barely cooked marron nestled among mushrooms, turnips and peppery flowers and leaves arranged like a fairy ring. But the best part was the rich, aromatic mushroom dashi.
My first savoury course was scallops, corn, spinach + shaved squid. The flavours were fantastic but for me, the real sensory pleasure came from the textures on the plate – chewing on the smooth ribbons of squid, the bursty pop of the sweet corn and the succulent bounce of the grilled scallops, which I rolled in the dark green liquid spinach. I shared a picture of this dish on my Facebook page on the night, and a follower immediately asked: How does one shave a squid?
My second savoury dish choice was the breakfasty smoked bacon, beans + egg. I didn’t expect the bacon to be so curly and lardaceous like crackling, but trust me, I’m not complaining! With baked beans and barbecue sauce, impossibly tiny pickled mushrooms, croutons and a crinkly fried egg with a yolk that oozed out as soon as I poked it with my fork – this is what that second round of bread was made for. I wiped the plate clean and wanted more.
Jac’s second savoury choice was lamb belly, mandarin + pickled yabbies – a roll of lamb belly complete with a splendid layer of fat, with tender pickled yabby tails and sweet mandarin segments brimming with juice. We’ve eaten lamb, yabbies and mandarins before, just not all on the same plate – until now. We both loved this dish. The only problem with sharing small plates is… they’re small plates.
I was intrigued by the idea of parsnip in a dessert and for my final dish chose the parsnip, honey + cornflake crunch. Drizzled with honey, the parsnip ice cream bore no visual resemblance whatsoever to a root vegetable – but its flavour was unmistakably, deliciously parsnip. I’m all for more desserts featuring root vegetables. Seriously, bring it on.
The incredibly soft microwave sponge is the chef’s trick that’s likely to become a cliche, but I love it and enjoy it every time it pops up on a fancy plate somewhere (sponge is infinitely more appetising than foam, for instance). Eating it all together – cold ice cream, soft spiced sponge, buttery cornflake crunch – this is another one for texture junkies.
Jac’s final dish of walnut, celeriac + blue cheese was a winner. Celeriac, white chocolate ganache and blue cheese may sound like more posh chef wankery, but together with the candied walnuts, pear cubes dripping with juice, and slightly bitter baby radicchio leaves, it worked – brilliantly.
We really enjoyed St Michael and creating our own degustation but in hindsight should’ve chosen the seven-course menu – truth is, we were still a little hungry when we left. But we didn’t really want a late night (part of the reason we didn’t choose the seven courses in the first place) and so decided against staying longer and ordering more food. Now we have an idea what to expect, next time we’ll be better prepared.
It was desolate in the dining room on Tuesday night a few weeks ago, with only three other tables besides us. St Michael 6003 is worthy of Perth’s attention and I’m sure as word gets around, things will pick up. So now’s really the time to check it out.
St Michael 6003
483 Beaufort Street, Highgate
Telephone: (08) 9328 1177
Tuesday to Thursday 5pm to 10pm
Friday 12pm to 5pm (lunch), then 5pm to 10pm (dinner)
Saturday 5pm to 10pm
Closed on Sunday and Monday
Tuesday is BYO night (bottled wine only)
Jac and I are off overseas again shortly! Keep an eye out for updates on the go, at Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also get a sneak peek of the Instagram and Facebook feeds in my blog’s right sidebar.