Vintage Jackson's

Ye olde steak house could use an update

Out of our lavish three-course meal only one totally delicious dish emerged — a side of potatoes gratin ($8) full of butter, cream, and the most delicate sliced potatoes inside, a spotted crust on top, and the exact amount of salt required. If Jackson's could turn out all its classic dishes this well I'd be happy — but there were those dry, pre-frozen oysters ($12), the lifeless bits of flat-tasting lump crabmeat with cocktail sauce ($12), a generous but overcooked and under-salted veal porterhouse chop (part tenderloin, part eye). The waitress recommended the temp for this one as "medium rare plus;" when it arrived it was bloody close to the bone and stringy further out — if any herbs had been used to season it they were undetectable and there was no natural juice on the plate. I thought back to a juicy salt-baked veal tenderloin I'd had recently at home and mourned the difference.

My pal's 22 oz. "Chicago cut" chop ($48) — a huge, bone-in ribeye cooked medium rare, was good enough to satisfy any steak lover — thickly marbled and tender, a beautiful piece of beef big enough for three meals. But I still missed the kick that takes beef to brilliant— the crunch of sea salt or peppercorns, a side of whole roasted garlic, a tomato confit, a bit of reduced wine sauce, or the dense, slightly gamey flavor of dry aging. The flavoring of everything was so minimalist I wondered if Jackson's kitchen was cooking with an eye to an aging, spice-phobic clientele. A dish of sautéed mushrooms ($9) upped the umami quotient — sliced portabellas, shiitakes, and creminis in their buttery juices. The creamed spinach ($8) needed salt.

A chocolate soufflé ($9.50, also hazelnut or Grand Marnier) should be ordered ahead if you're in a hurry, but we weren't, so we lingered a half hour or so over the rest of our wine. Jackson's does a good job with this retro dessert — a classic that feels contemporary. All that white space, those free ranging molecules of egg and chocolate: the soufflé is basically an early experiment with sugar-scented "foam" any molecular gastronomist could learn from, never cloying or heavy. And a dish of fat, sweet blackberries and strawberries with clotted cream ($8.50) was one expression of vintage simplicity that actually worked.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Jackson's Steakhouse

450 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Jackson's Steakhouse, 450 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Open nightly 4:30 till 11 p.m. Call 954-522-4450.

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At the end of the first season of Mad Men, people start feeling the effects of all that butter, cream, tobacco, and gin. Sterling has two heart attacks, and Draper gets a prescription for high blood pressure. If you're going to eat pricey 22-ounce chops, summer oysters, and creamed spinach, let them be luxurious investments worth a certain calculated risk.

I'm sorry to say your odds are better elsewhere.

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