57 Hampden Road, Battery Point, Tasmania
When Mrs SB&R and I were planning our trip to Tasmania, one of her work colleagues gave her a list of place to visit in Hobart. Jackman & McRoss was high on the list, recommended for its bakery products, coffee, and its signature scallop pie – a culinary item peculiar to Tasmania, which is well known for its scallop fisheries. Walking up the hill from Salamanca Place, we discovered the bakery nestled in the historic Battery Point area, which is mostly residential, with only a few shops clustered around one intersection. One of these shops is Jackman & McRoss, and it seems to draw a big crowd as the only eating establishment in the immediate area. Painted underneath the name on the outside of the Federation era building is the slogan “Bakers of fine breads, cakes & pastries”. It’s a shame the word “purveyors” isn’t in there somewhere.
Inside, the small area in front of the display counters is packed with customers queueing to order coffee or get a croissant or other pastry to take away. The counters are stuffed to the gills with amazing looking cakes and Viennoiserie. And to the right side is an opening beyond which several roms of what obviously used to be a house have been converted into places with cafe tables. We are fortunate to grab a free table at an inside room, and sneakily move over to a window table later on. On the menu are not one, not two, but three different sausage rolls: pork and apple; duck, cranberry, and walnut; and Thai spiced chicken! Also in the display counter is something I’ve never seen before, labelled with a little sign, describing it as: “vanilla slice with crème patisserie, fresh strawberries, & brisee pastry”. All right! Let’s try the highly unusual duck sausage roll, with the vanilla slice for afters.
The duck, cranberry, and walnut sausage roll comes on a plate with a spicy tomato relish with visible tomato chunks, onions, and mustard seeds. The roll itself has crispy, flaky looking pastry topped with sesame seeds. Dark duck meat shows at the ends, with the meat fibres plainly visible, and with cranberries, onions, and fresh herbs also evident. It looks fantastic.
The pastry is a little bit soft near the meat, but the surface layers are good and flaky. The filling is lovely moist duck meat with some of the fibrous structure of the meat remaining. It’s partway between pulled and minced meat, and it’s nice to get some of that feeling of a nice juicy duck leg without the meat being completely mashed up. The cranberries provide a fresh sweet taste to counterpoint the oiliness of the duck meat, There are also generous onion chunks and large, crunchy pieces of walnut, slightly softened by cooking. The flavour is deliciously balanced and varied, with good texture contrast between the soft duck meat and the crunchy walnuts. The relish is really not needed but I try adding a bit after a few bites and it provides a spicy tartness which throws in another dimension to the complex flavour profile. The filling is deliciously moist but not really juicy as in oozing meat juices. Excellent… but not quite full marks material.
The vanilla slice is an astonishing variation, with a whipped cream and fresh strawberry filling sandwiched between two sheets of incredibly flaky puff pastry, all topped with a glistening layer of soft and drippy looking snow white icing, decorated with piped diagonal streaks of yellow off-white icing that looks firmer and promises perhaps some vanilla flavour. It’s difficult to pick up and attack by hand, with fingers sticking immediately to the white icing.
The first two attempted bites squash the filling away from the bite pressure, resulting in no strawberry at all, but only a mouthful of crunchy pastry shards and cream. The whipped cream is thick and rich and flavoured with vanilla, with dark specks of fresh vanilla bean visible. It’s almost impossible to eat this with hands and people in the cafe stare at me as I try in vain and smear cream all over my face. After four bites I throw in the towel, lick the icing off my fingers, and resort to the fork. This has obviously been assembled at most a few hours earlier from crisply baked pastry sheets, cream, and fresh strawberries.
The pastry is crunchy and shatters readily, but shows a little oiliness from all the butter that must be in it. Alas, the icing is a bit too sweet and overpowers the subtler flavours of the vanilla cream and strawberries. The textures are good, with smooth soft cream and plump juicy berries contrasted with the crisp pastry shards. The lack of custard is not really a problem in this interpretation, and it stands well. The main issue is the sweetness of the icing, and this could work better if it wasn’t there at all. Different, bold, good, but with minor flaws.
A day later we are back to have breakfast at Jackman & McRoss. This time I have to try the pork and apple sausage roll. This roll looks considerably different, being fat and generous, where the duck roll was more normally proportioned. It too comes with the spicy tomato relish.
The pastry is crisper and flakier than the duck roll. The meat filling is rich and moist, full of sweet apple chunks, plus herbs, carrot, and onions. Apple is of course the classic accompaniment to roast pork, and it adds a nice touch of sweetness to the meat. There is nice seasoning too, a noticeable hint of salt and pepper. The relish works better with this than with the duck too. Today I notice that the relish has Mexican flavour notes, possibly cumin. It’s just delicious, and wins over the duck roll because it’s significantly more juicy – the delicious pork just melts in the mouth. The duck was excellent, but this is better. Yesterday they sold out of the pork and apple sausage roll first – and I can see why.
Later I look up “brisee pastry” and discover that it is the French term for shortcrust pastry, which seems wrong, as the pastry in the slice was definitely of the puff variety. Well, they might get the term wrong, but the pastry cheffing here is beyond reproach.
Duck, cranberry, and walnut sausage roll: 9/10
Vanilla slice with crème patisserie, fresh strawberries, & brisee pastry: 7/10
Pork and apple sausage roll: 10/10