The Last Jar is a typical Irish pub and restaurant located near to Queen Vic Market in the North of the CBD. They always have lots going on, from live music to menu specials to the occasional mussel festival. We were invited down to try their 5 course Chef’s Menu. Exclusively on Saturday nights, this weekly changing menu is just $45 and can be enjoyed in their restaurant or pub area.
The pub is dark, with small windows, dark wood floors and those heavy wooden tables typical of old fashioned pubs. It’s loud and lively (a pub crawl entered a few minutes after we arrived) and offers all the traditional beverages you would expect from an Irish establishment. The restaurant room, set back from the pub is a brighter, calmer space and while the noise of the pub will trickle through, you can except a more chilled out dining experience in this area of the venue.
For only $45 I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this is way beyond your usual pub food and is such a great value dining experience. Obviously the menu changes weekly but our five courses consisted of Rosemary and Thyme Bread, Carrot & Cauliflower, Squid and Mussel Bisque, Chicken Ballotine and Dark Chocolate Coffee Mousse Cake. I was really pleased with the variety and the portions were generous. I definitely left full. The bread, accompanied by a house churned lemon balm butter, was exquisite. The butter was such a surprising and unique flavour and gave a really great start to the meal.
The carrot and cauliflower was probably my favourite course. I’m a huge fan of veggies, and they were well cooked and delicately accompanied by ricotta and salsa verde. It’s not easy to make cauliflower interesting but these guys did it so well. The squid and mussel bisque had a nice flavour but the squid was a little chewy. Not a bad dish, but not as good as the rest of the menu. The chicken ballotine was another creative dish. I thought this was really hearty pub food and fitted well with their image while offering a little twist away from the traditional meat and roast potatoes. The chicken was well done with a lot of flavour and I liked the presentation of the potato. Finally we finished up with the beautiful Dark Chocolate Coffee Mousse Cake with Orange Cointreau jelly. The meal ended as unexpectedly as it began, as I was surprised how sophisticated and rich this dessert was – full of well balanced flavours it was a nice little treat to end our evening with.
Overall, service was friendly and I loved the care taken to explain each dish. Personally I would have preferred the food to come out a little slower, as we were literally finishing one dish and instantly being presented with the next. However, it’s a small criticism for what was an excellent value, well executed meal. Thanks for having us The Last Jar and thanks so much Melb to Mouth for your company and your photos! (Seriously peeps, check this girl out, she knows everything there is to know about Melbourne food).