While it’s now late Feb, it’s only now that I’ve come to writing up my team’s Christmas lunch. While Big Fil may want to take credit in identifying The Last Jar as a place to try out, I have to burst his bubble, as I had known about TLJ for a good six months before he first started mentioning the place... so nyah!
TLJ is an Irish pub doing Irish pub meals. It seemed to be the perfect place for my fellow podders as they have a quasi ritual of having steak for their Christmas lunch each year. So on a stinking hot day, we scurried our way from the city into city fringe of North Melbourne.
Stepping inside into the cool, stone building, with high ceilings was a great relief. The soothing pastel colour scheme and also helped bring the temperature down – at least in our overheated minds. I especially liked the quaintly simplistic decorative touches of vases of fresh flowers and slightly mismatched solid wooden furniture.
The friendly waitress quickly brought over large enamel jugs of cold water and some of the guys took the opportunity to knock back some Guinness.
As we had all studied the menu days before the lunch, we all knew what we wanted to order. In the menu, TLJ proclaimed that they "churn the butter, we make the bread, we smoke and cure the fish, we make the sausages and puddings, we salt and smoke the bacon...and the curry sauce. We don't make the oysters, we don't make the fries and we don't lay the eggs."
And indeed they make the bread and churn the butter, and man, they taste good! The dark bread was full of deep savoury flavour but with a lovely mellow sweetness. I couldn't help but wonder if there was some Guinness in it. It also had lots of nubbly texture from the various seeds through it. Despite it looking dense and heavy, it was actually surprisingly light and moist.
The white bread also had the light and moist texture, and was some of the most flavoursome white bread that I've ever eaten. Everything about these two breads made you believe that you were eating this in a homely farm out in Ireland. It's no hyperbole that you could taste the essence of homemade food and the earnestness of the simple bread and butter.
Thank goodness for the bread because it would be a very long wait before our meals came. The staff were a bit apologetic but said the delay was due to the business of the seasonal Christmas trade. So 45 minutes later, our steaks finally arrive. I've only put one photo of the steaks up, as they all looked the same but each had a different sized steak. By memory, I think this was a 250 gram scotch fillet. A nice beefy steak that's better than your typical steak from a pub. The chips were chunky with a thin crispiness and flouriness on the inside. The salad was plentiful and very fresh. I also liked the addition of the thinly shaved onions in it.
The steaks came with a green peppercorn and whiskey cream sauce - properly made and not that icky packet stuff.
Food – 8
Ambiance - 7.5
Service – 6
Price - 7.5
The food is above average and pretty decent in size. You can tell they take a lot of pride in the food they serve here at TLJ. The restaurant area, which is where we sat, is nice but the acoustics of the room makes it very loud - what with the echoing laughter from diners, the footsteps and chairs scraping back on the floors.
Service is friendly but I had to give it a score of 6 because of the delay in the food. However, I reckon this was because of the Christmas time. I'd go back again if I wanted a nice steak in a comfortable, relaxed, homely setting.
The Last Jar
616 Elizabeth Street
North Melbourne 3000
Telephone: 9348 2957