Jasper Kitchen has recently undergone a renovation to entice diners to wander in, grab a drink and watch the world go by from the breezy bar and dining area as you savour tapas with a couple of friends.
You can be easily tempted into taking a detour and relax in the casual ambiance of Jasper Kitchen. On the street, you’ve got the hordes of tourists and shoppers coming and going from the Vic Market and the many uni students nearby. Step over the threshold into Jasper Kitchen, with its wide open windows with street views and spacious open planning dining area and you join the lucky ones taking a breather from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
To kick things off, we were treated to the Jasper cocktail – a refreshing tropical tipple made with Malibu, rum, apple and pineapple juice.
With Brazilian head chef Bruno Lima in charge, the menu features a blend of South America, Europe and Australia cuisines. A range of tapas helped whet our appetites, including aceitenuas a la madrilena (mixed marinated olives); chilli salted calamari, which was not too spicy and it makes a nice change from the ubiquitous salt and pepper version; seta al ajillo – lovely, plump field mushrooms cooked in garlic, olive oil and chilli; and the moreish garlic prawns in olive oil and wine.
I tried the chicken slider out of the trio of Jasper sliders (beef, pork and chicken). Chicken tenderloin grilled perfectly so it’s still succulent was yummy with the avo and salad.
The albondegas de carne were these meaty but light wagyu meatballs served with a chunky tomato salsa…
…and were great with some garlic bread to mop up the salsa.
Last but not least was the pollo escabache. A lovely moreish chunky ‘spread’ of slow cooked tender chicken served on crispy croutons. The chicken was delicious as it had an almost creamy and rich texture – almost like a chunky chicken pate.
Before the mains were served, we were taken on a tour of the renovated Jasper Hotel, including the pretty courtyard with wooden decking, vertical garden and astro turf.
For mains, we chose the char-grilled porterhouse steak w wilted baby spinach and honey roasted parsnips and gravy. We had asked the steak to be served medium but I thought it was well done as there was no pink in the steak. But I really liked the spinach and the tender parsnips.
And the tempura soft shell crab had a light, crisp batter and was of a reasonable size. It came on a bed of bean shoots, green papaya and coriander salad. However, there wasn’t much, if any, seasoning on the salad and we couldn’t discern the wasabi and soy dressing. Having said that, the salad was fresh, crunchy and was moist from the natural juices of the salad ingredients.
Unfortunately we had to leave early and missed out on trying dessert.
Verdict – we liked it
Jasper Kitchen is a nice spot for a tipple, nibble or a full meal. Amid the many backpacker hotels in the area, Jasper Kitchen offers a casual elegance for something a bit more special and is easy on the pocket.