A Wale of a time!
I’m going to try not to offend anyone here but let me just cut to the chase: for ‘Welsh’ we went to The Last Jar, an Irish pub and restaurant. I’m sorry, it’s the best we could do.
As we approach the end of the alphabet, it’s getting increasingly difficult not to bend the rules. There are no Welsh restaurants in Melbourne (are there?) or any other feasible countries starting with W and so we figured Irish/Welsh, similar climate, similar culture, similar food?
There I go offending people. Nevertheless it was a rule bend that paid off in spades as The Last Jar was absolutely fantastic!
Firstly, the place was pumping, we only just managed to secure a table but the staff (each served with a thick Irish accent) were super accommodating. This place is half bar half restaurant and, as their website aptly states, ‘The Last Jar is everything you won’t see in a run of the mill Irish-Pub franchise’ so don’t go there expecting to order a parma.
We started the night with some shared entrees: crumbed garlic mushrooms, crispy pig’s ear and the special of the night, bone marrow with grilled bread.
The garlic mushrooms were sensational, garlicky, cheesy, fried goodness. The pig’s ears were probably the let down of the bunch; mostly batter, rather than crispy salty hearing devices. The bone marrow on the other hand was outstanding. To give you an idea of how good it was, we had to rock-off to determine who got the last bit of perfectly grilled house baked bread and morsel of salty, fatty, warm bone marrow. Needless to say I was ecstatic when my rock-paper-scissors strategy paid off on this occasion.
Next up was main, an ‘each to their own’ affair. The special of the night was pork cheek with swede mash, kale and bacon, the most popular choice on our table. I forced myself to try something else for the sake of variety and ordered the pot of mussels with cider, parsley and dill. The other dish in our party was the salt ling potato cake, battered egg, watercress and apple salad.
The winner of the night was, surprise surprise, the special pork cheek. Big, hearty servings, beautifully slow cooked and accompanied perfectly by it’s sides.
Of course, I can’t guarantee this or the bone marrow will be available when you go there… I guess you’ve got to count on the luck of the Irish!
The pork cheek was a hit and luckily for me I got to try some…’for the blog’.
Have you ever thought “my mussels are nice but I wish I had what he has”? At the gym perhaps? Yeah, I thought so. Well this is exactly what I was experiencing at dinner.
Although my mussels we really nice and cider was a welcome change to the usual white wine, garlic and chilli combo, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the delicious hunk of meat that was
the guy at the bench press the pork cheek. However, the mussels were a lighter choice which, after winning the last of the bone marrow, probably wasn’t a bad thing.
The salt ling potato cake below was by all reports a tasty, albeit a strange main dish to choose (a potato cake?). Of course it wasn’t your run of the mill potato cake but it was a far cry from the 3 pigs cheeks and approximately 25 mussels on the table.
Don’t let this put you off though, this wasn’t a forced choice from lack of enticing alternatives. The menu at The Last Jar is fantastic and includes many of the proteins you’ve always dreamed of, as well as vegetarian options, a steak section and an innovative spin on familiar foods.
Utterly satisfied, incredibly well looked after and a few beers and wines to the wind, we wanted to make our Last Jar experience…last. So we went ahead and ordered what I like to call an Unnecessary Cheese Plate. The UCP should be named as such on all restaurant menus, because by that stage of the night, you don’t really need more rich, delicious, decadent food…but hey, cheese is just so damn nice. The outstanding feature of the UCP at The Last Jar was the amount of bread and crackers it came with. At so many restaurants these days, I feel like I have to LOAD the cheeses up on each little bit of cracker for fear that I might run out of crispbread and simply end up shovelling the last of the dairy into my face with my hands. This was different – finally, finally I’ve encountered a place where the cheese was finished and there was still bread left over. Thank you, The Last Jar!
As you can tell, our experience at The Last Jar was absolutely fantastic. If I were to give you one piece of advice it would be to branch out a little; bone marrow, pig’s ears and any animal’s cheek aren’t nearly as scary as they sound and these chefs really know what they’re doing. Do yourself a favour and take the opportunity to try some familiar flavours prepared in a really different way.
I’m no closer to understanding what typical Welsh food is like but I’m now a huge fan of Irish food and a lot more content after my visit here. This definitely won’t be the last hoorah at The Last Jar.
Food: Innovative, hearty, superb
Service: Accommodating and authentic, thanks to the accents
Atmosphere: Bustling – noisy but in a fun way
Highlight: The bone marrow
Cost: Mid range