An Irish pub. Too many bad Baileys experiences at Bridie O'Reilly's might make you run a mile, but The Last Jar ain't no marketing gimmick. She's the real deal, and you should make a special trip to check this one out.
This pub was the old Arthouse and is smack-bang on a busy corner. The cars outside clatter over the tram tracks, but step inside and the noise fades away. My maiden name is Reed, and my collection of 50+ sunscreen bottles shows that despite many generations living in Australia, the Emerald Isle still courses in me veins. It started to bubble the minute I stepped inside.
This is the kind of place you could pull up a pew and proceed to get very merry over the course of an afternoon. It's charming and not at all kitsch. The staff we spoke to all had that beautiful Irish lilt that makes even "would you like to see the menu?" sound like a folk song.
Do you have a "Do not pass go, do not collect $200" dish that as soon as you see, you just must order? One of my many is mussels. I love the rigamarole of foisting each meaty morsel out of the shells, dunking the bread in the juices, and slurping the last bits of goodness out of each shell - and off the shell itself! These were cooked with cider, dill and loads of sweet onion and served with crisp house-baked potato bread.
This heaping portion of house-cured salmon clocked in at a mere $12. Take a slice of soda bread, apply cream cheese in portions that defy gravity, and drape liberally with smoked salmon. Fabulous.
These beauties had that crystalline crunch that can only come from being carefully twice or even thrice cooked. The "curry sauce" is very Irish - a gravy-like dipping sauce lightly seasoned with curry powder. I'm probably too deep in the dead 'orse camp to fully appreciate it, but if you want a real taste of Ireland, order some up!
On leaving we spied a blackboard advertising a full Irish breakfast, featuring black pudding, sausage, toast and more, all made in house (says the website, "Everything except the egg"). "How much?" we asked. "Twenty dollars," said the barmaid, "but you can get a pint of Guinness for six dollars with it".
Beer. With breakfast. God, I love the Irish.
The Last Jar
Cnr Elizabeth and Queensberry Streets, Melbourne
Phone: 9348 2957
PS: More Rickshaw Run volunteers still needed! Read more about the Rickshaw Run here, and about volunteering here and here. Give me a call on 0438 583 808 to discuss how you can get involved. And if I have somehow failed to return your call, text or email - I've had a lot, bless you all! - PLEASE feel free to call me back and remind me!