I bought the Groupon set quite some time ago, and finally was able to use it by coaxing my friend to go visit JAR with me.
I had been longing to visit this restaurant for a long time, and having heard about its many positive reviews over the past year or so, I did have high expectations, and after this visit, I was not disappointed.
JAR is under the umbrella of the 798 unit & co. group, which is famed for introducing the "gastropub" concept to the local dining scene. Indeed JAR stands for "just-a-restaurant" and as the name goes, this place serves more "restaurant" food, and unlike the group's other outlets (which I've yet to visit), JAR's style is more inclined to a bistro kind of style. According to the JAR's definition on its official website, the difference between JAR and the other bistros of the group is " While 798 unit & co. bistros cater to more popular tastes, JAR –with a Central location and westernized audience– allows us to take a bolder approach in terms of food".
And here we ventured in to see how "bold" the food would be...
Booking is highly recommended - essential in my case as we were using the coupon - we arrived at the "early" hours (7 pm) and although there were only a few diners then, soon the place was filled to the brim!
OK. Westernized audience. They made up of like half of the patrons of the evening, as could be expected in view of the restaurant's strategic location near Lan Kwai Fong. The ambience was actually quite casual and people soon got cheered up as food came through and wine and beer flowed.
As the menu was already set there was no problem in deciding what to eat.Bread in a Sack
We loved the presentation. May I take a twist of Forrest Gump's quote: "life is like a sack of buns, you never know what you're gonna get". (In fact they were all the same herbed buns.) Knowing that we were having a big feast ahead, we still finished them all as they were so yummy! Salad of Endive, Apple, Roquefort & Walnuts
And this salad was really catered for the western palate. I think it had some kind of French/Belgian influence. The endive was crispy with a bit of sweetness and a tinge of bitterness, it went well with the apple which became the classic duo. Just that I didn't like the lettuce (?) that masked the delicate flavors of the endive, maybe it's better to just omit it. I have a personal affinity towards Roquefort cheese's strong, creamy and rich flavors while my friend liked the crunchywalnuts better. Pacific Manila Clams in White Wine Cream Sauce
They reminded us of a soft ocean breeze. The cream sauce was light in flavor, and now we regretted that we finished the bread before this came! Wild Mushroom Soup
This was a texturized version, the mushroom was pureed and so the mushrooms' meaty flavors were intense, and you could still see and chew on the little bits of mushrooms. I don't think a lot of cream was added and so it was refreshing.
And now the highlight of the meal!Whole Roast Chicken with Thyme, Root Vegetables & Corn on the Cob
Our eyes popped out when the huge bird landed on the table! We started to ponder at the back of our minds whether we could finish it...
After taking a few shots for the beautifully golden-roasted chicken, the server took it aside for carving with his marvellous skills.
Now ready to dig in! The chicken skin was crispy, the meat was succulent (even for the breast part! Yay best chicken breast I had!) with the familiar aroma of thyme (and maybe lemon?).The potatoes, leeks and corn sucked up the juices of the chicken and herbs, and before we realised, the only thing left on the table were the chicken bones!
(The other choice was Oven-roasted Long Bone Beef Short Rib which could feed like 4 people!)
We chose All About Duck Pasta
over Mixed Mushroom Papardelle as we already had mushroom soup.
It was Long Flat Pasta with Duck Fat, Sweet Braised Leek, and Duck Egg Yolk.
This resembled a duck version of carbonara, using pasta of the like of tagliatelle, which was very al dente. However the sauce was way too salty that we couldn't go on with it after a while. When the manager came over we told him this, and he said the reason was to tailor for western tastes of richer food. Oh well...
The meal came with Tea/Coffee, and even though my Earl Grey was just standard teabag stuff, its adorable bergamot smell was instantly invigorating.
We had a peek at the dessert menu (which was not included in the set), we couldn't stomach any more substantial dessert but still wanted something sweet, so we settled on some Gelati
($75 for 3 scoops). The flavors were quite imaginative (and presumably from xtc downhill as one of them was xtc chocolate). Ha, this is whether the "bolder approach in terms of food" comes in. We had what we thought most unusual combination of
Kalamansi sorbet + Lemon-Olive Oil Gelato + Grand Marnier Gelato
It took some time for the gelato to arrive (having to bring it up from xtc??), and yes we were impressed. Kalamansi is the Filipino version of our 柑桔 and tasted as such, tangy but not too sweet; my friend thought the olive oil gelato was weird but I liked it nevertheless. In fact I'd always wanted to try the olive oil gelato from another brand, but this one was not bad. The olive oil taste was not too overpowering, the problem was that it was too hard-frozen and I couldn't wait for it to thaw a bit. Anyway this flavor is not for the faint-hearted. We all know Grand Marnier is but its taste wasn't too strong when it was made into ice cream/gelato.
We had a very hefty and satisfying meal. Even though the prices for the regular menu (and the walk uphill!) are a bit steep, I'd recommend it as a nice place for a casual small group gathering
Spending per head: Approximately HKD195(Dinner)
Dining Offers: Group-buyOther Ratings:
Value for Money 4