JAR, which humbly stands for Just a Restaurant, is another new addition to up and coming Lyndhurst 8. It opened in December and has since created quite a following, meaning it is near impossible to get a table without a reservation. Serving European cuisine in a modern, very simply designed setting, I guess it would be fair to say that it is, in fact, just a restaurant; the walls are white-washed brick, the floor is stripped wood, the tables are bare (at least at lunchtime – it appears that they dress the tables with a table cloth for dinner), and the chairs are mis-matched. One touch I particularly like are the numerous bare lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, with all cables exposed. With their motto being “no fuss, no frills – just a restaurant,” they seem to be going for minimalist design, in order that their customers focus on what is most important in any restaurant: the food. I wholeheartedly agree.
I got a little over-excited by the way they serve their bread. I had read about it online and was actually like a young child (or even my 23-year-old self) on Christmas Eve. They serve you little herby rolls in a cloth bag which has hot stones hidden in the bottom of it to keep the rolls warm. Ingenious idea and would have made me happy even if the bread was stale and mouldy – which of course (thankfully) it wasn’t.
There are two set menu options for lunch which change seasonally: “Just a lunch” at $128 or “Just another lunch” at $98. Both offer a three course meal plus tea or coffee, but obviously the dishes on the pricier side of the menu are a little bit fancier and larger, with options such as baby lamb with sweet corn mashed potato, or slow-braised ox-tail with cauliflower mash. Steak frites demands a $50 supplement which seems a little unnecessary. The other side of the menu, which was our selection, offered smaller and more down to earth options. The starter (on both menus in fact) was either soup of the day (leek and potato in this case) or some salad from the buffet. The soup, although at first sight appeared watered down, was actually rather tasty. I wouldn’t put it on the same scale as Covent Garden soup but it’s up there. The salad buffet was fine, where strangely for me, the beetroot won top trumps. It was only really fine because I knew I had more food coming. Had that been it, however, I think I would have been disappointed.
Main course for me was grilled flatbread with caramelised onions, taleggio cheese and chorizo, served, very rustically, on a wooden board. It was a little bit rich as there was a LOT of caramelised onion, but had a nice flavour and I particularly enjoyed the taleggio. I’m glad I tried it, as I was completely torn over what to choose (the menu online is not their up to date version, so my original choice of smoked ham, asparagus and ricotta quiche was sadly not an option. Naturally I did have a little grumble about this), but I’m not certain I would order it again. My opinion was the opposite of my friends’ however, who both ordered the “mac and 4 cheese” (fontina, gruyere, emmenthal and cheddar) and thought it was so deliciously wonderful that they said they would come back and order it again and again. I don’t know what they’ll do if it is removed from the set menu. There was a small case of food envy, however, as one looked beautifully golden, whilst the other, slightly anaemic.
For dessert we had a choice of “yoghurt flavoured ice-cream” (do you mean frozen yoghurt?!) or mango and raspberry torte. Although when the waitress told us the options, I was a little put out by the lack of anything chocolatey, both desserts were actually delicious. The frozen yoghurt was very tart in comparison to the kind you buy in the average froyo place (by the way, Yo Fresh on Caine Road gives you an extra free topping every Monday!). I love sour things so this was exactly to my liking, but I guess if you don’t then it might not be your cup of tea. The mango and raspberry torte looked artificial and overly sweet but was surprisingly fresh and more-ish. Personally I felt that the two desserts went hand in hand, and as the yoghurt was a measly one small scoop, I don’t see why they don’t serve them together as one dessert. Perhaps I’m being greedy.
Including service (which was pretty poor, although they did apologise at the end without being prompted), total bill came to $108 per person. For three courses and given the central location of this new spot, I think that is absolutely pas mal du tout. From what I can see, the dinner menu seems to double in price, although it does offer pancetta wrapped rainbow trout with mint almond dressing which sounds spectacular. My mouth is watering… hmm perhaps I will dine there tomorrow…
2/F 8 Lyndhurst Terrace
Tel: +852 2543 8000
Date visited: Monday 11th April 2011