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Jessie’s Pub – the reinvented classic with excellent food and 1 seriously hot dish!

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

The reinvented old-time classic bar, Jessie’s Pub has been given a new lease of life with excellent results.

There were a few places like the old Jessie’s Pub. It was one of those places you could go for a beer and snack, before heading down the road for a night of shenanigans. This was not yet the era when pub menus included gourmet burgers or other fancy foods. Food selection was restricted, at most, to some traditional ‘Hobz biz-zejt’, and a few water biscuits with cheese. This was ‘the place that never closed‘.

Jessie's Pub interior
Jessie’s Pub, fully refurbished

Nowadays things are different. Good food and pubs go hand in hand. On the islands, we now have some great places offering some great grub. The old Jessie’s Bar has been given a new lease of life in recent years, following a takeover from the original owners. Jessie’s still provides drinks and bites, but 2020 style.

Happily, we recently popped into Jessie’s Pub for lunch. What we found was a nicely decorated, shiny pub, which has managed to retain some of the charm of its predecessor. The interior combines a mix of dining space in the central part, with high tables and benches on the sides.

Jessie's Pub facade
Jessie’s Pub in Ta’ l-Ibraġ

This is not your usual dimly lit and moody pub with air dingy from the smell of ale. This is what you might call a pub with a touch of grub. By the time we arrived, around late afternoon, the place was half full with earlier Sunday diners already on their way to dessert. Their smiling faces looked promising. The food menu is short but to the point. No fancy stuff here, but all the pub essentials like fish and chips (€11.95), steak and ale stew (€13.25), and bangers and mash (€11.80).

Simply because we were hungry and fancied a bit of everything (see what I did there?), we focused on the ‘pub bites’. First on the list were the Wings on Fire (€6.50), which cautioned ordering ‘at your own risk’. These consisted of chicken wings, marinated in Habanero chili jam, served with sour cream.

Jessie's Pub chicken wings
Very spicy chicken wings

Upon ordering, a very well-meaning and caring staff member cautioned again and again that this was very, very hot stuff. He seemed genuinely concerned at the choice, so much so that he insisted on, at least, bringing me a glass of milk.

We thought he was joking, but he really did bring me a glass of (full fat, thank goodness) milk with the food. In my lifetime, I had tried spicy food and enjoyed it, but this was on another level.

If you are not used to spicy food or worse, have a low tolerance to it, I suggest you stay away. This might actually kill you (we doubt the guys at Jessie’s Pub want that liability). After the first bite, I thought it was not ‘that bad’, but after a couple of seconds, extreme heat engulfed my taste buds.

Jessie's Pub fries
Chips, cheese and gravy

This was so fast I could barely utter the words ‘Oh my gawd’. Considering how spicy the food was, the portion was huge. That glass of milk looked like salvation now.

We were told by the staff at Jessie’s Pub that these chicken wings were even spicier in the past. Eventually, the chef had to tone down the spice in the sauce recipe because of the constant complaints the guys at Jessie’s Pub were getting.

In case you are asking yourself if I managed to eat the whole portion (Charlene wasn’t too keen to try), no I didn’t. In all probability, I will never try this again. For me, one challenge was enough, but if you fancy the spicy stuff, it is one of those dishes you should try at least once in your lifetime.

The ‘smoked paprika chicken goujons’ (€7.30) consisted of deep-fried chicken strips marinated in smoked paprika and coated in breadcrumbs, served with sweet BBQ sauce and fries. The chicken bits were a bit dry but coated well enough to satisfy the need for some crunch and spice which usually come with drinking beer.

Jessie's Pub chicken goujons
Smoked paprika chicken goujons

The BBQ sauce was way too sweet for my taste, but the amount of fries that came with it was abundant, to say the least. As for the chips, cheese, and gravy (€4.50), the mix had the right amount of each and was overall very pleasing.

As for the Sunday roast (€17.95), this was a dish good enough to tickle the most nostalgic of taste buds. Apart from a considerable amount of meat presented on the plate, the dish included one Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, and peas.

Jessie's Pub Sunday roast
Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding

The Yorkshire pudding was heavily textured, whilst the roast was covered in a bit too much gravy for my taste. Other than that though, the meat was moist and tender and everything you would look for in a good roast, whilst the potatoes were perfectly cooked.

Jessie’s Pub is the modern version of the old Jessie’s bar, having managed to retain that sense of a ‘family bar’ place. The place has charm, and we found ourselves wanting to visit again. Sunday afternoon, a beer and some well-made grub. The simple things in life are the best.


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