If you’re hungry, thirsty and enjoy history, the Y&J pub (Young & Jackson) is just right for you. It sits just across Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street train station with the Yarra river running behind it, and the beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral built in the 1880’s.
On the corner of Swanson and Flinders street, with shopping all around too, it’s hard to miss. The nice part about Melbourne is that much of the ‘old stuff’ has been preserved – that’s where the history bit of the Y&J comes in.
The Young & Jackson started as the Princes Bridge Hotel (since the bridge across the Yarra is a few steps away) in 1861. Later, in 1875 a pair of miners who came to Melbourne from Dublin during the gold-rush (and found their fortune), Henry Figsby Young and Thomas Joshua Jackson decided to diversify their investment (if they lived now, that’s what they’d say). The proud new owners re-named the place, the Young and Jackson Hotel.
Photos of the early entrepreneurs as well as other memorabilia are on display just as you enter the building. It’s just after the staircase and before the entrance to the pub – so if you like some free history, it’s there!
Up the stairs, and you get to meet Chloe. The painting of the nude young lady (Chloe) done by Jules Joseph Lefebvre (leferb) first went on display in Paris in the same year Y&J came to be, 1875. It’s not clear just when the painting was done of the young lady (whose real name is Marie, and who apparently poisoned herself over unrequited love for the artist who married her sister instead !) but it found its way (after gracing exhibitions) to the art collection of Young who purchased it 1909. It was deemed too scandalous for public display and graced the room upstairs instead.
For the Thirsty
This pub is where the first Forster’s beer was served. Incidentally, the first licensee of then-Princes Bridge Hotel was John. P Toohey -the same family from whom the other famous Aussie beer ‘Tooheys’ comes from.
Keeping to the tradition of Aussie beer serving, the Y&J now offers its range of craft beer that’s really good. There are 30 taps. But go for the house brews such as the Y&J Naked Ale which is a pale ale that is dry, ‘meaty’ but not malty. A very tasty, cloudy golden beer.
The Classic Ale offers a more fresh tasting. Crisp and a contrast to the Naked Ale. Company3.3 who doesn’t like “too much bubbles” was happy with the Classic. The beers pair very well with the pub grub which is a few notches above the usual pub fare.
For the Hungry
This is a nice place for dinner. Skip the pub proper unless you like live music, and head upstairs if you prefer it genteel or have a large group (there’s a rooftop area too).
Nice for one or a group of four (max) is the dining-pub area called the cafe, just to the left of the entrance. Tables are well-spaced and service is attentive.
The menu is large enough to cater to all tastes and appetites. Look out for the board specials too. We had the premium burger which was not too dry, not too large, and with very good onion rings. There was a serving also of the chicken parmigiana – which was ok – and very generous and tasty steak sandwich. Yes, go for the red meats!
The bill was just under A$100 for three.
The Young & Jackson
Cnr Swanston & Flinders Sts, Melbourne, VIC, 3000. Tel: 03 9650 3884