Halfway down Katoomba Street, tucked away, in a basement is Katoomba's newest feel-good eatery, Aunty Jack's Restaurant and Bar; serving up classic aussie fare like burgers, sangas, milkshakes and spiders - including an adult's only version.
It's more like walking into your grandma's living room, (which is where much of the decor is from) without the musty smells.
It's the perfect place to go when you just feel like relaxing on the couch. Image by Jade Jackson.
The first thing you'll recognise is the mustard-brown suede lounge with the multi-coloured crotchet blankets hanging over the back. A permanent fixture of every grandparents house. The second thing you'll notice is the decorative wooden trinket box, picked up on a cruise to Hong Kong. Lastly, it's the tea-spoon collection hanging up, next to the souvineer tea towel featuring birds of Queensland, that will send you through a time-warp.
Aunty Jack's retro decor is partly made up of family heirlooms. Image by Jade Jackson.
With the multiple antique and second-hand shops of Katoomba, Auntie Jack's feels like it's always belonged there. It's owner Siany is originally from the Blue Mountains, and along with her partner Dwayne, they ran multiple restaurants in Melbourne for many years, including C.H James. Aunty Jack's is a culmination of everything the hospitality scene has been missing; quick and easy dining, open all day - from lunch to dinner, with an in-house bar.
80's music is all part of the experience. Image by Jade Jackson.
According to owner Siany, "the idea of setting up a restaurant which felt like being at home, had been brewing with us for sometime, and when the space became available in Katoomba, (it's located where Pancakes in the Rocks was), we nabbed the opportunity to come back home, and create our dream dining experience."
The menu is simple, and from a time when cooking shows were only found in a short segment on late morning television, including SPAM.
I ordered the Itty-Bitty-Schnitty-Burger - $15.50, along with a side order of Chips with chicken salt - $7.50, and a coffee. Like The Local Nomad, Aunty Jack's uses Cassiopeia Coffee beans, roasted locally in Katoomba.
Itty-Bitty-Schnitty Burger and chips with chicken salt. Image by Jade Jackson.
The burger consisted of three golden crispy tenderloins, topped with mayonnaise, on a bed of pickles, lettuce and home-made coleslaw; stacked inside a warm-glistening bun. Rarely does a burger constitute as eating healthily, but with the greenery on this one, I felt somewhat less guilty. In replicating 'food that mum used to make', with their Itty-Bitty-Schnitty burger, they've done even better (sorry mum!).
Home style cooking is what you'll find at Aunty Jack's in Katoomba. Image by Jade Jackson.
The chips were exceptional. I can't recall the last time I had fries that were so firm and crunchy, but surprisingly weren't greasy. They were dusted with a hint of chicken salt, rather than a smothering, which is my preference.
The burgers and sandwiches come without any sides, (though realistically it would be filling enough, on it's own), but if you can't have a burger without chips, a bowl would be big enough to share between two.
Other menu items include a corned beef roll, Chicken Waldorf Sandwich, and the Aussie Meatloaf Burger. For the vegetarians there's BBQ Rice Salad, Mum's tangy Coleslaw, and the Mini Cob Bread Dip.
Crispy chips with chicken salt is a certain crowd pleaser. Image by Jade Jackson.
There's a wide variety of seating options, including comfortable booths, dining tables, couches, and bar stools, and outdoor seating, for those rare occaisions when it's warm enough to eat in the sunshine.
Get cosy in a booth at Aunty Jack's. Image by Jade Jackson.
Click on any of the tracks below, to get a feel of what you'll likely be hearing whilst dining at Aunty Jack's. If the samples are not enough, you can hear all the hits of the eighties, non-stop (free for three months) via Apple Music.
The nostalgic menu at Aunty Jack's. Image by Jade Jackson.
Their desert menu consists of pavlova, banana split (for two) or cheesecake. If you can't fit a full desert, then grab a chocolate crackle or Honeyjoy for $1.50 on your way out, instantly bringing back memories of school fete's and birthday parties.
Eating at Aunty Jack's is not just going out for a meal, it's being transported to a different era; cheaper (and more reliable) than going for a ride in a Delorean DMC-12. As you sit in a booth, sipping on a lime-spider, listening to 80's music, surrounded by retro decor - you'll be taken back, before President Trump, before Global Warming, before exorbitant house prices; when BMX Bandits and The Goonies were hollywood blockbusters and Choose Your Own Adventure books were mandatory, summer reading.
Chocolate crackles and honeyjoys are an easy and cheap take-home dessert. Image by Jade Jackson.
Once I'd ordered, everything arrived in less than ten minutes. Both Siany and Dwayne checked up on me, during the meal, and after to make sure everything was okay, and to see if there was anything else I required.
What I enjoyed most about Aunty Jack's (besides the fantastic food) was everything seemed totally familiar, like I'd been there a hundred times before. It's the kind of place you could easily while away an afternoon playing games (they had Boggle, Chess, Backgammon and UNO), eating snacks and drinking milkshakes.
Aunty Jack's is the relaxing and homely restaurant Katoomba desperately needed, filling the gap other restaurants leave out. Whether you're after a quick bite to eat, a coffee catch-up with friends, or a relaxing post bushwalk meal and drink, it fulfills all requirements.
Oh and yes, they do have a Pac-Man gaming table!
Grab a lime-spider and while away the afternoon on Pac-Man, at Aunty Jack's Restaurant and Bar. Image by Jade Jackson.
Aunty Jack's Restaurant and Bar is at 12/122 Katoomba St, Katoomba. They are currently open Wednesday to Saturday 12pm to 8:30pm and Sunday 12pm to 5pm. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. Pending demand, they may alter their hours in the future.
There is limited free parking on Katoomba St, and it's a short 5 minute walk from katoomba train station. They accept cash and EFTPOS. You can reserve a table online.