(CNS Foodie): It has been a while since I had last eaten at Fidel’s so I was very much looking forward to sitting down with a pint and some pub grub, as were my companions. The place was fairly empty on the Saturday we were there, but it was admittedly an odd hour, arriving about 3:30pm.
We immediately noticed the great music being streamed with the current song and next selection shown on a nearby TV screen. Even though we represented different generations, we all enjoyed the classic rock. At some point, the footie highlights came on the other screens and so the music was turned down, which was not popular with us but I suspect the rest of the customers were happy with that choice.
Our drinks order was taken right away by our server, who was efficient, friendly and willing to answer questions. We opted for Kilkenny, Magners and Strongbow, all at $7.50 a pint. The Kilkenny proved a beautiful pint, perfectly drawn. I have been bitterly disappointed at other establishments due to unclean lines resulting in undrinkable beer but the Fidel’s staff get full marks in this regard. The draught ciders also went down smoothly. By the way, Fidel’s boasted on their Facebook page last month they are the only establishment serving Magners by the pint. If anyone knows of any other place serving draught Magners, please let us know.
We started with the soup of the day ($5.50), which was vegetable. Our first choice under the “To Share” section was the callaloo jalapeno dip ($9.95), but that was not available. The explanation was that the local callaloo didn’t arrive; Fidel’s did not lose points because they were depending on freshly sourced produce. We settled on the loaded potato poutine ($11).
The soup, which came with slices of very hearty homemade Irish soda bread, was potato-based with cauliflower, parsnips and carrots, pureed to a lovely creamy consistency, though I think it wanted for a bit of zip. The bread proved a delicious vehicle for soaking up the soup.
The poutine was not for the fainthearted or dieting. The very generous portion was indeed perfect for sharing. The homemade fries were topped with cheddar cheese, gravy, crispy bits of bacon, a large dollop of sour cream and scallions. The well-done (in all respects) fries held their own against all those ingredients and did not become a soggy mess. It is possible, though, that the speed at which we ate might have made that an impossibility.
For our mains, one person wanted the lamb vindaloo ($15.95), but the news came back that it was going to require another two hours of cooking. While he was disappointed, to be fair we did ruck up well before the dinner hour and it also meant the food was freshly made. He went with Fidel’s Thai red curry ($11.95) instead, with chicken, onion, peppers and bamboo shoots, opting for rice instead of fries or a combo of both, and topped with papadums, a cross-cultural ingredient that still worked.
We decided the curry did evoke the flavours of a Thai dish, but it lacked any real heat. The red capsicum was a nice addition as well. It seemed harsh to expect the curry to match up to one found in a Thai restaurant and it stood on its own merits, lightly spiced and delicious.
My other companion chose the turkey and brie panini ($13.95), on pressed homemade focaccia bread with a berry compote (cranberry, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry) and served with the previously endorsed fries. It proved an excellent combination of ingredients with the turkey and brie nicely complemented by the homemade compote. Once more the bread was a winner.
I ordered the cottage pie ($13.95), which was full of flavourful minced beef, carrots, parsnips and peas, plus the requisite thick lovely layer of mash on the top with melted cheddar. After overindulging on the poutine, I was unable to finish my mains, but not for lack of trying.
Despite all of us being slowed down by our meals we bravely decided to try dessert. We settled on the sticky toffee pudding ($6.50), a curious choice considering we barely had room left but it was hard to resist the classic concoction served with caramel sauce (possibly the best part of the dish) and vanilla ice cream, and it did not disappoint. We couldn’t finish it but we were unable to part ways with the pudding so boxed it up.
All in all, Fidel’s offered much more than simple pub grub and we left determined to return for the lamb vindaloo, the callaloo and a few more pints.
Gratuity: 15% added to the bill.
Readers’ Review of Fidel Murphy’s Public House:
Category: Golden Spoons Review