The Cat and Fiddle
456 Darling St
Balmain, Sydney

The Cat and Fiddle is an institution. Almost everyone's either been here or heard of it. It's been through quite a transformation in recent times with a lot of love and attention - and money - spent on it to bring it back! However, it has fortunately still maintained its Irish roots as well.

There's a front bar for music and of course a drink. It's popular there too - a band was in full swing and the place was packed.

However The Cat and Fiddle also has some surprisingly good food in their much quieter and very spacious restaurant area at the back.

This area has been morphed into a garden oasis that is both comfortable and relaxed chic with brown leather booths along the walls and plenty of greenery everywhere.

After our initial tasty nibbles we moved on to the starters in earnest with the Magners house cured trout.

It looked and tasted great and came with slices of royal toast and was nicely garnished with spring shoots and caper berries and drizzled with fresh lime juice.

We both love nicely cured trout or salmon and this was a ripper.

We then moved on to the Penny cakes - we were keen to try these. Penny cakes are a kind of potato cake (think croquette or even hash brown) made with potato and oats.

They were listed as being served with white pudding, coronation mayonnaise and pickled onion.

These were a surprise packet - nicely crisp on the outside and soft and warm inside

Mlady grew up in England so once she spotted the pickled egg on the menu it was always going to be a must to try - a chance to walk down memory lane!

The pickled egg came came with black pudding, soda bread, fig whiskey and pear.

It was again a decent sized serving and fortunately Mlady said it lived up to her hopes and expectations - thank goodness!

As many will know by now, Mlady often heads towards seafood - particularly fish - for her main course choices.

The mint crusted salmon sounded great straight away and turned out to live up to our expectations.

It came with charred fennel, roast chickpeas and orange blossom and was another beautifully presented dish with flavours to match.

The cider poached corned beef was another impressively presented dish - served in a stack of colourful ingredients piled high in the middle of the plate.

It came with fried colcannon - an Irish combination mashed potato - onion pickle, spring beans and pea puree.

The beef was beautifully poached and the subtle cider flavour did come through nicely.

I love a good lamb dish.

The grilled lamb loin at The Cat and Fiddle also comes with a serving of crispy lamb belly as well - lamb heaven!

It is served with soft mint, spring peas, beetroot and poached fig. The lamb was perfect - medium rare, juicy and tender. It also looked great - presentation here is certainly another highlight, on top of the taste of the food!

You just have to save space for dessert here - they were all so impressive!

The Granny Smith was best described as a deconstructed delight.

It was sugar butter crisps, apple, short crumble and cinnamon ice cream with a pretty floral garnish on top.

It was delicate, crisp, fresh and oh so tasty.

Of course it probably wasn't a total surprise to find a dessert with Guinnesss in it!

The Guinness chocolate cheese cake was served with Irish toffee, oat crunch, cocoa sorbet and raspberry.

It was a great mix of different flavours, colours and textures that combined so well into a great dessert. We loved it.

The Cat and Fiddle is a surprise packet. It has a lovely garden oasis restaurant inside with some quite impressive food on offer.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of The Cat and Fiddle. Thanks to Chef Padraic Kielty - who was once Woody Harrelson's personal chef - for his lovely food. Special thanks to Monique Doyle for inviting and for joining us. The Doyle family bought the Cat and Fiddle in 2013 and have done an amazing job bringing it back to life.

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