Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fiddler's Hearth Public House

Occasionally you find yourself in a restaurant that is more than just a meal, it is an experience; with the worn tables, old church pews, and mismatched chairs, Fiddler's Hearth in downtown South Bend is just that, an experience. The roaring fire, invitation to sit with and meet strangers, and family crests on the wall will have you feeling like you have stepped across the ocean and in to a Celtic pub. We chose a corner booth so as to box in our toddler, skipped the extensive beer list, and ordered the pub pretzels with Welsh rarebit cheese sauce to hold us over until we ordered lunch, and for $6 they did the trick. The pretzels were pretty non traditional, no folded shape, deep brown crust, or giant pieces of rock salt, just simple, homemade, golden sticks that were lightly salted and delicious; my hubby reports that the cheese was "a little different," but he dipped every bite of his two pretzel sticks in it, so I don't think that different was a bad thing, plus he loves cheese. Not only is my hubby a sucker for cheese, he is also a sucker for fresh seafood, so it didn't take him long to settle on the Molly Malone stew, a tomato and white wine broth for $12 that was chock full of large shrimp, scallops, muscles, cod, crab, clams, mushrooms, and barley, served with a crusty slab of bread that had a hint of what we suspected was ginger. He described the broth as light, was amazed at the amount of seafood that filled his large bowl, and scowled when I suggested he share a bite with the little man...I can only assume that meant is was too good to even give up one bite.
I merely had to look at the menu to confirm they had fish and chips before I ordered, because let's face it, it's a Celtic pub, how could they not? I chose the three piece order for $8 so as not to make a glutton of myself, but frankly I would have eaten the fourth piece if I had ordered the larger size. I was a little bit giddy when they brought my lunch out wrapped in a local newspaper instead of on a plate.
I opened my paper to find three ample pieces of golden fried cod and a mess of hand cut chips (French fries on this continent), they were on the greasy side, but I suspect that has to do with being put straight into the brown paper and then newspaper. The fish was cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, not to mention cod is a fantastic fish to fry because it flakes into these big chunky pieces, that make it feel all the more hearty. The chips, like any hand cut potato were delicious, that is the great thing about fries you don't have to do much except cut, fry, salt, and eat.
While my hubby finished his stew, the little man and I went for a walk (after about 15 minutes of sitting he gets restless), checked out the pictures of Irish writers and Scotsmen in kilts throwing poles, and were pleased to discover a fantastic family friendly corner stacked to the brim with kids toys, board games, and books. The only regret about our visit was that we weren't there when they had live Celtic music, otherwise we were completely pleased with Fiddler's Hearth from the delicious food to the family friendly environment.

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