Fun and games at Fiddlesticks
Read the review article here.
The big, good-natured group of contractors in T-shirts and jeans chat happily, English and Irish accents floating across from a long table loaded up with mostly steak mains, plus an extra side each of fries, which at Fiddlesticks come in dinky wooden boxes with an open lid that holds dinky sauce containers.
Elsewhere a couple of solo diners, women, gaze carefully into middle distance. So impressive they are not doing that buried-in-a-book or phone thing.
Closer to the bar, a table of women are getting louder and happier, the occasional shriek now as the drinks flow. Yes, all sorts have ended up at a packed Fiddlesticks on a balmy weekday night.
We hadn’t been for several years but good memories, a surprisingly tasty breakfast one day, and positive comments from others made it seem an increasingly good idea to go back.
Fiddlesticks didn’t disappoint. The welcome’s fast and friendly – they don’t leave you staring around trying to catch an eye. The on-to-it staff are engaging and obviously properly prepared about what’s on offer. That drinks list is huge. The meals deliver nice surprises.
It’s a friendly, buzzy place of the type that is a lot about a good time and drinks. Even better is the effort the kitchen puts into its dishes.
Take those fries, which I didn’t have by the way. The wooden box contraption, the ketchup and Japanese mayonnaise sauces – it just made me smile, and not just for the burly contractors’ raised eyebrows.
Of what we did have, the most memorable was a pork neck starter. This was all gimmick but it tasted so good.
Pork neck meat had been “sous-vided” into just about rillette consistency and was full of slightly spicy sweet caramel juices. On top was pig skin grated so finely it was like fluffy candy floss, nasturtium flowers and leaves garnished the plate and lotus root crackers waited for some pork to be spread on them.
Among the mains, I suspect more sous vide treatment with the fall-apart boneless lamb shoulder. This dish had a gentle Indian treatment – not the lamb, but the accompaniments with an orange tandoori cauliflower puree, chutney pickles, little fried cubes of paneer (cheese), a zing of coriander. It worked.
But a chicken main with spinach puree for a sauce and too-nuggety spinach gnocchi didn’t excite, even if the chicken skin crackling was a treat. We wanted a meaty jus.
Fiddlesticks has a small dessert lineup but they are good. The Salted Caramel Delice was everything the ebullient waitress with hands crossed over her heart had promised.
Lots of salty caramel sauce, blobs of thick sweet passionfruit sauce, delice, chocolate pistachio wafers, popcorn and a scoop of passionfruit icecream offered a glorious ending.
A deconstructed “apple shortcake” came with caramel filo pastry shards, apple, the cake base, gingernut crumbs and gingernut icecream arrayed across the plate and drizzled with thick apple juice. It was as good as that reads.
Plenty other oddities remain to be explored on the menu and I’m pretty sure it won’t be another two years before we are back.
Where: 48 Worcester Blvd
When: dinner is daily from 5pm
Cost: starters up to $16; mains up to $34, desserts up to $17
Upside: pork neck starter
Downside: spinach gnocchi