When friends from our previous life (i.e. pre kidlet days) call us to organise a pub lunch on a weekend, we always travel to them in the lower north shore/inner west/eastern suburbs of Sydney. See that's where the cool pubs are, that serve the fancy pants pub food. Out here in suburbia we do indeed have some excellent pubs, but they aren't necessarily all that sophisticated. However now that we have discovered The Fiddler, we are going to start making them come to us because this is one classy hotel, that serves up some great pub grub and is oh so kid friendly!
The Fiddler has been given a serious nip and tuck of late. Once upon a time it had a bit of a bad reputation but since the plastic surgeon moved in and smoothed out all of the wrinkles via some lovely interior design and implementing a tasty new menu, The Fiddler now looks like it could belong in the Hemmes stable of hotels. Muted green colours, white subway tiling, verdant green plants, black and white stripy umbrellas, as well as weather-boards and corrugated iron make for a design style that I call Australian chic.
There are different areas where you can sit to eat or drink at your leisure at The Fiddler. We entered via The Courtyard and here there are tables of all different sizes under the beautiful old palm trees. The access is very easy for those of you have prams and there are loads of high chairs available. This is where we sat right in front of the kitchen. There is also the lovely Verandah which is where one can do High Tea (kids included); then there is the Sports area down from the kitchen right in front of the big TV that has a ping pong table that kids can use at any time. Another area is called The Irish - this is the original pub that has been serving up ale since 1826 and it literally looks like it has been transported direct from Tipperary.
I'm presuming all of the plants around the pub look so verdant because they are watered so often by some of The Fiddler's youngest patrons. Just near the kitchen is a wall of brightly coloured watering cans that can be filled up from the water taps below them. Kids can either water the hanging herb garden that is next to it or any of the plants that are around the pub. My tip is to fill a can up for your kids when you first arrive, and let them water so that you can have a moment's peace to read through the menu.
Children have their very own menu at The Fiddler and it doubles as a chatterbox (between you and me, we had to google how to make it), I suppose you can call it craft in the pub! Anyway the boys chose the Mini Fiddler Dog and the Beef Cheese Burger. When you order the meals you are given vouchers for a free soft drink and a free ice cream for them. The kids soft drink came in a disposable plastic cup - this scores a big fat tick from me. I hate it when you order a kids soft drink when you go out and it comes in a glass, as you end up spending your whole meal making sure said glass does not get knocked over and shatter into a million little pieces over the floor.
The kids meals were a really decent size - the burger was like a little slider and made out of wagyu (not that most kids would have a clue what that is). The dog was served in a little cocktail roll with tomato sauce and was devoured in seconds by my 6 year old. The ice cream comes in a little tub with a spoon and on the kitchen bench you will find toppings that you squirt over it. For $8 and $9 these were great value meals. And they were served on melamine plates - every single little detail which makes life easier eating out with kids has been thought of at The Fiddler.
The main menu has all of traditional pub favourites but just done in that gastro pub way. You will find all of the current food trends such as pulled pork, quinoa and panko crumbs on the menu in some form or another. The pulled pork bun was extremely filling and full of perfectly braised shoulder meat, slaw & chilli mayo. A big serve of crunchy chips came on the side. Likewise the beer battered fish and chips was also filling as it was so large in size - 3 huge flathead fillets came with a mound of chips and home made tartare. There is a good selection of salads, pizzas, burgers and seafood on offer as well as gluten free and vegetarian options.
Thankfully The Fiddler has a decent wine list, it's sometimes a bit difficult to get anything other than a glass of rough red in suburban pubs. However at The Fiddler you can have everything from a glass of French bubbles to a crisp NZ sav blanc. If you're not a wino then the range of cocktails is outstanding as it the selection of craft beers on tap. They even make milkshakes, smoothies and soda floats - so all drinking palates are catered for.
For some reason we decided to order dessert, something we rarely do at lunch time. I was going to order the churros with dipping chocolate but then I was convinced by the lovely lass who took my order to order the special of the day - the pretzel with pots of dark and white chocolate. To be honest it didn't rock my world, I should have stuck with the churros. It was the pretzel - I thought it may have been crunchy, but it wasn't. Instead it was dense and bland and as a result it was a bit underwhelming.
After drinking a bit too much lemonade the boys required a pit stop. I found the toilets in The Irish section, and although they are in need of a bit of a nip and tuck they are perfectly sufficient because they have a family room where you can feed your baby in private, a baby change table and there is even a toddler toilet in the handicapped loo - so that gets a big tick from me again. After the pit stop we discovered a confessional just outside the loo (I suppose you can pop in there if got up to something a wee bit naughty whilst using the amenities) and then we had a quick wander through the nooks and crannies of The Irish and then that's when we discovered the playground! And of course this is where all the families were sitting.
The large and fully secure playground is on the northern side of The Irish. There are quite a few tables up here and to order your meal, you just pop down to the kitchen and give them your table number and they will bring your meal up to you. A beautiful old peppercorn tree is in the middle of the playground providing some shade and there are also sun sails as well. The playground is probably most suitable for younger kids and the equipment is a wee bit dated. However I have read somewhere that it too is due for a nip and tuck towards the end of the year, so I shall keep you updated on when that happens.
I love that The Fiddler is a little bit glam. I love that The Fiddler is so child friendly. I love that both regular patrons and families can co exist because there are enough different spaces within the hotel for one to escape the other. And above all, I love that The Fiddler is out in the "boonies" and that as a result our Etag doesn't get a work out going to some of those trendier suburbs on the other side of town x
Cnr Commercial & Windsor Rds, Rouse Hill NSW
Open 7 days from 10am