“You build an Irish bar, and they come,” laughs Pub Manager Natasha Coster. She’s not wrong – the bar is jumping, with an unnatural conglomeration of natural redheads (all female). What’s kind of remarkable is this pub is on Norton Street, Leichhardt – a dining strip that could be accused of Italian nepotism. As we chat, at the next table a guitar and fiddle player slide into playing with a relaxed informality that belies them being a band. I’m coaxed into a Kilkenny Irish Beer ($8.50): “Aussies who don’t like Guinness tend to like it.” Natasha isn’t wrong, so I let myself be guided into a companion meal – Steak and Guinness Pie ($18). The generous, golden-domed pie, topped with mash and mushy peas, is a popular for a reason, and suits my Guinness-for-beginners ale. As a second fiddle joins the unfolding musical collaboration I find myself smiling, it’s already (so soon in its evolution) that kind of pub. The rest of the menu shows you the roots of traditional Aussie cooking – from moist Corned Beef ($22) with more creamy mash, peas and white sauce; to a plump trio of Crab Cakes ($16) with lemon and dill aioli – it’s the kind of stuff my Mum used to trot out for tea.
PJ Gallaghers Leichhardt
1 Norton Street, Leichhardt
Ph: (02) 9560 3322 pjsleichhardt.com.au
Irish, Pub Bistro $$-$$$