Publican Tim Condon purchased this venue as Monkey Bar back in March, and restored the hotel’s original name, The Cricketers Arms. “There’s been lots of change,” says Condon, who is responsible for refurbishing Rozelle’s The Three Weeds and Balmain’s The Riverview, and who currently operates the East Village Hotel, also in Balmain.
“Food hasn’t been a focus here before and we’ve turned that on its head. We’ve basically divided the venue in half. We wanted to return the pub to its original roots of being a good local Balmain pub, but rather than integrate the food with the pub, we created a different venue in the backstreets,” says Condon. One Ford Street is the adjoining eatery and has a a separate entrance to Cricketers Arms. Chef Sam Bennett (previously of Bourke Street Bakery, Glebe Point Diner and Fix St. James) is in the kitchen. He recently returned from an inspiring working trip to Italy. The menu focuses on the honest, seasonal and produce-driven food of Italy, favouring handmade pasta, bread and cured meats.
“I really love a casual atmosphere and delivering quality at the same time,” says Condon. “It’s all done in-house, the kitchen is open and there’s a theatre to the whole thing. In the Italian style, dishes are designed to share, especially our sharing menu, which includes options that aren’t necessarily on the [regular] menu. With that, you get what you get, just like going to your nonna’s house.”
Dishes include lamb T-bones with fregola salad, or tiger prawns with sugar snaps and caramelle. Front of house will be managed by Fabio Dore (previously Popolo) and who has also curated the list of Italian wines and locally produced Italian varietals. For that Mediterranean garden feel there’s a pergola in the greenery-filled courtyard, as well as a private outdoor dining room.
One Ford Street
1 Ford Street, Balmain (behind the Cricketers Arms Hotel)
(02) 9818 4232
Wed & Thu 6pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–4pm, 6pm–11pm