Irish pub grub
Pitch and Fiddle
Sacramento, CA 95826
It was a full house on Wednesday night at Pitch and Fiddle, a local neighborhood Irish pub hidden on the east side of Watt Avenue and La Riviera Drive. I knew from online photos that the pub could be packed with college kids, but these weren’t college kids, these were middle-aged working-class folks, talking and laughing with such gusto they must have all collectively had a crappy day at work and were now making fun of their bosses.
With no room at the counter, nor the long bar-like tables with stools, nor the coveted half-booths taking up an entire wall, I made do in the standing-room-only crowd, ogling the nice selection of craft beers and Irish whiskeys, while nursing a creamy-cold Guinness. It felt like every single person knew each other.
On my next visit, I arrived early and found the crowds had thinned, but the core gang still held council around the bar, joshing the tolerant bartender, scrolling through their phones and enjoying some pub grub. Now that the din had died down, I could see that although there were tons of photos of undoubtedly Irish-American patrons hanging on the walls, there was also an inordinate amount of sports paraphernalia, not to mention 17 (yes, 17!) flat-screen TVs surrounding the seating areas like some kind of digital thunderdome. All but one TV had sports on—that day, golf. It should’ve been intrusive, but the volume was low and my mind was already on to the task at hand: Irish pub eats.
Pitch and Fiddle offers standard pub fare such as the Big-Ass Burger ($11.50), a juicy half-pound sirloin monster with all the accoutrements, or a giant plate of Fiddle Fries ($9), decked with Jack, bacon and buffalo sauce served with a side of ranch dressing to cool things down (which really works, BTW).
They are a couple of deviations to keep the “Irish” moniker alive. My fave was the Irish Tacos ($10): crunchy-fried shells filled with salty, rich corned beef and topped with a zingy mustard lemon aioli. This dish also found success in the form of Irish Sliders (three for $11) topped with house slaw and served in a plump, Hawaiian sweet rolls.
The Dublin Fish & Chips ($14.50) with its crunchy “secret batter” and the Big-Ass Prawns & Chips ($15.50) with its panko-encrusted texture both met expectations. But they paled when compared to the perfectly fried, Whiskey BBQ-doused chicken wings known as The Best Wings (10 for $12). Another hit was the giant bowl of Mac & Cheese ($12.50): large tortiglioni pasta smothered in Gruyere, white cheddar and Asiago cheeses and plated with a crispy side of garlic toast. Pitch and Fiddle’s weekend menu offers even more dishes of the “Big-Ass” variety such as The Big-Ass Burrito ($11), Breakfast Sandwich ($10), Scramble ($13.50) and Breakfast Burger ($12), plus some good old-fashioned Corned Beef & Hash ($13.50) for the purists out there.
Pitch and Fiddle ends up more sports bar than pub, but there is some serious Irish-American pride going around, as well as friendly staff and patrons who wholeheartedly accepted this non-Irish American into their fold. The food may be no frills, but it is the best version of pub grub: salty, fatty, fried and full of corned beef.