IT’S not often a pub is well-known for a dish on its menu, but pretty much everyone who’s eaten out in Sunderland raves about Fitzgerald’s chicken curry.
Despite munching my way round the city, I was yet to try it, so I decided to give it a go.
Joining the taste test was my younger brother, who was visiting from the wilds of Siberia, where he can usually be found messing about on oil rigs.
It was lunchtime and almost every seat in the pub was taken up, which was great to note when so many city centre pubs are struggling.
We managed to find a space in the Chart Room, which has its own bar and is decked out in a nautical theme.
Brother doesn’t go in for bite-sized or fussy meals, so was pleased to see Fitzy’s food menu sticks to the basics.
“I can sense a theme here,” he noted, mulling over options including chicken curry and chips, jacket potato and chicken curry, and chicken curry, rice and chips.
To be fair, the menu also offers other main courses and a range of sandwiches and paninis, but for us it was all about the curry.
The most expensive dishes are around the £7 mark so you could easily enjoy food, drink and change from a fiver.
I trod the healthy path, with jacket potato and chicken curry, while the sibling went all out with rice, chips and yes, chicken curry.
Fitzgerald’s success seems to lie in keeping it simple and has based its success on being a traditional boozer, with real ales, wooden fittings and no blaring music, though it recently enjoyed a makeover.
It has been a regular winner of CAMRA real ale awards and is in the 2011 Good Pub Guide.
Most recently it was named Sunderland and South Tyneside CAMRA branch pub of the year 2012 and draws in those who enjoy a traditional pub experience, with live music, a real ale club, pub quizzes and brewers’ nights.
We stuck to soft drinks, however, as I was returning to work and brother needed a clear head for tackling a spot of shopping.
Portions at Fitzgerald’s are more than generous, but that isn’t a compromise for taste.
Although both our plates were stacked high, the chicken curry was pleasantly mild and packed with chunks of proper chicken.
His chips tasted homemade – I pinched a few to check – and my jacket potato was crispy and served with a sprinkling of salad.
We both cleared our plates and pondered how much easier it would have been if mam had covered our vegetables in Fitzgerald’s chicken curry while we were growing up.
The bill for both of, with a soft drink each, came to £14.43.
Food is served 11am-3pm Monday to Saturday and 12pm-3pm on Sundays.