By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
One Ford Street opened on Wednesday night as an adjoining restaurant to Tim Condon’s Cricketer’s Arms Hotel in Balmain.
Condon purchased the hotel and eatery site in mid-March – then known as Le Pub – and restored it to its original moniker of Cricketer’s Arms, amid a thorough refurbishment.
“I knew it as Cricketer’s Arms 20-odd years ago, when it was a good, local pub for sports and drinking. I wanted to bring the pub itself back to a traditional corner pub with dart boards etc. We still wanted to have a good food offering so we opened the restaurant next door,” Condon explains.
One Ford Street offers Italian cuisine in an intimate setting, seating a maximum of 50 people in a minimally decorated space of pale blond wooden walls and polished concrete flooring. Head Chef Sam Bennett brings plenty of experience with him, having previously worked at Bourke Street Bakery, Glebe Point Diner and Fix St James. The menu will focus on simple, high-quality Italian foods, such as homemade pastas, cured meats and pickled olives.
Tim Condon is regarded as an expert in operating successful gastropubs, having previously refurbished and operated The Three Weeds in Rozelle and The Riverview Hotel in Balmain. He also runs the East Village Hotel – a favourite among Balmain locals. When asked about the importance of high-quality food offering in pubs, he suggested that it was dependant on the market.
“I have been in the Balmain market a long time. That specific market was perhaps not very demanding of good food say twenty years ago, but I’d say in the last ten years that specific market has become interested in a good level of food.
“There are a lot of small bars and restaurants in Balmain, so One Ford Street was designed to compete in that market. It’s relaxed and has a feminine element to it that balances out the blokiness of the Cricketer’s Arms.”
Condon suggested that opening the restaurant was not too different from opening a pub in most respects, but concedes that he was lucky to have his chef on board early on. When asked if he would consider opening any more restaurants in the future, Condon had a little chuckle before answering.
“I think I’d be looking for a new wife if I did! I think this will do me for now. Time will tell.”