People perch on bar stools with a Philly cheesesteak in one hand and a beer in the other. Blues plays on the stereo. An old TV turned fish-tank sits on the bar.
Opening late 2013, in what used to be Gertrude’s Brown Couch, The Catfish is named for an old blues song. Like the blues, it’s unpretentious and easy-going.
Beer is a big focus, with eight taps and a fridge full of favourites. Small, local breweries see a lot of support through the rotating taps. The wine is almost all Victorian. The rise of Australian spirit producers means the spirits are increasingly local, too.
With low ceilings, it feels like you’ve walked into a secret cave. Upstairs is more spacious. There’s plenty of seating, a pool table and bands and DJs playing every night from Wednesday to Sunday.
The space is shared by Sparrow's Philly Cheesesteaks. For the uninitiated, that’s a crusty baguette filled with thinly sliced beef and melted cheese. Traditional toppings include fried onions, mushroom and chilli. The iconic dish always leads to debates of authenticity. Apparently Sparrow’s regularly get the thumbs-up from visiting Philadelphians.
Non-traditional variations include Pizza Steak, Bourbon Bacon or Korean Bulgogi. It’s hard to go past the classic and maybe a side of wings for good measure. The Vegetarian, with smoked tofu, is also an excellent option.