The last time I was at The Paddington Arms was probably one I don’t care to remember. The back end of a Hen’s Night I think… smokey dance floor, one-too-many vodkas, rough crowd, time to go home.
Tonight it’s a decent hour, I’m sober, and we’re here for dinner; post-visit to the Love Vintage clothing fair and pre-movies. Old frocks, pub food and Taylor Kitsch - a quiet Friday night for B2B and I doesn’t get much better!How many words can you spell? Might be a fun game after a few too many drinks…
As we admire the new fit out, out waiter admits he never experience the Arms of old but says there’s still the odd past-midnight-patron (the place is currently open for late-night dining until 1am) that comes looking for that smokey dance floor, unaware that in it’s place is a smart sunken dining room, complete with olive tree and stuffed pheasant centrepiece.
The menu reads very similar to that of the Four in Hand, naturally now that the head chef of the two-hatted restaurant, Colin Fassnidge, together with one of his old sous chefs, Neil Thompson have taken the reins and re-launched it in December last year.
Promoting nose to tail eating, with a more casual, relaxed feel, the menu includes things like: Welsh rarebit ‘cheese on toast’; Black pudding, crumbed pork with apple sauce; Braised lamb shoulder with sorrel and apple juice; Ploughman’s lunch.
“It’s a bar, so it’s bar good, but it’s going to be better quality bar food. Neil’s English so he’s going to have a little bit more of an English input, but it will be the same nose to tail cooking,” Fassinidge said.We’ve decided to share some starters with the Seared bonito with pickled cucumbers, seaweed and radish ($20) and Shaved fennel, feta, pea and watermelon salad ($12). I’d like to try the Roast bone marrow with celeriac remoulade and grilled bread ($14) but B2B isn’t a fan.
The bonito, with a meaty texture like tuna but paler in colour, has been seared every so slightly and is lovely with little dollops with wasabi mayo and crunchy pickled cucumber. The fennel, feta, pea and watermelon salad is light and refreshing.
The place is slowly starting to buzz as the tables and booths around us fill up with families here for a quick and easy meal, couples cosying up with a little more time to pour over a few wines and friends who graze on some of the finer menu options.
B2B already has her heart set on “The Arms” dog with hot sauce and chips ($16), so I figure if she’s doing a hot dog, I better do the hamburger; House made beef burger with grated horseradish, onion relish and chips ($20).
I do love a good burger and this one certainly has plate appeal, as does the dog. It’s tasty even if a little on the salty side. I don’t understand the need for cucumber on burgers though - beetroot, absolutely; pineapple, definitely not; egg, is it’s called for, but cucumber, I just don’t see the point. B2B gives me a bite of her hot dog and I’m pleasantly suprised – that’s some good hot sauce. We can’t get enough of the crunchy chips with spicy mayo sauce (mad for chips and mayo).
“Are you the Squealing Pig?” our waiter asks me. He’s referring to another glass of wine; Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough NZ ($10/glass).
No dessert, because it’s choc tops at the movies… that we’re now running late for. We’re off to see John Carter and yes, I’m aware it’s being hailed as the biggest box office flop in the Disney studio history – but we have two very good reasons for going; Taylor Kitsch in 3D and free tickets.
The Paddington Arms – 384 Oxford Street, Paddington NSW 2021 - (02) 9360 9668