There’s no shortage of pubs in Paddington and Woollahra, but few possess the old-world charms of the Lord Dudley. This vast, red brick hotel looks more like a British country manor than an Inner East establishment, and the vibe is similarly relaxed. Out on Quarry Street locals and their faithful hounds get a solid lean on with a pint of Old Speckled Hen in hand.
If it’s a bit nippy for alfresco boozing, it’s time to battle for seats as close to the proper wood fire as you can get. This is also the spot to play a Scrabble, Jenga, and Connect 4 while you wait for one of their pies that take 25 minutes to bake to golden brown. If a serve of juicy, slow-cooked beef in a pastry hat doesn’t move you, go for the classics – steak and chips, burgers, bangers and mash.
The cosy, wood-panelled room that for the sake of this review we will call the living room is great for settling into for the long haul, but we’re also big fans of claiming a bar stool and bending the elbow with a Guinness. This may look like an old-fashioned watering hole inspired by the best of the Motherland, but its attitude to beer embraces the new with half a dozen craft taps offering Stone and Wood, Badlands, Murray’s, Young Henrys, Lord Nelson and Yulli’s brews.
Downstairs, the restaurant is still strung with hanging plants and the private dining room’s greatest feature is unequivocally the fish tank built into the wall, and up on the first floor it’s like the land of lost, comfy couches. But for convivial good times, sink some beers beneath the twinkle of the beer mugs hanging from the bar and keep your other hand busy with salty snacks kept in swing-top jars behind the counter.
There’s nothing new or particularly shiny about the Dudley. It boasts the more gentle gleam of light hitting novelty tankards and framed Guinness cartoons. The dark timber bar is sturdy and reassuring, the carpet is forgiving of wobbly hands, there’s plenty of dark corners for canoodling or plotting and the soundtrack can go from the Spice Girls to Paul Simon in a single bound. How could anyone not have a soft spot for this old boozer?