If you want to pinpoint the exact moment that Oxford Street in Paddington got its groove back, it was when ex-Momofuku chef Ben Greeno threaded the first lot of Bannockburn free-range chickens onto the newly installed rotisserie at the Paddington.
Those brined chooks are the major reason there’s a waiting list at this schmicked-up pub opposite the Paddington United Church – all the foams, foraged treats and fusion in Sydney seemingly can’t beat a juicy piece of chicken with sticky, golden-brown skin for crowd appeal. And the best news of all is it isn’t going to bankrupt you to get it. A mere $39 covers a whole bird, gravy, fries and a bowl of crisp cos leaves liberally salted and dressed in diced onion and chives for flavour you can see.
You can try for a seat in one of the designated dining rooms – up the back half of the ground floor by the open kitchen, or upstairs – but this is, at its heart, a pub. We have better luck scouting for a seat in the public bar up the front or in the cocktail bar upstairs.
If all you want to do is sink pints of Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Heineken and watch the world go by, this is an extremely good looking place to do it. They’ve ticked all the boxes for a high-end pub so expect lots of white tiles, dark timbers, landscape paintings and distressed finishes – it matches the well-heeled set here perfectly.
Our favourite haunt is undeniably the bar upstairs where you can order up a Margarita (they’re calling it a Mariano Martinez – they’ve renamed all the classics so it’s worth reading the descriptions through) and sink into a plush bar stool by the open windows. Or you can take your Champagne cocktail made with gin, lemon juice and sugar out onto the little balcony for a five-minute mini-break.
Everything is exceptionally nice at the Paddington. Time, taste and a fair wad of cash has gone into transforming an underwhelming watering hole into a casual dining nirvana, and the pull of simple fare executed with precision is irresistible.
The crowds will ultimately die down, though we don’t anticipate it being quiet anytime soon. But if you’re two thumbs up for an early supper, or planning on strategically refuelling later in the night, you’re onto a winner. In fact, the kitchen is set to keep cooking until 1am (no lock-out zone here) so post-party feasting may have just found a new home in Sydney.