The ghost of Durty Nelly’s lives on in the Guinness tap at this squeaky clean redux of an old Paddington pub
You may wonder how Paddington can sustain all the well-heeled watering holes providing sustenance and liquor to the Inner East – maybe all those beautiful terraces are actually portals to alternate dimensions instead of, you know, houses with kitchens in them. But clearly there’s a demand for gussied up pubs, and the latest convert is the Village Inn.
We had a soft spot for Durty Nelly’s, the staunchly Irish pub where they’d been pulling pints of Guinness for well over a century. But the times are changing and all the Celtic bric-a-brac got the heave-ho in favour of stripped back timbers, leather banquettes, taxidermy and mounted antlers. It's a stylish, clubhouse vibe that we’re seeing a lot of, but there’s no denying The Village Inn is classier, cleaner and smells a lot fresher than Nelly’s ever did.
In pride of place on the bar is a shiny bank of taps devoted to James Squire but there's still a Guinness tap off to one side near the huge ornamental flower display. Hook round to the right-hand side for a grab bag of local and international draughts such as New, Murray’s, Sapporo, Coopers, Super Dry and Carlsberg. Oddly, there’s no option for a tab so buy in rounds or roll with cash.
It’s a sleek spot for an $11 glass of nicely balanced pinot noir from across the ditch, but the majority of the punters on our visit are here for dinner as well as drinks.
The menu is simple and compact. Smooth-battered hoki provides the crunch that is lacking from the soft, hand-cut chips and the rich, creamy tartare tastes good on everything. An Irish echo can still be heard in the Guinness braised lamb shanks and the staff give the thumbs up to the simple beef burger, and happily most meals sneak in under a twenty.
They’re keeping the vibe relaxed and mellow downstairs – Ben Harper and Fat Freddy’s Drop are both killing us softly on our visit – but if you want to upgrade your evening head upstairs for an excellent Martini in the muted glamour of the Print Room cocktail bar
. It’s all high-class capers in Paddo these days.