Luxing up old pubs is the hot new trend in Sydney and in blue-ribbon, high-fashion Paddington they’re leading the pack when it comes to flash makeovers. The Paddington Inn has whipped off the covers to reveal a chic new look. Add a little French bistro flavour to your repast with a plate of crisp, fresh, spring garden veg that sings when introduced to a pot of sauce gribiche. Of course, if you need weighty sustenance in a hurry the burger is the right choice. The beef patty is so juicy it soaks through to the base so don’t dilly dally, and maybe even consider eating it upside down. It’s a classic number done well with ribbons of pickles, lettuce mayo and cheese. Then, finish it off with a coffee cocktail (that’s what they call it). Served in a coupette, it’s made with spiced rum, Single O espresso and Patrón XO Café.
This Mexican joint can be found on Pitt Street in the city. The concrete corridor space pops thanks to the addition of hot pink chairs and a soaring pink mural, with graphic lines that’ll have you mesmerised all night. Start off with the blackened corn – they do a roaring trade in it. Or you could opt for messy, glazed pork ribs, lamb shoulder tacos and agave-glazed caramel fudge. Of course, with Mexican, you’re probably going to want tequila. Give yourself a kick with their Mexo cocktail, a combo of Patrón XO Café, mezcal and agave that’ll set you right after you’ve consumed half your body weight in smashed-at-your table guacamole and crunchy plantain chips.
In an area more known for its beer swilling than cocktail drinking, Saké stands out. And it should – there’s excitement to be found in this Japanese restaurant and bar. The Hiramasa Kingfish is kicky and a little bit Latin, thanks to its lime and jalapeno koshō sauce. Get some moreish nori crisps to go with it. It’s only available on the set menu – but the short rib bossam is rich like the emperor of umami-land and has meltingly soft meat. The interior is stylish, Kyoto via Stockholm – with blonde-coloured timber and generous-sized bar tables. Since you’re indulging, order their Premium Espresso Martini – walnut infused maple syrup and chocolate bitters combine with Patrón XO Café, making it just as good before a meal as after.
Fratelli Fresh Bridge Street has its own mozzarella bar where you can try the likes of fresh buffalo mozzarella with shavings of prosciutto. Of course, you might think you can’t live on cheese and preserved meats alone – and we think you’re wrong – but if you insist there’s also classic pizze and pastas on the menu. Make sure you order the crisp Brussels sprouts on the side – not just for the vitamins but for the pancetta that comes with them. They’re doing Espresso Martinis Italian-style here, which means they come in a coupette with vanilla syrup and a nice slug of Patrón XO Café – which isn’t strictly Italian, but you won’t hear any complaints here.
Beauty and convenience don’t always go hand in hand, but Opera Bar is a glam exception to the rule. Right in the city, perfectly located for a pre-show meal – this bar is also a grazer’s best friend, thanks to their dedicated charcuterie and cheese room. Wander over to pick and mix your favourites, then have them with an Opera Bar Espresso Martini, made with rum, Amaro and Patrón XO Café. There’s no better way to begin a night at the opera (or just a night, really). Given you’re already sipping cocktails by the harbour you may as well go full toff and order half a dozen oysters or four fat, rosy king prawns and enjoy the brief dalliance with the finer things.