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An inclusive gastropub in a sometimes exclusive neighbourhood.

Paddington is the definitive fashion capital of Sydney, replete with savvy, luxe locals and boutique shops and restaurants. And unless you're well-heeled and stylish, the thought of being able to afford a sushi roll for lunch, let alone a cumin spiced pork T-bone with creamed swede and rocket salad, might seem like a stretch.

Well think again. One of Sydney's original gastropubs, the Paddington Inn, has had a facelift and is now as sassy and sophisticated as the neighbourhood itself. Yet there's no need to be well-heeled and stylish to come here. With an interior that has been transformed into an urban oasis, it's a casual and relaxed atmosphere that can be enjoyed by all. There are two spacious bars, private booths, a smoker-friendly courtyard area and a bistro. The staff are efficient and friendly, noise is kept at a friendly decibel and there's not a pokie in sight. Go Paddo.

Furthermore, there's no need to worry about exhausting the credit card. Great thought has gone into a menu that reinvents the pub classics, not to mention at modest prices. Share plates are generously portioned and certainly the way to go if you have a few dining companions — that being said, don't get carried away with over ordering as there are many appetising bites.

A bowl of Diamond clams with chilli ($16) are a must. So too are the calamari fritti ($16) —keep the napkins handy for the drool-worthy aioli that comes on the side. Building your own tortillas is always fun: the tender chicken has been marinated in Portuguese spices ($17) and comes with tasty lemon yoghurt that makes up for the somewhat lacklustre salsa.

An absolute highlight though is the zucchini flowers stuffed with goat's cheese ($16) — you may want to rethink sharing these ones. There will be a mind-numbing state of orgasmic deliciousness after devouring these, so you might want the plate to yourself. Make sure you have a glass of the Ant Moore Sav Blanc ($9/$40) or Little Creatures ($6.50) on standby in order to avoid disappointment after the final flower: a light refreshment will rejuvenate your spirits.

Again, bear in mind the substantial portions should you be ordering main meals. Consequently, squeezing in the salmon fillet ($26) might take some effort; same goes for the steak sandwich with fries ($18). Both are satisfying renditions, though fairly salty dishes that could see you scanning the drinks menu for a thirst quencher.

Which indeed you will find: a decent wine list will impress aficionados and there's quite the array of delicious iced cocktails. The famous Paddo Punch (jug for $30) is a crowd-pleaser with its passionfruit float atop; however, the garden martini is a winner — zesty lime punches through the gin and elderflower for an invigorating kick.

Overall, the Paddington Inn has stepped up in style and fortunately managed to maintain its original character. Dapper or not, this is everyone's pub.

Published on December 14, 2012 by Aimee Sics

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