The Four in Hand by Guillaume
Paddo's beloved pub has a new hatted chef in the dining room.
Of all the pubs in all the world, Guillaume Brahimi had to walk into this one. Of course, it isn't just any old inner city dive — the Four in Hand is somewhat fancy, being the former home of 4Fourteen's Colin Fassnidge (and two hats) for over ten years. And so it makes sense that the French chef — known for his fine dining at nearby Guillaume — should find his way into the kitchen at the backstreet Paddo pub.
And so the Four in Hand has become the Four in Hand by Guillaume. Visually, not much has changed. But the menu — across both the bar and the dining room — sure has. To experience it in all its glory, wrangle your way into the dining room.
It's separated from the rowdy public bar quite effectively — you can still hear the muffled thrum of punters banging on outside, but you can also comfortably hear what your dining mate is saying. In this part of the pub it feels quiet, but not awkwardly so; it feels ordered and considered, but still casual enough to swing by without a reservation on a Tuesday night. Plus, you can also exit through a handy side door if you don't feel like dealing with the pub goers post-dessert — and when dessert is brûléed banana with a super light banana parfait, peanut ice cream and caramel ($16), you'll just want to roll right into the passenger seat and be taken home to dream sweet dreams.
But before you get to the parfait there's bread (Iggy's) and butter (exquisitely smoked), Brussels sprouts (with maple and cubes of bacon) and a whole hearty feast in-between. You can go light with entrees like the super creamy labne with bright wheels of beetroot ($18) or the prawns (which, by the way, Guillaume pairs with chimmichurri and olives and surprisingly manages to pull off), but most of the menu is warm, European-style comfort food.
The whole honey-roasted duck ($80) is pure indulgence (and should only be undertaken by the very hungry), while the roasted mulloway ($34) is much more manageable. The fish, along with some well-roasted artichoke, mussels and wilted cos, comes sitting in a clear broth that's best mopped up with a piece of the aforementioned Iggy's sourdough. If you've already eaten it, don't be afraid to ask for another slice.
Vegetarian options are thin and seem like a bit of an afterthought, but the staff are thorough and accommodating and will be able to make it work. Although you could probably make a good meal out of the sides — the celeriac gratin, for one, is not overly creamy or heavy, and proves a nice change from potato ($10).
If you're looking for pub grub rather than gratin, that's okay too. The bar menu is far more familiar with everything from toasties to schnitties and even fried chicken (a standard Sydney inclusion). You could do worse than to stumble into this gastropub.