The Paddington may be a pub reno, but the venue isn't simply a pub anymore. Gone are the days of the Paddo Arms; it only feels right to call Merivale's reincarnation of the Oxford Street pub by its new, full name. They've taken the space, gutted it, given it one hell of a spit and polish, chucked in a few rotisseries and many a lampshade. It's all white tiling, emerald features and dark timber. It looks good — the word swish even comes to mind. And, downstairs at least, it feels kinda like a big, casual restaurant.
But that could also have something to do with the food. Pub fare this is not. For one, you won't find any French onion dip (like at The Unicorn up the road), but goats' curd comes as it should: by the bowlful, and with a generous serving of fresh bread ($22). Parmesan comes in the form of custard (yes, custard) with peas and sprouts ($18) — but, really, it's the custard you'll be needing a spoon for. Feel free to lick the plate. You could get away with it.
Because it's a nice space, but it's also a little rowdy. When it's busy — and it certainly has been — the place gets full, quickly. On a weeknight the place is heaving, with every seat filled in the loosely defined dining areas, and every piece of standing space taken at the public bar downstairs and the cocktail bar up top. Waitstaff work the bar and weave through the crowd like pros, though. So you can rest assured your crab toast will arrive with the crunch it was intended to have.
And your cocktails will come expertly shaken or stirred, too. You can go with a fizz, a spritz or a Mary, but we most definitely recommend starting off with a Milano Spagliato: a simple, but sherbety mix of Campari, mandarin, lemon and prosecco ($16). It's the perfect aperitif while you mull over what to order for mains.
Which should be the chicken. Chef Ben Greeno didn't install three custom-made rotisseries for nothing. His free-range Bannockburn chooks are brined and roasted on the spit, and, despite initial scepticism, they really are that good. They're juicy and flavoursome, and will change the way you see roast chicken on a menu (which, at The Paddington, is $24 for half, and $39 for whole). The gravy, fries and side salad it's served with is just a bonus. The wagyu beef with broccoli and mustard seeds ($39) is another worthy option from the rotisserie, but the trout ($38) doesn't quite hit the mark with an odd pairing of mushrooms.
What definitely hits the mark though is the late night menu, which is available after 10.30pm. Those roast chicken and bacon sandwiches are going to come in handy because The Paddington is open til 3am Friday and Saturday nights. Nope, there's no lockouts here — just lots of juicy chicken, wine, beer and spirits. Pick your poison and kick on.