There's a crumbling, dinky old pub on Parramatta Road that you've probably driven past a hundred times. It's not on a corner, it's not particularly flash, and it's wedged between Ray's Outdoors and Istanbul on Broadway. But now it's set to be Camperdown residents' new go-to local — the lord mayor of Chippendale's The Lord Gladstone has revamped one of the suburb's legitimately hidden gems: The Hampshire.
Playing partner pub to the Lord Gladstone, the Lady Hampshire (get it?) is the latest project from prolific Sydney publican Paddy Coughlan. Co-founder and ex-CEO of the Riversdale Group (The Vic on the Park, The Marly, Kinselas) and now founder of boutique Sydney pub company Bourke Street (The Glad), Paddy specialises in taking an underperforming pub and giving it new life, rather than building a brand newie. This time, it's Camperdown's long lost Hampshire, which has sat quietly closed for two years on Parramatta Road.
The masterpiece of the pub has to be a giant mural by Sydney artist Scott Marsh, who's painted every last Aussie 'legend' you can think of, from Kath and Kim to Cathy Freeman, Adam Goodes to Steve Irwin (not sure about Reg Reagan, but that's just me). Out back, the Hampshire boasts a great openair beer garden, with a big screen primed for AFL grand finals and Rabbitohs matches — something pubs like The Vic have become known for. Alongside a custom smoker for smoked meats on the weekends, Paddy plans to lower the shed roof to create a hanging kitchen garden.
Food-wise, the Hampshire will follow the lead of its predecessors, with classic pub grub done bloody well. They're going heavier on the tacos than the Gladstone, with eight on the menu, from baja fish to mushroom to 'drunk chicken' (tequila-drunk). Of course there's a range of burgers, featuring the 'Camperdowner' beef burger with double American cheese, streaky bacon, onion rings, fried egg, grilled pineapple, beetroot and the rest. Also on the menu, chicken schnitties and parmas, and a casual deep-fried Gaytime.
But how will the Hampshire stand out in a renaissance of pub grub? "My theory on that, and I say this to all our managers, is you can go to most pubs in Sydney who have a pub-style menu, if you just read the menu they all read exactly the same — they've all got a schnitzel, a burger, a steak, a couple of other things right? But it's how it's cooked is the difference." His main piece of pub grub advice? "Beware the heart-shaped schnitzel... No two schnitties should look the same."
The Lady Hampshire is open at 91 Parramatta Road, Camperdown. The kitchen is open 12-3pm for lunch, 6-9pm for dinner. For more info, visit their Facebook page.