Walking through the doors of The Grand Nash for the first time since its refurbishment is like welcoming home an old friend. Sure, things have changed a bit, but it only takes a second to remember why you liked them so much.

First-time owner and long-time publican Lance Burrows (formerly of Bar 333 and Ryan’s Bar) saw The Grand National was in need of an update, but wanted to make sure the pub retained its local feel throughout the renovations. With this in mind, the front pub area has been kept simple with booths, bar stools and ample standing room, while the spacious, light-filled back area is geared more towards casual dining.

“The line between restaurants and pubs is very blurred,” explains Burrows. “People want a casual eating environment and the standard is incredibly high, particularly in the area.”

Needless to say, the changes go far beyond exposed-brick walls and retro light fittings. The redesign of the space is by global design firm Woods Bagot. “We reoriented the interiors to create a free-flowing space with bold graphics and bespoke light fittings creating a contemporary look. In the pub, we went for a green reminiscent of a more traditional, British pub space, while white and blue lends the restaurant and a conservatory style garden room a fresh, cool look.” says Linda Boronkay, Woods Bagot Associate.

A big emphasis has been placed on food, with Burrows nabbing chef Martin Sutedja, previously of Ananas and Bistro Ortolan, to head up the kitchen. The new menu puts a modern twist on the pub classics we all know and love, such as tortellini with Queensland spanner crab, bisque and heirloom tomatoes, while also offering a range of contemporary share plates such as kingfish tartare with capers and chilli, or a charcuterie board. And you can breathe a sigh of relief – the famous steaks haven’t gone anywhere.

“The pub has always been known for its steaks,” says Burrows. “We’ve invested a lot of time talking to suppliers, trying to find the right cuts.” They settled on a Bindaree Trinity pasture-fed scotch fillet and a Cape Byron Angus T-bone, in case your stomach was wondering. Other menu standouts include the duck liver and Armagnac parfait and the seared tuna niçoise salad.

A range of craft beer, carafes and cocktail jugs are now also offered at the bar, and the wine list is refreshingly unpretentious. No wonder the locals keep coming back.

The Grand National Hotel
161 Underwood Street, Paddington
(02) 9363 4557

Mon to Sat noon–midnight
Sun noon–10pm