There’s a power shift happening in Sydney’s food scene. Once chefs aspired to head intricate degustations and fine-dining restaurants, but now it seems, they’re championing the casual (albeit often after a stint at the best restaurants in the city). Case in point: Ben Greeno, a chef with a resume like a blogger’s bucket list, has just opened a new venture and it’s a pub.
The ex-Momofuku Seiobo and Noma man has joined Justin Hemmes’ empire (Hemmes once referred to Greeno as one of the best chefs in the world) to reinvigorate the Paddington Arms. “The original idea was for everything to be focused around the rotisserie,” Greeno says. “In the second meeting we had at Justin's house, we decided to just do it.”
The current rotisserie roster is filled with Vic’s Meats and Haverick products. There’s a half or a whole chicken, brined, juicy and supported by fries; a lamb or beef rump; and a whole fish stuffed with olives, lemon, thyme and celeriac. “It's just like a traditional French rotisserie you'd find in the market,” Greeno says. “We'd like to get some whole small animals on there. We’ll change it up.”
The rest of the menu is filled with share-plate dishes with prices indicating their size. Greeno’s most happy with a dish of parmesan custard with a salad of sprouted pulses, peas and spelt. “It came about as an emergency dinner one night at home which turned into something really good. We elaborated and made it into a dish for the restaurant.” He also hopes the chicken offal dish will win over any potential uneasiness. “When I showed everyone the menu one of the guys in the office said, ‘Oh you should take that off’, but when we did the tasting, everyone loved it.” The short wine list is by Merivale sommelier Franck Moreau and seasonal cocktails are by Sam Egerton and Toby Marshall from Palmer and Co.
Just like the menu, the venue’s fit-out isn’t exactly faithful to its pub heritage. Like the Coogee Pavilion and other recent Merivale ventures, it’s not just a single idea or feel, but a few different designs. Downstairs is dominated by white tiles, paint-stripped walls and hung garlic heads reminiscent of rural France. Upstairs there's a balcony and a bar with stools overlooking the kitchen, a lounge-like area and an incredible sun-lit private room, which feels like stumbling into the hall of a charmingly ruined, provincial church. “While we looked at old images and old references for inspiration, we're trying to make it look quite modern as well,” says architect Emilie Delalande of (Akin Creative).
380 Oxford Street, Paddington
(02) 9240 3000
Sun to Thu 12pm–12am**
Fri & Sat 12pm–3am