With his signature red-rimmed glasses, Blair Hayden is the popular custodian of one of Sydney's most-loved pubs. The Lord Nelson has been trading continuously since 1841. Under his stewardship, it’s cemented itself as a modern classic.

Hayden reinvented the site. After acquiring it in 1986, he installed an on-site brewery, creating Australia's first brewpub. Then he worked on sourcing seasonal produce for the pub's food – unheard of at the time. The building was also given a much-needed restoration.

Today the Nelson is as lovely as ever, its convict-quarried sandstone facade keeping watch over Millers Point. Inside, the old wooden floorboards, stone walls and thick timber rafters create a space that's as functional as it is elegant.

At the bar, it's about Lord Nelson's own brews. There are six in the core range, including a summer ale, English and Australian-style pale ales, an English bitter, an old ale and a porter. They’re brewed with nothing but malt, hops, yeast and water. No additives or preservatives required.

The pub's modern Australian diner is upstairs. The brief menu offers typical pub fare, albeit with a sharper approach to flavour and presentation. Thus your steak could be jazzed up with cafe dé Paris butter; or chicken replaced with the more delicate spatchcock. The expansive wine list is another step up, able to match that of any pub in Australia (and best many restaurants).

Downstairs, the bar menu features more everyday pub classics, such as fish and chips, steak sandwiches and beef pies.

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Updated: March 23rd, 2021

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