The Paddo Inn Bar & Grill, Paddington.
Forget the lists and the accolades. Matt Moran’s sleek Paddington pub restaurant is serving up top- class fare with smooth service for an all- round great meal out
HOW do you rate a superb dining experience at a venue that wouldn’t come at the top of restaurant ranking lists? This is the quandary I have with The Paddo Inn Bar & Grill. Can a pub be given the same score as a renowned fine diner with a string of awards?
Back when I thought it mattered if a waiter forgot to fill your water glass or didn’t clear the plates quickly enough, I would take notes in the toilets when reviewing restaurants. I’d write down every detail. But while these minutiae are important in helping us sort the wheat from the chaff, most of us simply want a place to share great food with people we like.
Owned by the Solitel Group, The Paddo Inn is where co-owner Matt Moran got his first head chef gig. And so it is a coming home of sorts, with Moran taking over late last year. It opened with a fine dining offering, but relaunched seven months later with a more casual grill. Moran himself has said the refresh was about giving the locals what they really wanted.
The new, understated fit-out benefits from smart lighting sprawling out from textured cream walls that are adorned in framed, black and white line drawings.
The service, led by restaurant manager Brooke Adey, is solid and confident, helping to create that comfortable hum you find in good eateries. The wine list is just as impressive, with a well-priced mix of the familiar and new world varieties to choose from.
In the kitchen, head chef Laura Barratto (Chiswick at the Gallery) shows considered restraint, relying on good ingredients and simple, well-executed cookery.
Creme fraiche and sweet pickled cucumber play devil’s advocate to the subtle depth of salmon gravlax.
Then, a thick, lean and blushingly pink Berkshire pork cutlet makes a nice change from the pork belly, which is seen on so many restaurant menus. Charred cabbage adds a smoky, earthy dimension to the dish.
True to Moran style, the menu features some of Australia’s best beef producers. There’s Darling Downs scotch fillet from Queensland and Jacks Creek MSB2 T-bone from New South Wales. The ruby-red Rangers Valley rump cap stakes a claim for the best steak cut. It arrives with half a dressed baby gem lettuce and our choice of condiment.
For dessert, a delightful custard tart is topped with a light brulee, underpinned by good pastry and Chantilly cream. I wanted to lick every single plate clean.
The Paddo Inn may be a pub restaurant, but if every establishment fulfilled their promise to patrons as convincingly as this, there wouldn’t be much need for lists.
From top: the intimate space, the salmon gravlax, and the sophisticated dining room.