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Paddington Arms Hotel, Paddington

Paddington Arms which is located on the busy street of Oxford Street in Paddington is the new venture for the two-hatted Four in Hand restaurant, Colin Fassnidge. Together with one of his old sous chefs, Neil Thompson , they have created a menu that is quite similar to Four in Hand, promoting nose to tail eating with a more relaxed feel.

I quite like what they have done to the place, the spacious area and the booths, it’s indeed very casual and a great place to hang out with friends over a nice meal. Now the food is no ordinary pub grub – it has an English / Irish twist to it, I really enjoy the food at Four in Hand, so had high expectations and it did not disappoint.

I was meeting with the lovely suzchef. We have heard wonderful things about this place and we are both HUGE fans of Four in Hand. We thought we would share a couple of dishes and we are SO glad that we did – not sure how anyone could have finished it on its own!

We both couldn’t go past the roast pork belly with potato, apple and sage salad ($23) – oh my goodness. Come to my belly pork belly!

The crispy skin, it was perfect. The pork succulent and seriously fatty, too fatty for S but I certainly enjoyed it. The crisp apple, potato and sage salad were a wonderful compliment.

We also ordered the braised beef ribs with pickled cabbage ($25), WOW – it was a HUGE serving!

The beef was so tender that it just fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. It was relatively rich, heavy and winter comfort food!

The pickled cabbage with corn really complimented the beef well. I loved the wedges, crunchy on the outside and soft pillowy inside. I don’t know how anyone can finish this dish on their own, I struggled to finish my own piece.

Uncle and E went a week earlier, E had the ribs, but uncle ordered the house made beef burger with grated horseradish and onion relish and chips ($20). We were tempted to order this, but the beef ribs and pork belly won. It does look superb though – will definitely order that next time.

They also ordered seared bonito with pickled cucumbers, seaweed and radishes ($16) – uncle’s photos are always soo good!

I really like the food here, the atmosphere, it can get rather rowdy at night though. We were both TOO full for dessert, but it’s a good excuse to come back, try different dishes and have dessert. I think Colin and Neil have done an exceptional job! Seriously fantastic food, and looking forward to coming back soon.

*Photos with no GA watermark are taken by my Uncle.

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

The Paddington Arms Hotel

384 Oxford Street

Paddington 2021

Ph: +61 2 9360 9668

Paddington Arms Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The Bellevue Hotel, Paddington

Thanks to Tammi and the lovely people from both Trish Nichol Agency and the Bellevue Hotel for organising a tasting session at the newly renovated bar of the Bellevue Hotel. It has been many years since my last visit to the restaurant or the bar, and vaguely remember what it looks like, but the newly renovation is quite funky – I love the couches, the open area outside and the private dining room in which we all sat and ate.

For lunch, we thought we would share the meat short board ($35), the mixed short board ($35) and the mixed long board ($45).

The meat short board which consisted of little pig sliders, veal, pork and sage meatballs, lamb cutlets with salsa agresto.

I have heard some wonderful things about these little pig sliders. I have to say, I had high expectations of the little pig sliders and they didn’t live up to it. It was missing something, pickled or caramelised onions, it needed that extra ‘something’. Pork pattie with soft bun, I think it needed a little bit of chili for that ‘kick’.

The veal, pork and sage meatballs I really enjoyed. Tender, succulent meatballs which had a nice spicy kick at the end.

The lamb cutlets I didn’t have, but judging from everyone’s reaction, they seemed to have enjoyed it, it was nicely pink on the inside and had a nice light batter on the outside.

The mixed short board consisted of patata’s bravas, salt cod brandade with anchovies, capers and toasted sourdough and more little pig sliders.

I quite like patata’s bravas, however, this was a little bland. The potatoes were nicely cooked but needed a little bit of salt.

The salt cod brandade with anchovies was a hit amongst the diners. I love brandade, which is ‘an emulsion of salt cod, olive oil’ and eaten with bread was just delightful. I love the creaminess, and the saltiness, it was seriously tasty!

The mixed long board consisted of stuffed mushrooms, veal, pork and sage meatballs, garlic prawns and tomato hot pot and salt and pepper squid with fennel aioli.

The stuffed mushrooms I really enjoyed, large mushroom topped with cheese and bread crumbs.

The salt and pepper squid with fennel aioli was probably my favourite. Lightly battered and crunchy, the squid was tender and the fennel aioli gave it a nice touch.

The garlic prawns and tomato hot pot was good, but it lacked garlic. The prawns were plump but it lacked that strong garlic punch that I expected.

Overall, I thought the food was OK – typical bar food. Some of the dishes I thought lacked flavour, salt mainly, but some were well executed. However, in saying that, if a friend suggested this place for drinks one evening, I would happily share one of the short / long boards with friends over beers and champagne.

Thanks Ian for the hospitality! A great venue for afternoon drinks or even a gathering with friends.

I wouldn’t mind trying their restaurant though, the menu looks pretty damn good!

*GA dined as a guest thanks to both Trish Nichols agency and the Bellevue Hotel

The Bellevue Hotel

159 Hargrave Street

Paddington, NSW 2021

Ph: +61 2 9363 2293

Bellevue Dining Room on Urbanspoon

Ultimate meal – Suckling Pig, Four in Hand, Paddington

Four in Hand is one of my many favourite restaurants in Sydney. I came earlier this year with a couple of close friends and family to celebrate my birthday. I had the pork dish and it was one of the nicest pork dishes I have had! Whilst dining, we noticed a suckling pig being carried across the room – we all looked at each other and thought ‘yup, we will have to do that one day!’

You all know my passion for pork, it is by far my favourite meat! This is my ultimate meal – a whole suckling pig amongst friends! With the help of my uncle, we managed to find 15 other pork lovers to dine at Four in Hand for their sublime suckling pig. I have been looking forward to this meal ever since I made the reservations six weeks ago!

I arrived early, and the lovely waitress showed me our ‘room’. It is not in the main dining area, but at the back of the pub – it’s a small, intimate and cosy room that could fit about 20 people. It was the perfect setting for 16 hungry diners!

I love the fire place – perfect for a cold wintery night.

We started with some fresh bread, not baked on site but from Iggy’s bakery in Bondi. Why have I not heard about this bakery before?

Once everyone has arrived, the waitress kindly told us sit so she can serve our amuse bouche. A small cup of soup was presented before us – white fish citrus and basil soup. The soup was strong flavoured, a little too fishy some said but had a wonderful citrus tang. I certainly enjoyed it.

We sat there chatting and the next I knew, the suckling pig was carried and placed on the table!

OH piggy! The star of the evening! Knife inserted into the back, ready to be cut!

As the waitress cut through the leg, I could hear the crackling sound of the crispy skin, it was like music to my ears! Oh how I heart crispy crackle! She cuts away, and I couldn’t help but salivate. I had to put the camera down and start eating this wonderful suckling pig.

Cut and then served on a wooden plank (I really need to get one for home!). Chunks of meat topped with crispy crackling waiting to be eaten.

The pork meat was unbelievably succulent that it cuts right through, the crackling was gooey and crispy and oh so wonderful! Best part about the pork!

C wanted the leg and the ear. The leg looked too much of an effort to eat for me, however, here are his comments ‘The ear was very crispy and crunchy but didn’t have much taste to it. The leg was very hard to eat, the skin on the upper leg was crispy but there wasn’t much meat to it. I couldn’t bite into the lower leg. Then I had some of the “normal” pork and it was very tender and tasty. I didn’t have much skin until late so it went a bit chewy and cold by then, oops!’

There were condiments that came with the suckling pig, jus (which was nice but a little rich), apple sauce (absolutely delightful and perfect combination) and chimichurri sauce. However, I ate most of the pig as it is and it was splendid! The suckling pig came with side dishes. Dutch carrots, absolutely wonderful! I couldn’t stop eating them!

Colcannon – traditional Irish dish which consists of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It was so creamy and so yummy it was hard not to have a second serve!

Slaw with prosciutto I enjoyed the most.

Last but not least, these bake scallions.

WOW! Food coma, 16 hungry diners demolished the pig – there was nothing left, except for the legs and the head. I am proud to say that I had at least two or three serves (my mother would be appalled!) and couldn’t stop eating the crackle.

It was a wonderful evening shared with wonderful friends! Although there were two separate groups, we all bonded over our love for food and wine!

Cost of the pig is $80 per person and you need a minimum of 10 people. 16 was probably the right number for us for the size of the pig! We definitely didn’t have any leftovers. I have had a couple of suckling pigs in my time, mainly Chinese style roast suckling pig and I have to say, I think I prefer the western style better. The meat is much more tender and the crackle – heavenly!

Wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, but maybe not so soon! Completely OD’ed on pork and had a ‘pig hangover’ – yes that is possible! If suckling pig is not your thing, then try their dinner menu at Four in Hand – well worth it! Unfortunately C didn’t think the cost of the pig was worth it but I think most of the diners did enjoy it.

Can you believe that my dear uncle wanted gelato after this feast – so yes, we did go to messina for some gelato! I couldn’t stomach one so had a couple of spoonful and I was done! Fantastic evening!

Ps: reservations are highly recommended! We booked six weeks in advance and from memory they are fully booked this month!

GA’s rating: 8.5 / 10

Four in Hand

105 Southerland Street

Paddington 2021

Ph: +61 2 9362 1999

Four in Hand on Urbanspoon

Ampersand Book and Cafe, Paddington

I have walked and driven pass this Victorian house, café and bookstore, which is situated on the busy road of Oxford Street many times now. The café is always busy with people either queuing or dining. As the name suggests, not only is it a café, but also a bookstore. They have over 30,000 used books stretching from the ceiling to the floor and plenty of places to sit, either outside, by the window or downstairs. Two levels of books and check out the bottom floor – I would love to have a room like this at home!

B regularly comes here and she suggested we come here one afternoon for lunch. As expected, the place was busy and thankfully we managed to secure a table outside. It was just too nice to sit indoors. They have all day breakfast, which is a bonus, and lunch consists of gourmet sandwiches, paninis, risottos, pastas, soup and salads.

I couldn’t go pass the corn fritters with fresh avocado and tomato salsa ($11.90) – it was just too pretty to eat. Two perfectly round thin corn fritters – it was sweet, and delicious. The fresh avocado and tomato salsa were refreshing and a wonderful complement. It was filling and exactly what I wanted

B opted for something healthier, breakfast bowl ($11) – which consists of half bircher and half toasted muesli topped with fresh fruit and dessert yogurt. We both loved the combination of moist and crunchy muesli together.

I can imagine coming here one afternoon, sipping my coffee and reading a book from their collection under the sun. It would be very relaxing and a perfect way to spend an afternoon. I have always loved the idea of café with bookstore.

Ampersand uses allpress coffee, the coffee here is good, but I still do prefer Single Origin. Ampersand won ‘Wentworth Courier awards for Excellence Best Cafe in 2008, 2009, and 2010’,  Service is friendly and efficient, and food is fantastic. Definitely keen to go back and try their lunch.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Ampersand books and cafe

78 Oxford Street

Paddington 2021

Ph: +61 2 9380 6617
Ampersand Cafe & Bookstore on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Tiger Mottle, Paddington

This is not the first time I have visited this delicious cafe, Tiger Mottle which can be found on Glenmore Road in Five Ways, Paddington.

I was catching up with a dear friend, M for lunch and considering neither of us had our cars that day, thought we would go somewhere that was relatively close. We had such a good breakfast here, that we thought we would come back and try their lunch.

The coffee was as good as I remembered, skim flat white – strong and very aromatic.

It was a steamy day and I opted for something relatively healthy for lunch – smoked ocean trout salad with bocconcini, green beans, avocado, tomato, crispy capers and racquet ($16.50). It was a relatively large serving, big chunks of ocean trout, bocconcini and avocado. The ocean trout was served warm and incredibly succulent. I loved the combination of bocconcini and avocado, soft and creamy, and the crispy capers were just the perfect complement. It was rather filling and unfortunately, didn’t manage to finish everything but it was definitely delightful.

M, opted for the Grilled Chicken Salad with avocado, baked ricotta, tomato, caramelized onions and walnuts. It was also a large serving – big cuts of chicken breast on a bed of rocket and spinach mixed together with baked ricotta and topped with caramelized onions. From memory, she didn’t eat any of the caramelized onions as she is not a fan, but managed to finish everything else. The chicken I thought was a little dry but she seemed to have enjoyed it.

It was wonderful catching up with M, and I have certainly taking a liking to Tiger Mottle. The breakfast was excellent, the service was a little sketchy that day, but the coffee and food definitely made up for it!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Tiger Mottle

248 Glenmore Road

Five Ways, Paddington, 2010

Ph: +61 402 520 517

Tiger Mottle on Urbanspoon