The Royal Hotel is the last remaining pillar of the age old Five Ways institution of Paddington. The night life in the suburb in recent years has taken a hit, with many of the shopfronts on nearby Oxford Street tenantless. The Royal however has made it through this down-turn, and is now arguably leading the way in the area’s newfound revival. The Pub has always been a popular local, and pre-rugby game watering hole for nearby SFS, but a recent set of renovations has seen the venue join the gastro-pub scene. Split over five levels the venue has a space for everyone, the sports bar on the street level, relaxed dining on the second and on top, Paddington’s best kept secret; a tiny, phenomenal rooftop bar with 300 degree views over the city.
The climb up the Victorian stairs to the bistro is well worth the while, where the menu has something for everyone. We opted for the fantastic value eight starters/share plates for $60, which pretty much gets you everything from the starters/share plates menu and great for a group of about three or four people. I know, not your traditional pub fare, but you kind of forget that you are in a pub at the Royal. All of the options we had were fantastic, although the heat in the caramelised chilli sauce accompanying the pork belly was a bit heavy-handed - and I am not one to shy away from a good bit of heat. My companions with more delicate palates unfortunately struggled to enjoy what would have otherwise been a good dish.
On other visits to The Royal I have enjoyed their Scotch fillet ($28) which was not only cooked perfectly, but also refreshingly comes with a daily salad or daily vegetables, which not only changes daily but is actually interesting. This is a big tick for me - I believe the classic 'RSL Salad' of mesculin, tomato and cucumber has no place next to a beautiful cut of meat like this, and is a consistent travesty committed by many other similar venues in Sydney.
A Pub is more than just its food however, and The Royal ticks the boxes elsewhere; they have fantastic daily food specials, trivia on Wednesdays, and DJ’s on Friday and Saturday nights. They have a standard selection of beers on tap, however a few more craft offerings would be appreciated. The wine list is pretty solid, with mostly big names covering the popular varieties, as to be expected at a pub of this calibre.
The Royal is a good pub, with solid food and beverage offerings, a great location and a beautiful rooftop that I am unashamedly obsessed with. Having said this however, the venue is not without its competition, with many other similar offerings just around the corner, not to mention the Hemmes’ purchase of the old Paddington Arms a stones throw away. While The Royal may lead the pack right now, it is going to have to continue its innovative process to stay ahead in the months to come.