Four in Hand, a gutsy pub-side restaurant, has a loyal local following of those who crave honest cooking. Paddington is hardly a culinary wasteland, but Colin Fassnidge’s bistro remains the area stalwart of unfancy yet brilliant dining.
On-menu entrees are immaculate renditions of nose-to-tail food. Ginger-braised pig tail comes with prawn and crackling. Roast Flinders Island wallaby is served with local garlic and artichoke slivers of bonito fish, raw but for a smoky sear, are served in heavy black earthenware on heirloom tomato pieces, cubes of watermelon, thin sticks of dried seaweed and a subtle citrus dressing.
Ingredients and techniques, especially in the main courses, are an almost wintery affair at times; lots of braising and slow roasting, with carrots and celery in abundance. The pub-style simple décor, a wall-long mirror flanked by an inky drawing of a squid, is a cozy and elegant match for the food.
There’s ordering envy when we spot the Macleay Valley lamb shoulder special, slow roasted and huge. But the suckling pig with crisp tail, parsnip and sprouts gets its own jealous stares from nearby tables. Suckling pig and veal tongue also appear on the menu, executions of a philosophy of nose-to-tail eating, done well.