Mitchell Waugh’s PHMG has settled in and overhauled the legendary Four in Hand, reopening with new integration alongside a sustained homage to history in the heritage-listed pub.
Bursting onto the scene mid-2015, Public House Management Group (PHMG) let loose the chequebook and amongst a string of acquisitions came purchase of Paddington’s Royal Hotel, the Woollahra Hotel, then Paddo’s famous Four in Hand, with celebrity chef frontman Colin Fassnidge.
Taking the keys to The Four early 2016, PHMG continued its assessment of the Paddington precinct, particularly the clientele of their brotherly trio.
Having replenished the Woollahra, including some retouching on Bistro Moncur and a satellite instalment at The Buena in Mosman, the Group has undertaken a significant redesign of both the interior and menu, with new dining room The Grill.
Mitchell Waugh says surprisingly given their proximity, the Paddington-precinct pubs have their own flavours.
“The clientele at each of our venues is quite different.
“The Four really is a locals’ venue, with a customer that is interested in spending time with mates, enjoying a good meal and watching sport, and we believe we have only complemented the heritage of The Four rather than reinventing it completely.
“With further understanding of the venue and the desires of our Paddington locals, we recognised that we also needed to re-evaluate the dining room offering so that it complemented the bar.”
Aiming for more ‘local-ness’ there is now less differentiation between the former hatted dining room and the rest of the public bar, with a warmer, ‘more masculine’ interior by designer Amandine Odouard, integrating the pub’s classic elements with contemporary fixtures.
Rich timbers, quilted leather panelling and European light fixtures in the dining room offset the heritage tiling and fireplace, striking ‘new’ antique mirror and new state-of-the-art TAB facilities of the public bar.
“Essentially, we are breaking down the barrier between the pub and the dining room. Paddington locals and Sydney foodies alike will be able to enjoy a high-quality restaurant meal in the dining room and a drink following in the bar, without feeling like they have gone to a completely different venue with no relation to one another.”
Dining is a ‘carnivore’s carnival’, with heartier, produce-driven items championing the sea and the turf, cooked on a new high-tech grill from Brazil, on both the dining room and bar menus by executive chef John Collins (The Royal) and head chef Daniel Menzies (Bistro Moncur).
Lighter options such as crab linguine balance big-serve highlights such as the Wagyu sirloin ($90), share plate of quarter sucking pig ($110) or too-big-for-one Pinnacle grass-fed Rib Eye ($135). There will be a Sunday roast “with all the trimmings” in both bar and restaurant.
The drinks menu furthers the pared-back offering. Cocktails include the ($18) Whiskey Sour, Martini or Negroni, and the wine list by sommelier Sean Royle (Bennelong) champions Australian selections.
Holding a unique perspective in the city-eastern suburb, (Paddington) House Management Group recognise both the individuality and cross-over patronage of the pubs, particularly the upmarket dining style of Bistro Moncur and the former The Four, and determined the new The Four should be a premium dining experience without the stuffy or formal bits.
Waugh says they’ve “tweaked” the execution, and now they’re ready to carry on the legacy, having reopened the doors last Friday (30 June).
“I think the heritage of the Four in Hand and the long history people have with the Hotel is what has and will continue to keep people loyal to it.
“So many people have a great memory or story from the Four and we just hope to be able to see this continue.”