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DONE TO A TURN

How much can Paddington bear? Merivale gives an Oxford Street pub a finger-lickin’ rotisserie reno.

 
Text: Christopher Holder
The Paddington: 384 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 
www.merivale.com.au/thepaddington

 

Is Justin Hemmes the hospitality messiah or just a naughty boy?

He certainly works miracles wherever he goes.

The latest marvel is the Merivale rebirth of the famous Newport Arms, which has the North Shore set jumping out of their deck shoes with excitement. Not so long ago Justin transformed the Coogee Palace into the coolest place in the eastern suburbs.

And then there’s this: The Paddington. Speaking to other operators in the area, it seems like they couldn’t wait for Mr Hemmes to shake his fairy dust over the Paddo. Would it hurt their business? Not a bit, it’ll just bring more quality punters into the area. Seems like Justin Hemmes doesn’t have a single enemy in the business; a few green-eyed monster compatriots, no doubt, but otherwise everyone can’t get enough.

POPULAR WITH THE CHICKS

The Paddo’s schtick is rotisserie chooks. Well, not just chicken (lamb and other delicacies are also skewered) but poultry fills the vista as you walk through the pub.

It’s Executive Chef Ben Greeno’s idea, mostly, one suspects because it’s not done elsewhere. “I want to create food that lends itself to a good time,” Ben Greeno said. “Dishes that can be shared amongst friends. I thought, ‘why don’t we do rotisserie?’. There’s no reason why the food can’t be as good and complex as a high-end restaurant, even though it’s served in more casual surrounds”.

Greeno, whose CV includes Momofuku Seiobo, Michelin-starred Sat Bains and the world’s best restaurant, Noma, has moved from the rarefied air of fine-dining to lead the culinary charge. The Paddington has been designed entirely around his vision for the menu and the style of cooking he loves.

The rotisserie itself — custom made and imported from France — is an awesome piece of kit and provides plenty of theatre.

DESIGN BUTCHERED (LOCALLY)

The Paddington has been brought to life by a design team including Kelvin Ho and Emilie Delalande of Akin Creative, stylist Amanda Talbot and Justin and Bettina Hemmes. Designed as if it was an old local butcher, it boasts a relaxed British charm with white glazed ceramic tiles, painted timber panelling and dark timber furniture. Upstairs the space becomes more intimate with booth seating, panelled walls, a leather-fronted cocktail bar and mirrored tables. The private dining room is surrounded by a floor-to-ceiling distressed landscape mural painted by local Sydney artist Desmond Sweeney.

PADDING OUT THE STREET

Merivale isn’t finished with Oxford Street. Greeno’s serving take-away only rotisserie chicken, salads and sandwiches next door. Meanwhile, two doors down it’s opening a new restaurant concept, led by an alum of Chez Panisse and the Napa Valley’s three-Michelin-starred French Laundry, Danielle Alvarez. Fred’s, as it’s known, is shaped by Danielle’s passionate food philosophy — elevating already perfect produce using old-world techniques such as cooking with a wood-fired hearth and oven. The basement of Fred’s will be home to a tapas bar and eatery, with stunning interiors and seasonally-led cocktails.

SOUND: WELL DONE

In previous issues we’ve mentioned just how fastidious Justin Hemmes is about his audio. The Paddington is no exception. Martin Audio remains the loudspeaker of choice for Merivale, and this install saw one of the first outings for Martin Audio’s new CCD technology. It’s a coaxial design, where the HF unit sits in behind the low frequency device, with the two drivers sharing the same waveguide. The advantage of this is the audio from both drivers arrive at the listener’s ear at the same time for a better sonic image. It’s not the easiest speaker design to get right, though. Traditionally, a coaxial loudspeaker’s coverage would be quite narrow up close to the speaker and really quite different the further you retreat from it. Martin Audio took another look at the design of its waveguide. The CCD models use the speaker cone to graft a specially-designed waveguide that ensures an even, predictable dispersion pattern regardless of your proximity.

Being coaxial, it doesn’t matter which way you orient the speaker box. Merivale tends to want the speakers installed in a landscape orientation. Again, traditionally, with a regular two-way speaker box, aligning the loudspeaker ‘horizontally’ can be detrimental to the performance — listen off to one side and you’re hearing one driver before the other — but the CCD co-ax design happily swings both ways.

Justin Hemmes is extremely particular about maintaining perfect music levels within his venues regardless of where you might be sitting or standing. To attain a perfectly even coverage, you ideally need a multitude of smaller speakers, not a smaller number of large speakers, which might be caning punters near it and not reaching those more distant. Subwoofers can be located conveniently into the interior design to help round-out the sound of the smaller speakers. The Paddington has subwoofers concealed all over the place. What’s more, the more granular your control of those speakers the more you can control levels — the ‘tweakability’ levels rise considerably.

In the case of The Paddington, every two speakers effectively have their own volume knob and DSP control. To achieve this, each pair of left/right speakers needs its own amp. That’s a lot of amp channels, but it’s an expense Justin Hemme is willing to wear to ensure great sound. The amps are professional, run-‘em-all-day CMX models from QSC, while the zoning and DSP control comes from BSS Soundweb.

Technical Audio Group (Martin Audio, QSC): (02) 9519 0900 or www.tag.com.au

Bump Productions (AV Installer): (02) 9699 1166