Sydney Food Diary: The Unicorn Hotel, Paddington

OK. I’m confused. Yes, I am. I had this on my list of places to try since Broadsheet lauded it as amusing updated takes on Aussie cuisine (prawn cocktail, Jatz crackers) after being taken over by some of the new breed of hip, young restauranteurs turning old Aussie pubs into gastro-pubs.

After escaping the very loud main floor (Saturday night…), downstairs is dimly lit. Casual, perhaps a bit too casual.

We treated ourselves to some drinks and figured out the menu. It’s order at the counter, but the counter is a crowded, little area; the staff seem to be trying valiantly, but something wasn’t working that well that night.

My dining companion opted for the grilled kingfish (which looks so much like a steak, doesn’t it) and two sides, a bean salad and cauliflower cheese. He liked it.

I’ve never had garfish before, and was curious (photo at the top!). They’re such strange looking fish. So, butterflied garfish with seaweed butter… So, two long snarly garfish, butterflied, with a rather hefty layer of nori seaweed on top and quite a pleasant buttery, salty, lemony sauce. It was also rather cheap, this menu item, $16 compared to the $30 or so for the kingfish. But the fish was rather bony (my fault for ordering it) but had quite a few scales too (not my fault…). On the one hand, I love that they were serving an unusual fish in an unusual way, and obviously fresh from the market. But I’m not sure whether I liked the result.

On the other hand, their version of the chiko roll was pretty fantastic. I tried a few of these when I arrived in Oz, and bleck. I couldn’t understand how this was a national food. Trevor told me that when he was young, and they were made properly (fresh, not mass-produced, nicely crispy and fried), they’re good, and that’s what this was, aside from gigantic, but it was a big tasty Aussie spring roll, and they have now redeemed the chiko roll in my eyes! So, a plus or two, and a minus or two: I wanted to like this place a lot more than I did.

The Unicorn Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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