From the exterior, the Grand National Hotel in Paddington is like any other local pub: It’s located on the corner of an unassuming street, and no doubt a majority of its patrons are locals after a mid-week swig and feed.
But what sets it apart from most local pubs in town is the quality of the food. It may feature the usual pub affairs including steak, chicken schnitzel, burgers, and pie of the day, as well as the weekly specials we all love, but at the Grand National they make the food shines as much as the noticeably industrial-chic decor.
Tonight’s special is two-for-one steak, which for $24 for two 300g rump steaks cooked to your liking plus a generous service of your choice of mash or chips, and salad is not a bad deal at all. Often when rump steaks are served up, especially on specials night, it can be a bit hit-miss as it’s occasionally overcooked, lacks flavour, or the quality of the steak is just a bit battered, but the Grand National has given the steaks a crispy charring while the inside remains rosy pink when sliced.
Alongside our mains, we’re tempted by the “to begin or to share” part of the menu, opting for sweet corn and chorizo croquettes, and salt and pepper baby calamari. Based on these two dishes, the kitchen has some good deep-frying skills; both come out steaming, crispy, and non-greasy.
The coating on he calamari is light, and has a well-balanced level of salt and pepper. It comes accompanied with a sweet soy-based dipping sauce. While it’s appreciated the kitchen is trying to keep with the Asian theme of the dish, the sweetness of the sauce overpowers the salty and pepperiness of the batter. But on request, the creamy aioli does the trick, making it an easy dish to pick at all night.
The chorizo and corn croquettes takes the form of the old chicken and corn roll that we use to be able to pick up at the school canteen or milk bars. The coating is fine, but unlike the stuff we use to get back in the days these croquettes have been deep-fried until golden brown. It’s the generous amount of chorizo littered throughout though that makes the dish unexpectedly fiery, and a step up from your average croquette.
By Aimee C, Community Table – The People Behind The Food.