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Paddington nightlife with Nick Mahlook

Nick Mahlook Credit: Scott Ehler

Culinary director of Public Hospitality Group, chef Nick Mahlook

#feelnewsydney

Paddington nightlife with Nick Mahlook

Nick Mahlook Credit: Scott Ehler

Culinary director of Public Hospitality Group, chef Nick Mahlook

#feelnewsydney

Hashtags #feelnewsydney

As culinary director of Public Hospitality Group, chef Nick Mahlook oversees the restaurant and bar menus at Oxford House, a lifestyle hotel with a Palm Springs aesthetic in the inner Sydney neighbourhood of Paddington. He’s also responsible for setting the direction for the food offerings at Public’s other hotels around Sydney, including the nearby Strand Hotel in Darlinghurst and the busy Redfern pub The Norfolk. Here Nick shares his tips for an indulgent night out on Oxford Street, which runs through the centre of Paddington and Darlinghurst, and its maze of side streets.

Enjoy the best of both worlds

When Oxford House opened its doors in September 2022, it brought a Palm Springs aesthetic and new energy to the inner-city suburb of Paddington. The breezy boutique hotel straddles the border of the Paddington and Darlinghurst sections of Oxford Street, which is home to some of the most vibrant boutiques and funky bars in the city.

It’s also one of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly precincts in Sydney: each February the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade makes its way along the Darlinghurst end of Oxford Street from Hyde Park in the city centre, passing iconic gay clubs such as Stonewall Hotel Sydney and Universal along the way. This end of Oxford Street is also home to the edgy music venue Oxford Art Factory and renowned bars like Shady Pines Saloon, Bitter Phew and Cliff Dive, which claim to be Sydney’s wildest watering holes

Equally LGBTQIA+-friendly, Paddington is also an epicentre of Australian fashion, with many of the most prominent local designers setting up shop around The Intersection, a precinct of upscale boutiques clustered around the intersection of Oxford Street and Glenmore Road. Further along Oxford Street, you’ll find homewares stores, hairdressers and reimagined Australian pubs like Paddo Inn and The Light Brigade alongside more fashion boutiques.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2019, Sydney Credit: Jeffrey Feng

Celebrating the colourful collision of creativity and culture across our communities, the world renowned Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade unites hundreds of thousands of revellers for the biggest night on the LGBTQI+ calendar.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2019, Sydney Credit: Jeffrey Feng

Celebrating the colourful collision of creativity and culture across our communities, the world renowned Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade unites hundreds of thousands of revellers for the biggest night on the LGBTQI+ calendar.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst Credit: Destination NSW

Patrons enjoying live music at the Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst Credit: Destination NSW

Patrons enjoying live music at the Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Discover a new favourite bar

Head down some of the many side streets leading away from Oxford Street in Paddington and you’ll find more restored neighbourhood pubs, but for a secret watering hole hidden in plain sight, walk into the lobby of Oxford House and make your way to the hip Pool Bar in the hotel’s central courtyard. “We definitely have people coming in when they’re just walking along Oxford Street,” says Oxford House’s Nick Mahlook, who devised the menu for the pool bar. “But most people don’t know we have a pool deck; they don’t know that anyone off the street can go and eat and drink there. And even though it’s a big open space, no-one knows it’s there.”

“It’s a great spot for cocktails and people-watching,” says Nick, who recommends the Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz gin fizz on tap: “It’s delicious — and we do a great grapefruit negroni [with Pampelle grapefruit aperitif as well as gin, Campari and Antica Formula vermouth]. And a spritz is always a good idea at this time of the year.”

Once you’ve settled in for a drink at the pool bar, you may not want to leave, it seems. “The bar’s open until 9 o’clock,” says Nick, “and then guests will all migrate to the restaurant out the front for dinner.” Oxford House’s food offering is expanding through a joint venture with the team behind the award-winning The Rocks cocktail bar Maybe Sammy. Taking over the Art Deco corner pub The Rose Hotel right next to Oxford House, El Primo Sanchez will serve up creative Latin American-inspired cocktails and Mexican dishes with a twist.

Oxford House, Paddington Credit: Anson Smart

Taking its cues from the understated and stylish aesthetic of Palm Springs, Oxford House - Paddington’s first lifestyle hotel- recently opened its doors on the iconic inner-city strip of Oxford Street. Featuring all day street level dining, a first level poolside bar, OH! as the hotel is affectionately known, provides an urban oasis just a short stroll from the bustling street and nightlife.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Oxford House, Paddington Credit: Anson Smart

Taking its cues from the understated and stylish aesthetic of Palm Springs, Oxford House - Paddington’s first lifestyle hotel- recently opened its doors on the iconic inner-city strip of Oxford Street. Featuring all day street level dining, a first level poolside bar, OH! as the hotel is affectionately known, provides an urban oasis just a short stroll from the bustling street and nightlife.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Oxford House, Paddington Credit: Anson Smart

Taking its cues from the understated and stylish aesthetic of Palm Springs, Oxford House - Paddington’s first lifestyle hotel- recently opened its doors on the iconic inner-city strip of Oxford Street. Featuring all day street level dining, a first level poolside bar, OH! as the hotel is affectionately known, provides an urban oasis just a short stroll from the bustling street and nightlife.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Oxford House, Paddington Credit: Anson Smart

Taking its cues from the understated and stylish aesthetic of Palm Springs, Oxford House - Paddington’s first lifestyle hotel- recently opened its doors on the iconic inner-city strip of Oxford Street. Featuring all day street level dining, a first level poolside bar, OH! as the hotel is affectionately known, provides an urban oasis just a short stroll from the bustling street and nightlife.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Venture into the side streets

If you want to venture elsewhere for dinner, Nick recommends 10 William St, a wine bar and restaurant on William Street in Paddington. “10 William is always a favourite of mine for getting a bite to eat — they have great little sharing entrees, beautiful fish, simply grilled meats, that classic Italian good stuff.”

Nick also suggests heading down to the side streets on the Darlinghurst end of Oxford Street. He’s a fan of the neighbourhood trattoria Pellegrino 2000 — “it’s kicking a lot of goals” — but his pick is Poly, a natural wine bar in the Paramount House Hotel. “Poly is one of my favourite places that I’ve eaten at this year; it’s a great spot. It’s the sister restaurant of [Chippendale restaurant] Ester, it’s got an open hearth and everything’s cooked over coals. They do really simple but interesting food with great produce.”

When the Oxford House restaurant closes for the evening, Nick and his crew are spoilt for choice for a place to go to wind down, although, he suggests tongue firmly in cheek: “Chefs don’t drink.”

“We’ve got a sister hotel, The Strand [on William Street, Darlinghurst], it’s open until 3am on the weekends,” Nick says, “so we either go there, or if The Unicorn [steps away from Oxford House on Oxford Street] is open, we go across the road. The Unicorn does some awesome meals — it’s a great pub: drinks, vibe, food, it’s got a great offer. And Big Poppa's [a hip-hop themed Italian restaurant on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst] is open until 3am — I like the food there.”

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