Nestled among the rows of pristine white townhouses in the residential streets near Paddington (and a world away from the chaos that surrounds the station), The Cleveland Arms claims with good reason to have been ‘Paddington’s local since 1852’.
The front of the pub is taken up mainly with punters stopping for a drink at the bar or enjoying a glass of wine by the large windows looking onto Chilworth Street. If you’re feeling hungry, impeccably dressed staff lead would-be diners through the shabby-chic pub to the small and cosy area at the back where the kitsch decor has been done in a subtle and stylish way.
Rising star chef Elisabeth Passédat (previously at Aster in Victoria) heads up the kitchen and her appealingly simple modern European menu changes with the seasons – so don’t get too attached to any one dish.
Roasted beetroot with soft-boiled egg and black mustard dressing or chicken rillettes with sourdough and cornichons might be followed by roasted aubergine with sesame, couscous and za’atar or Barbary duck breast with salsify, polenta and cardamom jus, with a vegan Eton mess to finish.
One thing that does stay static, however, is the Sunday roast. Fresh-tasting smoked salmon with dill and pickled cucumber makes a light prelude to the main event of thinly sliced, melt-in-the-mouth roast topside of beef. It is served with all the trimmings of creamy and subtle horseradish, sweet carrots, crisp roasties and small and fluffy Yorkshire puddings to fill with silky gravy.
Busy with families both young and old, girly catch-ups and couples alike, The Cleveland Arms, like any good pub, appeals to a broad cross section of society. From the buzzy atmosphere and approachable staff to the hearty dishes coming out of the kitchen, its status as Paddington’s favourite local looks safe for some years to come.