The Unicorn, Paddington

Eat, Sydney / 2 December 2015

The return of The Unicorn.

Could it be that long suffering Oxford Street is coming back to life? With the likes of Infinity BakeryThe Paddington, and The Chicken Shop on the scene, the strip looks like it’s on the up! We’re excited to also inform you all that the newly revamped The Unicorn is about to open and join the Paddo ranks. Ms Darlinghurst caught up with co-owner Oscar McMahon (brewer at Young Henry’s) while darting around town in the new Skoda Fabia recently to find out more.
The Unicorn has had few different incarnations over the years, think 70s roller disco and the illustrious Fringe Bar, but they’re all in the past now that foodie dream team McMahon, Elvis Abrahanowicz (Porteño) and Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (Mary’s Burgers) have joined forces. McMahon laughs, “Four friends walked into a pub. It’s really cool, we’re all really excited, we’re at the really fun part. At the moment, you know like, the wood bar top arrived the other day, the tiles have finished being made. It’s really exciting. We’re laying in new bar lines, we’re fitting more beer taps and you know, the new boiler is on the way. It’s exciting.”
It certainly is exciting. We can’t wait to see what the boy’s combined talents will create. McMahon says, “This is not another Porteño, and this is not another Mary’s, and it’s not Young Henry’s. It’s four people from those businesses getting together and creating a new business. And anything that we have done in any of our respective businesses, we’ve done because we truly believe in it and because we love it. That’s one of the things that actually is the same about Porteño, Young Henry’s and Mary’s. We’re all doing what we do because we believe in it and love it, and we’re just applying that same ethos to the pub. It’s just going to be this beautiful thing that we love”.
He says of their new space “we just loved the pub, we loved the shell of it, we love the look of it, and so we’re just going to make it how we like it. Hopefully other people will too.”
Much of their excitement and love comes from the fact that none of the boys had ever thought that they would ever open a pub. “It just seemed, for some reason, unattainable,” says McMahon. “And then yeah, the lease came up, and everyone just went, ‘Well fuck. Let’s move a couple of things around and let’s do this!’”
There were discussion to change the name but ultimately they decided to keep it. “Why fuck around with it? You know?” McMahon laughs, “Just own it, it’s The Unicorn.”
Visitors can expect a two level pub with an outdoor courtyard. Upstairs will have “a sort of big bar through the centre of the room, which will have beautiful wooden bar tops…banquette seating and a pool table.” Downstairs will have more seating, tables and booths, and most importantly the kitchen. “And there’s a little bar opposite the kitchen as well, so there’ll be people making drinks and obviously noise and kerfuffle of the kitchen. And just outside, we’ve got a little courtyard for 42 people. And we’ve made the decision to not have smoking out there. We would much rather people sit around, eat and drink and enjoy themselves than having it as a ciggie butt den.”
The focus of the new Unicorn is the food. McMahon maintains that it’s “not in a fancy, sort of gastro-pub style. It’s going to be simple pub fare that’s just taken to the next level and done really well.” Meat lovers will enjoy the menu. There will be Mary’s burgers on offer as well as “an everyday steak and a fancy steak”. McMahon says, “We basically want to have a really, really incredible but affordable steak. We’re talking about an under $20 steak that you can just go in and sit down at the bar and have a steak and a beer on a Tuesday night. And then the fancy steak is going to be that little bit more expensive, and you know, a couple extra trimmings and fanciness added to it.”
Look out for the curiously titled ‘Seagull Hour’. “It’s a little concept we’re working on, kind of like Happy Hour, but it’s more food based. There may or may not be free chips.”
As their running the joint, the boys are having things the way they like it. This is reflected in their drinks list. There’ll be cocktails but the emphasis is on the wine and beer. “The wine is going to be all Australian and natural focused,” says McMahon. “So lots of mineral sulphites, minimal intervention. Naturally made Australian wines, which is really exciting. We’ve got a few people that are actually putting together some wine specifically for the pub, which is exciting. We’re (also) going to have a really good mix of Australian-owned craft beers and Resch’s, cause Jake and Kenny really love drinking Resch’s.”
The question is now when is the launch. But McMahon doesn’t give anything away. “We’re going to open when we’re ready. Early December at the latest.” We’re told it will be before Christmas. Not long to go then. We can’t wait!
The Unicorn
106 Oxford St, Paddington
*This interview was done in the new Skoda Fabia. Read more about that here and watch the full video below: