The name isn't the only thing that's changed at The Duke of Edinburgh, but it's perhaps the most telling. Reopening tomorrow as The Duke of Enmore, the reskinned Sydney pub is billing itself as one for the neighbourhood, which on the Stanmore end of Enmore Road means natural wines on the drinks list, rejigged classics on the menu and DJs spinning pub-disco tunes on weekends.
Leading the charge are James Wirth and Michael Delany of hospitality group International Worldwide, the collective that revamped such pubs as The Norfolk and The Oxford Tavern. Together they've led a renovation that's seen The Duke's interior and layout tweaked, the furniture replaced, the beer garden made-over and large windows installed to open up the venue to Enmore Road.
Joel Amos, of online "purveyors of fine grape juice" DRNKS, is overseeing the drinks list, while Toby Wilson, of Ghostboy Cantina and Bad Hombres, is breaking away from his own brand of Mexican food to focus on pub classics with a twist.
"The menu is almost split in two," says Wilson. "There are sharable snacks on one side and classic pub dishes on the other".
The Duke's snacks are geared towards fun, the likes of salt-and-pepper enoki mushrooms and spicy Nashville-style school prawns, perhaps, or a salad of peach, tomato and LP's mortadella served with burrata. There's also a "one-hander" mini sandwich filled with fried mortadella, shoestring fries, American cheese and mustard.
On the larger side Wilson is serving roast porchetta with white beans and salsa verde, as well as vegetarian and vegan-friendly share dishes, including a whole roasted cauliflower. There are two types of steak – a flank and a 400-gram dry-aged sirloin – both served French-bistro style with skin-on fries and lemon-herb butter. While a panko-crumbed parmigiana with mozzarella and basil, also available in a vegan eggplant version, steers clear of the sop and sog of so many parmigiana's of pub dinner's past. "It's a cleaner, more Italian approach to the Aussie pub classic", he says.
Joel Amos's wine list offers a range of easy-drinking global and local bottles, as well as a rotating by-the-glass selection that leans towards the natural and unusual, plus there'll be a range of take-home bottles and packs at the bottle shop. Cocktails include batched classics such as Manhattans and Negronis, as well as more eclectic house specialities, including the Robert Mitchum, made with JD, egg, orange juice and maple syrup.
It's another win for Enmore after a slew of openings that have breathed new life into the area, including the likes of Jacoby's, P&V, Queen Chow, Saga and Wish Bone. As for whether this means Wilson is leaving Mexican food behind entirely? He says, "Si, for now," which means we can only hope it's not the end. Until then it's late nights and pub-disco all the way.