Samson’s Paddock is a local that lives up to its Colonial-era origins as a rest stop, with understated, bistro-style cuisine. So smoothly does it balance its twin identities of bar and neighbourhood restaurant that dining here feels like eating at home with friends.

Sink into a leather sofa by the fire with pre-dinner drinks or sip Champagne in the sun-drenched courtyard when the weather is clement. As befits an establishment specialising in whisky — on its own or with steak pairings — a glass of single malt is presented with theatre and aplomb, arriving with a house-made cacao palate-cleanser alongside traditional companions, ice — a single, outsized cube — and water with its own dropper.

But whisky isn’t the only A-game played here. Chef Georgi Partenov dishes up fare so smashing it blew us out of, well, the paddock. Slow-cooked Wagyu rib fingers — marinated in sticky black soy, ginger and garlic and topped with house-made kimchi — dissolve on the tongue in a profusion of tangy-sweet Asian flavours.

His meltingly sumptuous 12-hour cooked pork belly with corn and peppers in a honey tamarind sauce is worth crossing town for. For classic perfection try the duck breast. Desserts are without peer.

Vegetarians take note: even the tofu rates.

The clincher is the unexpected brilliance and restraint of the food and service in such an unprepossessing storefront in Mosman Park. Neighbourhood restaurants don’t come better.