The Winston’s burgers highlight the pub’s Americaninspired menu
THE WINSTON 381 Elizabeth St, North Hobart Open daily, 4pm until late; kitchen open 5-9.30pm Licensed. 6231 2299
F ood fashions may come and go but the burger craze that began a few years ago seems here to stay. Celebrity chefs have woken up to a strategy couture designers have understood for years: use the brand to sell ready-to-wear to the masses.
In foodie terms, the process is simple enough: take an egalitarian comestible, loved and understood by all, pimp it with a bit of cheffie-bling and, to borrow a term from film director Steven Spielberg, you have the burger “re-imagined”.
One of the problems I have with this business model is many chefs can’t leave well enough alone. They assume the burger needs the help of the hatted chef but, last time I checked, the burger had been around a whole lot longer than them. There’s a reason it endures, and it’s all about keeping it simple.
Another issue I have is the cost of the chef-endorsed burger. A burger – unlike, say, the infamous smashed avocado – is supposed to be a cost-effective way to cram as many calories as possible into oneself without compromising house-deposit savings.
Call me a cynic but celebrity validation boils down to charging more for essentially the same thing, a meat patty in a roll.
Though the burger is an American concoction, we have embraced it wholeheartedly and embellished it to the point where the Americans may no longer even recognise it. The burger is indisputably part of our culinary landscape and here in Hobart we have several fine establishments devoted to it.
The Winston’s burgers at North Hobart are right up there with the best. Its pub menu borrows heavily from the American diner and barbecue-pit school of cookery and it carries it off convincingly. Think burgers, pulled pork, smoked brisket, hot dogs and onion rings.
The burgers are big, cheesy and loaded with filling. I love the way the meat is crisped on the grill, giving a textural crunch around its edges and that the condiment caddies are chockers with hot sauces arcing across the scoville spectrum. The famed Winston housemade Caroline Reaper Sauce is not among the caddy sauces, though, and must be ordered with the chicken wings. Be warned, it is very hot.
One way I rate a burger is by counting how many napkins I use while eating it, which tends to equate to how dry, juicy or even sloppy the burger is. A burger with a napkin factor of five is near-perfect in my book.
For your chin to not resemble a waxdribbled Chianti bottle on a red gingham trattoria table, I suggest the Winston cheeseburger, with a napkin factor of seven out of 10. You’d be correct in assuming the burger was a bit sloppy, but that was part of its charm. It boasted smoked American burger-cheese, special sauce, diced onion and a generous amount of gherkins between a commercial-looking bun.
Burgers may be the Winston’s forte, but the menu also features fried buffalo wings, pulled pork, slow-cooked brisket, ribs and a rotating list of specials of the southern fried variety.
There are even two massive meat platters featuring pulled this and smoked that, available to the enormously hungry. Even vegetarians get their own burgers.
There is a froth of beer choices on tap and by the bottle with the Winston’s beers taking centre stage. The night we visited, the place was heaving with good cheer and bonhomie.
So if it’s burgers, beers and conviviality you’re after, the Winston has it in spades.