A lit­tle taste of Amer­i­cana

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASTE - Graeme Phillips


381 El­iz­a­beth St, North Ho­bart. Li­censed. Kitchen open daily 5pm to 9.30pm. 6231 2299

PO’ BOYS, slid­ers, pops, hot­dogs, fry sauce, smoked brisket, pulled 18- hour ev­ery­thing, Tex/ Mex, gringo/ Mex, cock­tails and mock­tails – we’ve been in­vaded by Amer­ica. Plus, of course, Ho­bart has been ham­burg­ered out. All just in the past 18 months.

An aside: did you know the 900 McDon­ald’s out­lets in Aus­tralia claim to serve a mil­lion cus­tomers a day? That means al­most one in ev­ery 20 Aus­tralians are eat­ing a Big Mac or sim­i­lar ev­ery day. Amaz­ing.

But, for all the re­cent Amer­i­cana around in Ho­bart, The Win­ston is the real deal.

It’s es­sen­tially a pub, in­side the Ea­gle Hawk Inn, which dates to 1833. And, apart from clean­ing up years of grunge, when Kris Miles and wife Carolyn Kiehne took over 15 months ago, they re­tained most of it as a real, un- gen­tri­fied pub space around a cen­tral, well- stocked, U- shaped bar.

The rest of the space, more or less sep­a­rated from the bar by a pool ta­ble, they turned into a full- on Amer­i­can diner, with a wall cov­ered in US num­ber plates and old­fash­ioned beer, Coke and bour­bon posters, a cor­ner stand for their reg­u­lar live jazz, blues and rock­a­billy bands and a menu as Amer­i­can as pecan pie run­ning from spe­cials of Mary­land- spiced blue swim­mer crabs, to Kiehne’s mum’s beef loaf, to the ubiq­ui­tous po’ boys of New Or­leans.

Kiehne is from Bal­ti­more and, she says, has al­ways been pas­sion­ate about food. Miles is equally pas­sion­ate about craft beers, so they make a good team.

You can ac­com­pany your meal with a choice of 12 ever- chang­ing ar­ti­sanal beers from around the world on tap – tast­ings pro­vided – or a truly global se­lec­tion of 100 and more bot­tled bou­tique lagers, ales, stouts, porters, ciders and bar­ley wines.

Miles said on his trips to the US he be­came a con­vert to the sort of food Kiehne grew up with. And, judg­ing by the fam­i­lies and the mixed age and gen­der of the crowd on a Thurs­day night, dressed in suits, flo­ral frocks, work over­alls, jeans, puffer jack­ets and beanies, it would seem a large and di­verse range of lo­cals have be­come con­verts, too.

And I can see why. The fries and onion rings were nicely crisp; a hot­dog with mus­tard and ketchup was as good as any I had in New York; the soft- shell taco was freshly made from real masa with a chicken fill­ing that was more Amer­i­can than Mex­i­can; and there was a pleas­ing lip tingle of spice in the stuffed and deep- fried jalapeno chill­ies and deep- fried wings, which you could ramp up to taste from about 40 dif­fer­ent US and Mex­i­can commercial chilli sauces.

But the stand­out dish for me was the brisket. Rather than hav­ing been slow- cooked for hours, it had been braised nor­mally and then smoked. As a re­sult, it was gum- ten­der but still beau­ti­fully moist with no stringi­ness, the still­intact con­nec­tive tis­sues pro­vid­ing suc­cu­lence and flavour. Served on grilled corn­bread with richly sauced beans, it was by far the best of the many I’ve seen around town.

Their cheese­burger was also one of the bet­ter ones around, with a huge, 250gm beef patty charred on the edges and medium pink in­side with melted cheese, mayo and strips of gherkin in a soft bun of a size you could get your mouth around. And there were ex­tra add- ins if you wanted.

Apart from the breads, they pro­duce ev­ery­thing in house, even smok­ing their fresh chill­ies. With their food, beers, at­mos­phere and prices, The Win­ston is prov­ing a win­ner.

Price list: hot­dog $ 7; wings 5 for $ 8, 20 for $ 24; taco $ 6; cheese­burger $ 16; brisket $ 20.

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