A little taste of Americana
THE WINSTON ALEHOUSE AND EATERY
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.