The Winston Alehouse and Eatery

Licensed $-$$
381 Elizabeth St, North Hobart
03) 6231 2299
Open: Kitchen open daily 5.00 to 9.30pm.

Poboys, 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’s been hamburger’d out. All just in the last 18 months of so.

An aside. Did you know that the 900 McDonalds outlets in Australia claim to serve one million customers a day? That’s only a few less than one in every 20 Australians eating a Big Mac or similar every day. Amazing!

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

Essentially it’s a pub, the Eagle Hawk Inn dating back to 1833. And, apart from cleaning up years of grunge, when Kris Miles and his American wife, Carolyn Kiehne, took it over 15 months ago, they retained most of it as a real, un-gentrified pub space centred 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 of US number plates and old-fashioned 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 poboys 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, and 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 from the ‘fridge.

Miles also says that 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 crowd in on a Thursday night, dressed in suits, floral frocks, work overalls, jeans, puffer jackets and beanies, it would seem that a very 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 for me 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 some 40 or so different US and Mexican commercial chilli sauces.

But the stand-out 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 still-intact connective tissues providing succulence and flavour. Served on grilled corn bread with richly sauced beans, it was by far the best of the many I’ve seen around town.

Their cheese burger 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, and, with their food, beers, atmosphere and prices, The Winston is proving a winner.

Hotdog $7.00; Wings 5/$8, 20/$24; taco $6.00; cheeseburger $16.00; brisket $20.00

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