DINING OUT: Hometown Secret + The Winston
by Stephanie Williams
181 Liverpool Street, Hobart, www.hometownsecret.com.au
I’d seen the bright, canary yellow exterior of Hometown Secret enough times to be intrigued to head inside. But where is the hometown? And what is the secret?
Once the craving for steamed dumplings takes hold, it’s a difficult one to shake. The sticky and soft pastry, then doused in soy sauce and vinegar, it’s so satisfying. Hometown Secret serves South East Asian favourites and recently added yum cha dishes to their menu. We popped in for a quick lunch with the in-laws just as the weather turned into next level, nasty cold.
The fogged windows created a sense of mystery, and once inside, we were led to a whole section out the back that I didn’t realise existed. The space was bright and clean, with a huge piece of wall art made from the steamer baskets. My in laws opted for a sneaky glass of wine, and I ordered a milk tea coffee, which was super sweet and gave me just the hit to get back to the office and punch out an afternoon of productive work!
Given the honour (responsibility!) of ordering for the table, I go for a pretty wide selection of yum cha favourites and a couple of house specialities, expertly advised by our waitperson. We start with BBQ Scottsdale Pork buns with fluffy dough encasing a sweet savoury pork filling. Classic pork buns. The steamed prawn dumplings and pork and prawn dim sums satisfy the craving for steamed pastry, and the Sichuan spicy prawn wontons blow all our heads off, in a good way!
We hit the fried section – long batons of super crispy spring rolls are filled with garlic prawns. While they’re not my favourite item, I was pretty impressed with the level of crunch they had! The pan fried pork dumplings are tasty but could do with a little more filling. The stand out dish for me was a seemingly simple one – bean curd skin rolls, doused in oyster sauce. So what is the secret – I’d say that it’s a good spot for a satisfying dim sum hit, with good service and central location.
Corner of Federal and Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
Sometimes an outing doesn’t have to be anything other than satisfying a craving: a beer, some fried chicken, and a game of pool with a mate. A recent visit to The Winston after an overwhelming week of work during Dark Mofo was needed to fill that beer and chicken sized cup again. While my body was probably in need of vegetables (I’m not sure if celery sticks on the side of fried chicken counts), my stomach and head were begging for an easy night of snacks and a wee little beer. We started the night perched at the bar where friendly bartenders had me sorted with a German-style lager from Western Australia quick smart. With my thirst eased, we soon followed with chippies topped with chilli (the meat kind, $9) and a basket of southern fried chicken wings (10 for $14). Our fried snacks were fresh from the fryer, well seasoned and salty, complete with a good number of those little crunchy, oily fries that everyone silently loves to search for: textbook snacks to snavel while our game of pool got underway.
The Winston is very much a local watering hole during the week, plenty of young crowds conversing over a pint around the bar or fire, and always a coin on the pool table. Previous visits have seen young families having an easy night out (no cutlery needed!) and couples on a date night, it really is a pub for everyone. There’s plenty to look at inside, with a considerable amount of dog pictures pasted up the walls, different currencies lining the bar and a wall of number plates from around the world, not forgetting the arcade games to keep the little, and big ones entertained. Whilst I sadly fell at the last hurdle and lost the game. I like to think my lucky shots were fuelled from our snacks and I slept that night like someone with a belly full of fries and hops…very well.
Open 7 days from 4pm, kitchen from 5.