Tom McHugo’s: Good Wine, Good Veggies
by James Marten
When I was younger, the things I looked for in a pub were somewhere with a comfy bar stool, cheap drinks, a social crowd and a few hot chips. As I’ve aged (hopefully gracefully), my pub ‘wishlist’ has too. With two kids now accompanying my pub visits, bar stools are impractical, my penchant for cheap drinks has morphed into wanting just one or two really good glasses of wine or beer, and while I still need hot chips (for the kids), I prefer something a bit more interesting on the menu. After visiting a few times both with my family and with friends, it seems Tom McHugo’s (87 Macquarie Street, Hobart) hits a few things on that wish list quite nicely.
The drinks list sets the tone for me – genuine effort has gone into the list here. It’s ever changing and always interesting. On my latest visit one of my favourite wine labels, Ochota Barrels Fugazi ($14), is being poured by the glass, so I snapped that up.
Pub menus usually follow a pattern…a few entrees, burgers, schnitties, steak and proteins, fried stuff, maybe a few options like pasta, a pie or a roast. Tom McHugo’s is a little different. This menu is for sharing and exploring. To start, you need to try the cheese breads ($8) at least once, and they’re best enjoyed hot, straight off the pass. And we can’t go past garlic bread ($7), which is textbook delicious.
The chicken schnitzel and chips ($15) is generous and you can add a sauce like green peppercorn or cafe de Paris butter ($2). It’s a good base to build a meal around and can be easily shared by two little kids. The chicken sandwich ($14) is enjoyed by my six year old, albeit with schnitty subbed in instead of the usual black pepper chicken. He loved it. The confit chicken maryland is served with lentils, leek cream and delicata squash ($26) and the Littlewood lamb mince and black pepper pie with mushy peas and gravy ($18) is enjoyed by two of our party, who both rave about the ‘lambiness’ of the meat.
But it’s the vegetables, which are sourced directly from local growers, where chef and co-owner Tom Westacott shines. Roast pumpkin is served with vadouvan butter ($14), which is delicious smeared on the schnitzel. Vadouvan is a French version of curry powder, salty and spiced. Artichoke, chard and cheddar come together under a gratin topping ($12) and sauteed greens with tomatillo ($6) also have a hint of Indian spice and disappear quickly. The leaf salad with mustard dressing ($5) is essential ordering.
It’s cliched, but save room for dessert. The brewer’s malt pie with malt cream ($10) should never be taken off the menu and the fried apple pie ($12) is samosa-like, filled with pureed apple.
Tom McHugo’s is open for dine-in and takeaway from Tuesday to Saturday, 11.30am-9pm. Book ahead, or try your luck with a walk in.