A new restaurant in 2009 and advertised as a Gastro Pub, The Winchester was recommended by a friend so we dropped in for lunch today. It’s a beautiful place, brick interior walls, open ceiling, all-wood bar, and wooden tables & chairs. It reminded us a little of O’Toole’s but smaller. It’s long and narrow, bar on one side, small tables on the opposite wall, two high tables in the middle, high tables for six, more tables for two, and a couple of booths in the rear. The small tables are the major problem. If you take one of them, you are dining with the people next to you; uncomfortably close. Even though we were only two, we took a high table for six so we could talk, just to ourselves. If we had to move, we would have headed to the bar to sit but they let us be. Summer dining would be better as there's a large outdoor patio.
What exactly is a Gastro Pub? There was no information on the menu so we looked it up. Apparently it’s a British term that combines Pub (Public House) with Gastronomy, i.e., a pub that specializes in serving quality food. So more pub than restaurant but with really good food. It makes sense, but then is the Green Well really a Gastro Pub? It's more restaurant than pub. But that's for another time.
Service was prompt, friendly, and informative, and we started with Cast Iron Skillet Shrimp. Featuring Tiger Shrimp (native to West Pacific and widely farmed in southeast Asia), with freshly chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, and roasted red peppers, it was great; the flavoring was subtle and didn’t overwhelm the shrimp.
For our main dishes, we ordered one of the day’s lunch specials, Skirt Steak Tacos, and one off the menu, the Pulled Pork Sandwich. We like to think that the specials will be “special” but sometimes they are just items the restaurant wants to move. Today that was probably not the case. The two Skirt Steak Tacos came nicely presented with fresh tomato, shredded lettuce, sour cream, house-made vegetable salsa, and a wedge of lime. The meat was medium-rare in one taco and medium in the other - not sure how that happened but they were good. Tortillas are made in-house, which is unusual in a non-Mexican restaurant, and the lime wedge was a nice touch.
The Pulled Pork sandwich fared equally as well. The slow-cooked pork came with haystack onions and house-made barbecue sauce on ciabatta bread. The barbecue sauce had a nice kick to it and the ciabatta was fresh and soft. Plaintain chips accompanied the sandwich and they were interesting.
The food is fresh, from local food sources, and/or homemade and the menu is varied and creative. Pricing is reasonable with each sandwich priced at $8.50. It's a great spot for lunch and a nice addition to the Eastown area.