The Winchester: Great food in a relaxing, eclectic environment
I have to admit, I had pretty high expectations when I walked into The Winchester. The Wealthy Street restaurant, which opened in January, had gotten pretty high marks from several of my friends, and I had it on my short list of restaurants to eat at.
So, when my dining partner, Bethany, and I walked into The Winchester for the first time, we were anxious to see what it would be like. I was immediately impressed by the atmosphere of the gastro pub, and it reminded me a lot of the Green Well. While we weren’t greeted at the door, it was easy enough for us to make our way out to the patio. Expecting just a simple table setup, I was impressed with the option to sit at a wooden bar surface. Despite that option, we opted for a table.
As soon as we were seated, we were promptly greeted by our waiter, who helped answer the several questions that we had regarding the menu. I was impressed by his knowledge of all the ingredients, half of which we had never heard of before. Bethany also noted that he was wearing a “really neat shirt,” which was completely black with the restaurant’s signature logo on the bottom in green. I have to admit, it was a really cool shirt for a restaurant to provide.
We took a look at the menu, and I think both of us were pretty impressed with the plethora of options available to us. The sandwich and meat entrees seemed to be pretty reasonable, and were a little beyond what you would typically find in a gastro pub. It took us a while to make up our decision, but eventually Bethany went with the reuben, and I the pulled pork sandwich. For sides, Bethany ordered grilled veggies, while I opted for the Yucca fries.
The wait for our food was a little above average, but it certainly wasn’t unreasonable. As we were waiting though, I took a look around. I looked straight ahead to the restaurant parking lot, which had a run-down (but under construction) building right on the other side of it. Then, to my right, was of course Wealthy Street. Not really a great view from any direction, but I’m confident that this may change in the future. And the quality of the food definitely made up for it.
Both of our sandwiches came on a fresh ciabatta roll. The reuben featured the restaurant’s alternative to sauerkraut, which we were told didn’t contain mayonnaise, and was a little sweeter. Somehow, Bethany got out that this “tasted like a doughnut.” To her, that was a huge plus.
My sandwich featured loads of pulled pork along with some onion rings (not breaded). While I’m not usually an onion guy, I happen to love onion rings. Even without being fried and breaded, these were a great addition to the sandwich, and really gave it some extra flavor. The barbecue sauce used was a perfect blend of sweet and spicy; it certainly didn’t take away from the warm, flavorful meat.
But what in the world are Yucca fries? They reminded me of your standard french (or freedom) fry, just a little thicker. Our waiter told us that Yucca is a vegetable similar to a potato. To me, it seemed a little cleaner than a potato. The Winchester kicked it up a notch by serving them with a great dipping sauce, which was almost like a basilly pesto ranch. Needless to say, these were very good.
In addition to the great food, The Winchester has a pretty good beer and wine menu. Happy Hour goes all the way until 7 p.m. during the week, offering $3 pints.
We were caught by a few unexpected visitors flying around halfway into our meal, which happened to really want to indulge into Bethany’s sandwich. We moved to the outdoor mini-bar area, which was also a relaxing and comfortable place to enjoy the rest of our meal. Plus, the “visitors” didn’t follow us.
On our way out of the restaurant, though, we noted that it was pretty loud for an indoors environment, but probably typical for a pub. The scenery certainly fits in well with what the restaurant is trying to do, and adds to the relaxed and eclectic nature, but it was just a little too loud for our tastes. We were definitely glad we chose to sit outside over experiencing the loud, somewhat crowded indoor scene.
Overall, though, The Winchester blends the Wealthy neighborhood and a pub perfectly. It offers reasonable prices, provides a great, eclectic atmosphere and has phenomenal food. It’s the perfect place after a day at work.Winchester, The ( Rating: out of 5 )
Where: 648 Wealthy St. SE
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday; Noon to 2 a.m. Sunday
Ambiance: Eclectic, neighborhood pub
How much will it cost you: Entrees cost between $7 and $13
Credit cards: All major
Contact: (616) 451-4WOW