The first thing you’ll notice when walking into Freddie Wimpoles, in St Kilda, is the massive deer-head overlooking the bar. It’s real, and it’s spectacular.
Freddie Wimpoles is a fairly recent addition to the St Kilda landscape and no doubt a welcome sight for beer lovers who, outside of the Local Taphouse, have long been short of good craft beer options in that area. FW’s is aiming to fill that gap with 13 rotating taps, plus bottles and cans (for takeaway too), to go alongside their 180 or so spirits.
The decor feels like you’re in one of those Alaskan bars you see in movies. You know the ones, locals blow in out of the snow and someone is drunk and a little angry about a long standing gripe. There’s a pool table, a jukebox in the corner, and someone will probably die on the way home. In this case it’s a lot friendlier, but the pool table and jukebox are there; and I can honestly say I’m not sure if every patron made it home safely. Let’s keep this light, however, and assume yes.
Ornate deer antler lightshades and a wall of beer cans also feature, along with plenty of seating along the front of the bar.
Their food consists mostly of “Subs”, and while I have a hunch they aren’t strictly “subs” by definition, I have to admit I’m not entirely sure what the definition of a “sub” is. I know the USA is incredibly pedantic about their sandwich variations (ask anyone from Philly their opinion on local versions of “cheesesteak” then buckle in for a wild ride of aggressive lecturing). While there were no cheesesteaks on this menu, Americana favourites such as Tuna Melt, French Dip, Ruben (sic. Don’t yell at me, sandwich lovers) and Cuban are present and accounted for.
On our visit we chose a French Dip ($16) and a Tuna Melt ($16). The former consisting of Roast beef, horseradish, and beef juice for dipping; while the latter being fresh tuna, confit garlic and Moondog Lovetap aioli, red onion, and grilled mozzarella. While $16 may seem high for a sandwich, they both arrive with bowls of pickles, and crisps/chips on the side so it seemed about right. Both also had beer pairings recommended on the menu, which is always a nice touch for those unsure how to navigate their rotating taplist.
The French Dip was lovely. Horseradish and roast beef are best friends when jammed between a bread roll, and when you have a beef juice to dip it into, what have you got to complain about? It was meaty, rich, and filling.
The Tuna Melt was probably our favourite of the two though. Crunchy ciabatta, tasty tuna and melted cheese. It was textural, and comforting. Exactly what you want on a Melbourne winter’s night. My guest opted for the Brooklyn Lager pairing with this and agreed it was spot on, while also noting she’d never had Brooklyn Lager that tasted so fresh. Now that it’s brewed in Adelaide under contract at Cooper’s she was probably right.
While a venue like this is always going to feel a bit contrived. Searching hard for that American vibe that everyone loves so much, it feels like they have got it right at Freddie Wimpoles. Sure the decor treads the line between kitsch and parody, and the sandwiches may not pass the discerning eyes of a sandwich nazi; but the beer list is interesting and the food was exactly what it needed to be.
If you find yourself in that part of the world searching for a casual beer and meat in buns, then it should definitely rank high on your list.
Contact: Freddie Wimpoles – 125 Fitzroy St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia. Ph. 03 9525 5599. Website.
Find Luke from AleOfATime at http://aleofatime.com where he spouts his knowledge as the guru of Australian (but mostly Victorian) craft beer. I have learnt everything I know from listening to his podcast – which you need to iTunes right now. Also Twitter and Facebook.