A pioneering Hobart wine bar that’s still at the top of its game, serving snacks and bistro classics in their bustling shopfront, a wall of wine fuelling the fun times.
The nuts & bolts
- Opened 2014
- Function spaces: 25 guests
Before the confidently elegant Ettie’s opened its doors in the old Hobart Hotel building, Carl Windsor and James Kingston were best known for their North Hobart wine bar, Willing Bros. Wine Merchants, founded in 2014. Housed in an old shop front, Willing Bros. is a few hundred street numbers north up Elizabeth Street and doesn’t quite have the historic gravitas that Ettie’s commands. But what it lacks in sandstone, it makes up for in buoyant spirits and general conviviality.
Willing Bros. is a classic neighbourhood wine bar done extremely well, a tight space, more often packed than not, with an infectious buzz to it. Like any good bar, the energy of the owners and staff carry the mood, with serious wine matters dealt with expertly and with the minimum of fuss. There are around 300 bottles on the list, with many arrayed on the formidable wine wall opposite the bar, and the selection is democratic, with bins from far and wide. The by-the-glass offer stretches to 15–20 ever-changing items, with any single listing lucky to last a fortnight. There is also a healthy selection of artisanal beer and spirits on offer, with a lean towards the local.
The kitchen and the bar share pretty tight quarters, and the food is “classic, simple but full of love and flavour.” Indeed, steak frites has become the signature of Willing Bros. – simple things done well. The half dozen middling and larger plates are complemented by classic wine bar morsels – charcuterie, olives, cheese – with a couple of sides to add some green.
And while Windsor and Kingston put Ettie’s on ice in 2020 while the pandemic swirled, Willing Bros. has remained as bustling, energetic and welcoming as ever – a must visit Hobart institution. Keep an eye out for an Ettie’s reboot, too, with the duo’s plans for reopening that historic site very much on the agenda.