Monday, July 14, 2014

Delicious BBQ at Hog Shack Cook House

Hog Shack Cook House on UrbanspoonThere are different BBQ styles in the US, so even if two BBQ houses look like they are serving the "same" thing, they may not be. Not exactly, anyway. For starters, Hog Shack should definitely not be compared to the not-slathered-in-bbq-sauce Carolina style served at Peckinpah. Their "Kansas-city style" is much closer to Memphis Blues, but I'm going to be cautious about making direct comparisons.

It looks pretty big on the outside, but Hog Shack is not that big on the inside. Reservations are recommended as they sometimes close earlier on slow days.

Online menus don't necessarily match the actual menus for the price of items, so if a couple dollars more upsets you, call first I guess, or swing by and have a look at the menu. Trying to make reservations online (e.g., through Facebook) can result in complications, so talking to a live person is preferred. I tried reservations online and even though I had two communications with them, my reservation did not appear in their reservations book on the night we had dinner. This turned out trickier than I thought because it was also a World Cup game night and they were packed around 7pm-ish.

We managed to pull together six gung-ho persons so we got Allan's Mammoth Platter. It supposedly feeds "4+". You could probably get away with clearing the platter plus the six sides if your four persons were hungry teens or hockey players. We were six and we just managed to clear it with barely enough room for two slices of pecan pie to share -- despite initial impressions of the plate not being very meaty, especially as ribs have a sizeable bone component to them. On the website it says $99 but it was $105 on the paper menu.

Baby back ribs, St. Louis Side Ribs, Dino Ribs
  • I only found two types of ribs -- a wide rack and a couple of shorter two-bone pieces -- so I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe the rest of the party was quicker on the draw and some of them disappeared.
  • Not much meat here (ribs are ribs, I guess) and compared to the rest of the meat, the toughest meat was here as well. Not chewy tough, but nothing impressive either. Some sawing was required with the provided steak knives, and the meat didn't come easily off the bone.
Chicken Quarters
  • We got two leg-and-thigh pieces. Pretty tender and flavourful dark meat. Otherwise nothing to write home about.
Smoked Brisket
  • Falling-apart tender slices. Probably the best item in the platter, followed by the pulled pork and sausages.
Pulled Pork
  • Rather wet/very moist. Not like the dryer needs-more-sauce stuff you might have encountered in food cart sandwiches.
Smoked sausages
  • A few half-in-thick sections, just over an inch in diameter. Maybe 8 pieces. Not sure this added up to a whole sausage. Tasty in a safe slightly salty way. Nothing bold in flavour here, and I think that made it disappointing for me.
6 sides (out of 8 possibilities): Coleslaw, Yam Fries, Baked Beans, Spanish Rice Pilaf,  Sauteed Vegetables, Potato Wedges, Hand-Cut Fries, Corn Bread.
  • We skipped the sauteed vegetables and hand-cut fries.
  • Baked Beans were strongly on the sweet side (maple syrup?). Not too sweet, but sweet enough that I would recommend you have it with the corn bread.
  • Rice Pilaf was surprisingly good. Could have used a spoon and a separate bowl so we didn't have to hunt around for it.
  • Sides very very varied in quantity. The weak amount of potato wedges were made up with a generous portion of yam fries.
Overall what I liked most about the meats at Hog Shack Cook House was that I never once reached for a condiment -- especially not extra barbecue sauce. In some places, your platters come with extra sauce on the side. But not here.
What I found weak about the platter was the individual quantities of items. It seemed weighted toward ribs, and there wasn't that much pulled pork or brisket to go around that you could really get a proper second helping when shared with 4-6 persons. Somehow it was very filling, however.

For dessert, we opted for the pecan pie ($7). Served with whipped cream and a drizzle of bitter chocolate sauce. I thought this was a smallish Yaletown-sized slice (a wedge maybe 5" long, 1.5" tall at the outer edge) for the price, but it was at least tasty in a solid pecan pie sort of way. Gooey and sweet, but again not so sweet that it burned the back of your throat. If you do find it too sweet, temper it with some whipped cream or contrast it with some of the chocolate sauce.

Other than having forgotten to record my reservation (and only fortunately finding room for us) -- which I trust was a fluke occurance, service was okay and water regularly topped up.

Our very filling dinner came out to $25 per person (including tax and tip).

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