Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hog & Rocks - 3431 19th St., between Mission and Valencia, SFCA


    I'd heard a lot of good press about this place, and when my friends John and Rachel offered to treat me for my birthday I just couldn't say no. The specialty here, implied by the name, is ham and oysters. I love my oysters, but I think these days people make too much of a fuss over them, which of course makes them more precious and expensive. As far as I'm concerned, any oyster from the West Coast of North America isn't worth more than a $1.50, which is what we paid for these Reach Island Oysters (18). Also, it's kinda silly to describe oysters like you're talking about wine, with terms like 'kiwi-like finish', 'crisp melon' or 'hint of seaweed'. Really? What kind of seaweed? Kelp? Hijiki? Irish Moss"? At any rate, these oysters filled the bill, although I could've used some cocktail sauce instead of mignonette.
   Next we see the Delta Asparagus Salad (12), which combines peeled asparagus with crispy pork belly, boiled egg, watercress and a caper vinaigrette. This was quite good - it just needed more asparagus for $12!
    The 'hog' part of the equation involves your choice of five different cured hams. All but one are $12, the fifth one $11 per serving. We opted for the Ham Tasting Plate (18, small). Our choices were the Father's (Kentucky) aged 12 months; the La Quercia Picante (Iowa) aged 9 months; and the Monte Nevado Jamon Serrano (Spain) aged 15 months. I'd have trouble picking a favorite, because these were all quite tasty.
   Next on the agenda was the Steelhead Trout Jar (8), basically a sandwich spread. This was a big hit, requiring some extra bread because we damn near licked that jar out. They also have a pimento cheese jar, a chicken liver jar and a pickle jar. These all make for good bar snacks if you're not dining whole hog (so to speak).
   Hush Puppies (5) are near and dear to my heart, and after having eaten a million of them on our North Carolina BBQ tour in 2009, I've set a standard. I'm afraid these are not quite up to snuff. They were heavy and I couldn't detect any onion, which you need unless you're making the jalapeno/cheddar variety. The sauce was a novel approach, being a sweet honey and hot pepper concoction.
   All of us at table love our Brussels Sprouts (6) and while these were well-cooked, they were not particularly distinguishable from the sprouts you get in a lot of restos these days.
   We decided one dessert would be enough, and it's a good thing we did. That glass you see the Chocolate Brownie Parfait (8) in is the size of a regular ice cream soda glass. Boy, was it good! I could eat one right now.
   Overall, I like this place and I'm intrigued by some of the other dishes on the menu, such as the Beef Tongue Potato Skins and the Chicken and Cheddar Pie. They have a full bar, with eight draft beers available in 12oz, 20oz and pitchers, as well as 16oz cans of Red Stripe and Pilsner Urquell. There is a small but adequate wine list, and some of the non-alcoholic drinks include lemon ginger soda, vanilla cream soda and Abita root beer.
   To see the menu, go to www.hogandrocks.com

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