Bring your friends. All of them, if you can, because chances are you’ll want a taste of everything on the menu at Hoghouse. Start with a selection from the snacks menu: the sweet and sticky pig’s tails are little morsels of meaty popcorn, while the barbecue chicken wings doused in a home-made version of Sriracha will have you fighting over dipping rights to the last dollop of sauce. The Scotch egg with black pudding and pickles is just as tempting.
One of the snacks – the bacon and boerenkaas croquettes with kimchi aioli. Photo supplied.
After snacks it’s on to the main event: barbecue. Chef PJ Vadas smokes his meat the old-fashioned way – low and slow – before cuts are fired up on the wood-burning grill in the kitchen. You’ll find everything from brisket to pork spare ribs and pulled lamb shoulder on offer, all sold in 100g increments. Order a little of each then top up later with your favourites. The pastrami lamb rib is not to be missed.
While the focus is on the meat, the vegetable sides are no slouch. The fire-roasted cos lettuce sprinkled with buffalo milk feta, dates and a citrus dressing, for instance, is a perfect partner to the flavour-packed protein.
Space for dessert? A compact selection ranges from excellent gelato to flaky pasteis de nata.
The Hoghouse ales, brewed right next door, are excellent and well-priced for local craft. The wine list is somewhat mysterious, with a hand-selected range of garagiste wines and limited release bottlings. Don’t go looking for brand names here; you’ll find only cultivars and tasting notes to guide you. If in doubt, opt for the tasting flights.
Friendly, warm and welcoming. On-the-ball servers are only too happy to talk you through the menu and cuts of meat.
Despite Hoghouse’s lonely location in a suburban office park, there’s an honest warmth and charm to the space thanks to the open kitchen and roaring fireplace. Long tables add a communal, convivial feel, while the upstairs space is ideal for quieter dinners for two.
Start the week off properly by going for two-for-one beers on Mondays.
The thing to do here is order a whole host of snacks, sides and barbecued meats, and share them family-style as if you were at a very excellent braai.
Begin with a plate of pig’s tails. Even if the concept scares you, these toothsome snacks are delicious – tender meaty morsels inside, and crunchy, chewy crackling on the outside, under a sticky marinade. Steaming hot arancini balls, meanwhile, are loaded with wild mushrooms, and coated in a paper-thin crumb.
From here, progress to the meat. The ‘barbecue’ section of the menu offers various meat cuts – some of which are smoked in the on-site smoker. There’s gloriously tender brisket, there’s smoky, bacon-y pork belly, there are ribs – ours are slightly dry – and there is pulled pork, duck legs and buttermilk-fried chicken. These are all offered from 100g upwards, and come on metal trays, so try several to share.
Meat purists will love this celebration of protein – but if you’re less carnivorous, make sure you order several sides to accompany the dishes. The moreish brisket goes beautifully with a brinjal parmigiana – oozing mozzarella and fragrant, fresh basil. The pork belly, meanwhile, pairs nicely with the sweet, tangy pineapple kimchi, which is loaded with peanuts, and fresh coriander. There’s also charred butternut with maple syrup and pecan nuts and great, golden, crunchy chips with a powerful truffle aioli.
Dessert – if you have room – consists of dainty tartlets from the Spier location – where the focus is more on baked goods. There’s also superb gelato from Moro, served in sugar cones. (Try the pistachio, if they have it).
Another highlight. The location is also the home to the brewery and taproom – try a generously portioned ‘flight’ of the Hog House’s excellent craft beers for R37. The winelist, meanwhile, offers a changing selection of small batch bottles named only by their lot number – and a description – the idea being that the focus should be the flavour and quality, not the brand. Finish with a shot of the Night Owl, the house-made whisky-based coffee liqueur.
Hoghouse is a buzzing little beacon in the middle of an industrial area, just outside Pinelands. It’s best suited to a rowdy group gathering – or perhaps a relaxed date, seated at the bar. Décor-wise, it’s industrial chic, but a wood fire keeps things cosy in the winter. There’s secure parking behind the complex’s gates.
Efficient and friendly.
If you’re a wine buff, look out for their monthly ‘Game of wines’, hosted in the taproom, which merges wine tasting with a pub quiz.
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