House Barbeque: It’s About Comfort
By Pete & Rosie/ firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Carolinas, barbeque joints are like
Starbucks – there’s one on every corner. Unlike
the coffee giant, however, each Southern barbecue maker has
its own personality and while the offerings – pulled
pork, ribs and slow roasted chicken – are pretty standard,
the barbeque sauce is what sets each apart, and each maker
has his own closely guarded recipe.
In this part of the country, barbeque joints
are rarer than hen’s teeth. To anyone who grew up in
the South or spent time there, a Long Island barbeque joint
is a find. One that captures the essence of the barbecue experience
is a dream come true.
Although the popularity of barbecue is on
the rise in these parts, good BBQ is still hard to find. Which
is why the recently opened Hog House in Huntington Station
is a spot worth marking on your foodie map.
The creation of Brian Sellars and Adam Goldgell,
Hog House captures the spirit of traditional Southern barbeque.
Located in a small corner storefront on Jericho Turnpike,
Hog House is a welcome addition to the Huntington food scene
– especially to we foodies who are always on the hunt
for good barbeque. The eatery is “decorated” to
recreate the charm of some of the south’s best BBQ shacks
right down to the bottomless glasses (Mason jars, actually)
of homemade sweetened tea or lemonade. It’s casual all
the way, with mismatched chairs and tables (larger parties
can claim one of two large oak tables), and quirky accoutrements
throughout. The walls are hung with a collection of window
frames, odd posters and pig art. A small counter area with
spin style stools near the register area has a retro look,
and overhead is an old-style television set (remember when
TVs had dials?) playing a video of the pig movie Babe. There’s
whimsy throughout the restaurant with pig and pepper patio
lights, a battery operated flying pig in the center of the
room, and even a talking deer head trophy.
Don’t mistake the décor for
the work of a professional. Goldgell said he decorated the
place himself with items picked up at local antiques stores.
“Nothing in here was purchased more than a mile from
here. I wanted a place where people would feel comfortable.
Any opportunity I have to take the ‘restaurant’
out of it, I do,” Godgell said.
Adding to the comfort level, a meal starts
with a basket of roasted Virginia peanuts to occupy your fingers
while you peruse the menu. The result is a homey atmosphere
that – for better or worse – encourages people
to “set awhile,” as they say in the South.
The menu is another story. Despite its roots
in backyard barbeque, Goldgell and Sellars, along with executive
chef Michael Zuckerman, bring a worldly sophistication to
Hog House’s offerings. CIA trained, Goldgell learned
his craft cooking at sophisticate New York City eateries and
in “no budget” (meaning the skies the limit) private
social clubs, and he and Sellars, a Johnson and Wales grad,
cooked together at Panama Hatties. In that fine-dining tradition,
everything at Hog House clearly bear’s a food-loving
chef’s touch, right down to the homemade pickles (which
I declared to my family to be “the best freaking pickle
I’ve ever had!). Even the potato chips served with sandwiches
are homemade – razor thin slices of sweet potatoes fried
crisp and ever so lightly salted. Mmmmm.
The best seller at Hog House – by a
three-to-one margin, according to Goldgell – is the
pulled pork. The slow roasted, meaty pork is not too smoky,
not too sweet, and served heaped on a homemade roll, with
homemade slaw, chips and pickles (sandwich, $9.79), or plate
style with two sides from an extensive selection of traditional
Ribs are of course another crowd pleaser.
Goldgell explains that they developed their process over the
course of a few months of experimenting. “My partner
and I drank a few cases of Amarone over the course of a few
months and learned to smoke meat in his backyard,” he
said. The ribs are cooked dry rub style, slowly smoked and
served brushed with the house barbeque sauce – a tomato
based concoction that might surprise those whose only experience
with barbeque is from Fridays or Applebees. Hog House’s
sauce is tomato-based Texas style sauce -- barely sweet with
a hint of smoke.
“For me, the idea of a sauce is that
it should accompany the food,” Goldgell said. “I
didn’t want it supper smoky or super sweet.”
The result is a perfect accompaniment to
whatever it’s brushed on. The baby back ribs (half rack,
$13.99; full rack, $21.99) are a must. We tried the barbecue
shrimp ($14.99) and they were tasty, though a little outside
the realm of the pork-house experience we crave. Other signature
specialties in clued the 16-hour brisket ($14.99); slow-cooked
chicken (half-chicken, $12.99, or the whole chicken dinner,
including four sides for $19.99).
A round-robin of menu specials assure that
you’ll never tire of the menu (we missed catfish night,
but will keep trying), and more than a dozen side dishes on
the menu mean you never have to have the same meal twice.
Each exhibits that chef’s touch that sets Hog House
apart from other BBQ joints. The baked beans are a mix of
kidney and white beans with flavors of maple, mustard and
chunks of fatback; filthy rice is a variation on southern
dirty rice; and the mac and cheese is a sophisticated three-cheese
blend. Collard greens could have used more vinegar, but are
a must for Southerners; and the sweet mashed potatoes are
a light, brown-sugary treat.
Desserts include chocolate banana pudding,
deep-fried frosted flake cheesecake, and warm blueberry buckle.
Pecan pie is one the way, according to Goldgell.
Hog House Barbeque
200 West Jericho Turnpike
Atmosphere: Pure comfort
Price Range: Inexpensive to moderate
Hours: Mon-Fri., 11:30-9