last night i joined a friend for dinner at hog and rocks, the new venture from folks from maverick and tres agaves. the focus of the restaurant seems to be ham, oysters, cocktails. when seated, you are presented with a card and a pencil. on one side of the card is the list of available oysters, and you mark down your order. on the flip side is a list of domestic country hams, as well as italian prosciutto and jamon serrano from spain. i'm not sure if there is much point to this system, as our server wrote down our oyster and ham order and left the card on the table.
the greater menu features rather casual, homey fare. i unfortunately forgot to snag a menu and our oyster/ham card for details, but i'll just tell you what we had.
dozen oysters. a new favorite are the steamboat islands from washington state. another (can't remember the name) from BC was the least favorite, and the clean bright kusshis rounded them out. again, i wish i had snagged the menu card because i can't remember the name of the domestic country ham we ordered. it was from tennessee, aged 10 months with apple and hickory smoke. a rather generous portion of thinly shaved ham arrived with whiskey glazed halved almonds and watercress. at first i was really enjoying the smoky ham, brightened with the peppery cress and smoothed with the sweet almonds. but it was a rather generous portion for two people, and soon the cress and the nuts ran out and it was just too much salt on the palate. at that time we were also served our duck liver mousse, which came with a huge pile of matzoh. pretty good stuff, but super rich. the mousse was more rillette-like in texture, and was served with a sprinkle of chives, which complemented the richness of the duck. but the serving size was again a bit much for two people, and half of it went into a to-go box for a friend.
palate relief came in the heirloom tomato salad, which, while not advertised as such, was like a deconstructed gazpacho. very ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced armenian cucumbers, onions, torn bread dressed in vinegar and oil. very refreshing. mussels in a "chile vinaigrette" were actually quite spicy, and sort of...one-note-ish. perfectly fine shellfish but the sauce...lacked character. i don't know. and the clam fritters were more like hushpuppies studded with corn kernels. my first fritter had visible small bits of chopped clam, but there was no evident clam presence in the rest of them, served with a meh aioli.
can't be too helpful on the cocktails, the "rocks" part of the restaurant's name, as i just wanted a beer. but i hear the idea is to feature well made classic cocktails, like daquiris and tom collins. but again, i didn't even glance at the list.
in summary, i like the idea behind this ham and oyster joint, but i guess there is such a thing as too much ham (at least if you order as much food as we did for two people. no it's not a mountain of ham but...), the duck mousse i would recommend for maybe a party of 4, great fresh tomatoes in the salad, didn't love the mussels but they were fine, and the clam fritters should not have the word "clam" in them.
the place was half full at 6 PM on a monday, and almost capacity when we left. it was very loud. and...i hate the sinks in the bathrooms. they are these huge wide white ceramic squares with a basin only two inches deep. i've never had an emotional reaction to a sink before but as i washed my hands i wanted to smash it off the wall. i noted afterwards that the sink in the bathroom at the lexington up the street was superb: clean deep stainless steel basin with a high curving faucet, which facilitated hand-washing in a pleasing way. for those who notice such things.
Hog and Rocks
3431 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
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