Sunday, June 17, 2012

Black Hogg: Baah Baah Brilliant (Popcorn) Bacon

When Black Hogg first opened back in March, I remember reading KevinEats' post about his meal there and loving the account of how Chef Eric Park picked the name for his Silverlake restaurant: originally he wanted "Black Pig" to reference his favorite animal - the Berkshire pig, but since that was already taken by other dining venues (as was "Black Hog"), he decided to go with the extra "g" in "hogg", which is defined as "young sheep" - which gives the name a nice double meaning paying tribute to kurobuta pork as well as being sort of a 'black sheep' in the culinary world, tryng to open his first gastropub.

With the thoughtfulness that went into the naming, I figured that would be infused into his food as well. And that turned out to be true - though the food was definitely very accessible (intended to be pub fare, stepped up) and not at all fussy, the creativity and care that went into the conception and execution of each dish is clear.

On a leisurely Saturday a month or so back, Beauty Jones, her hubby and I met up to check out the laid back, almost minimalist space (well, it was more like for me to check out - the other two live in the neighborhood and had already visited and fell in love with Black Hogg! And its corkage-free BYOB which lasted until just recently this month!).  The entrance was interesting - if there was a masculine version of 'shabby chic', that's how I would describe its aesthetic, with a grubby looking neon sign on a backboard with peeling paint.  Once inside, its design consists of light woods and clean lines, cozy, no fuss - as if to say, alright then, let's get on with the food.

The most buzzed about of Chef Park's creations was the Popcorn Bacon, Maple Crema ($7) - so that had to be our first dish!  In short, it was genius. With the national bacon obsession, it's crazy that no one's ever thought to do this before - but Black Hogg cures their own bacon and serves it in cubes, deep fried in the most addictive seasoning - so that you get this amazing crunch and blast of flavor yielding to juicy, super luscious fat - all in adorable bite-sized squares that you won't be able to stop popping in your mouth.  And you get a side of maple cream for dipping.  Pure heaven for pork lovers.
As a funghi lover, I had to try the Wild Mushrooms on a Brioche Box ($15) - this was a simple dish, that at first I didn't want to spend precious stomach space on, as it didn't sound particularly exciting - but turned out to be shockingly delicious.  The mushrooms were perfectly cooked in a richly flavored sauce, and served in just the right proportion with a hefty slab of buttery brioche toast.  It's sort of pricey for a dish that is essentially vegetarian, and not really entree sized, but the taste was that amazing that I would say, worth the splurge at least once.
Next up was another favorite of the night: Roasted Marrow Bones, Breakfast Radishes ($12) bone marrow at other places have disappointed me in the past, being usually too oily and an unpleasant mouthfeel.  Black Hogg serves theirs pitch perfect - lush and fatty-creamy (no oil slick!) and with a side not only of breakfast radishes to provide counterbalancing crunch, but also a first-ever (for me), a mix of capers plus cilantro (and I thought, also, lime juice) that is a unique pairing for bone marrow, and lends it some southeast asian flavors that cut through the richness of the marrow nicely. All this is served with lightly grilled tortillas for a great plate that to me seemed to give a cool nodd to some of the flavors of LA: bit of Vietnamese and Mexican layered with American gastropub fare. 
As everyone at the table loves lamb, we got the Buttery Lamb Burger, Habanero Onions, Onetik Bleu, Fries ($17) - this may have been the best lamb burger I've ever had. Super juicy (and apparently buttery because actual butter is added to the meat in the patty!), super flavorful, amazing with the punch of pungent blue (sheep's milk) cheese, and crunch of innocuous looking pink onions lent some heat from habanero.  Layers of flavor that work perfectly together, topped by perfectly toasted brioche buns.
All in all, a fantastic meal at Black Hogg.  We loved every dish we had. I rarely have occasion to venture into Hipsterville, but this unpretentious good food made me deeply jealous of Beauty Jones for living within walking distance of the place. 

Black Hogg doesn't take reservations, so it's best, as Beauty Jones wisely recommended, to try to get there right at when they open at 6pm for best chance of getting seated quickly.  

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 5.5 bites
Originality - 6 bites
Ambience - 5 stars
Service - 5.5 stars
Overall experience - 5.5 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100% 

Black Hogg

2852 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles,CA 90026
Ph: 323.953.2820

Twitter: @black_hogg

Black Hogg on Urbanspoon

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