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When we food folk heard that Scott Youkilis and Dave Esler had a new project in the works, we all got very excited. The Mission street “Maverick” has done it again with a bigger space and stronger drinks just a couple blocks away at Hog & Rocks on 19th St. A handsome paint job and a brand new kitchen help this corner location stand out; which also features a massive beer cooler that would make even my Floridian cousins proud.
Scott was lucky enough to scoop up Ray England, the fresh-faced Craft (Los Angeles) alumni as his Chef de Cuisine. My guess is that H & R is Scott’s concept, but the menu struck me as all Ray’s. I stopped by to poke around the kitchen and shoot a little video and I can’t say enough about Ray and his crew—a talented and down to earth bunch who, turn on a dime, make just delicious food.
Eric Rubin of Tres Agaves has crafted a drink menu of classics like the Hurricane and even a Tequila Sunrise, which is a real relief after all this “mixology” nonsense slowing down bars all over town—no moustache required.
Of course the menu features nearly a dozen oyster varieties on any given night, and nearly as many ham choices, all of which are served with a variety of nuts and greens. There are other standouts, such as a Patty Melt and Cast Iron Octopus, which I just fell in love with. The Cast Iron Octopus starts with some lovely buts of pork that are melted down in the cast iron to which Ray added the unctuous sections of octopus. He finishes the dish with a little butter, which he uses to crisp up some smashed potatoes. The whole thing gets plated and served with house-pickled peppers. The balance of flavors with the texture of the octopus makes you close your eyes and feel grateful while you are eating it. I have never had octopus like this, it reminded me of lobster on its best day and left me wanting more.
The menu also features several different jars of lovely things you can spread on bread. This portion of the menu even features pimento cheese, which really struck a nerve with my white trash roots.
Some great bar food like hot wings with Scott’s very own hot sauce, mussels, and fantastic Fish and Chips make this place impossible to dislike. A competent staff and recent sound dampening efforts make it even more attractive. With food available late, this could very easily become an after work favorite for local restaurant folks.
I really appreciated the straightforward nature of the menu. The food speaks for itself and doesn’t rely on irony or any wink and a smile nuances that I think we’re all tired of. So get down to Hog & Rocks, where you can enjoy plenty of both, seven nights a week.