hog and rocks (sf mission)
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
I've been twice. I'm pretty sure "rocks" refers to the oysters, not cocktails, though I can't explain why. I thought the card for marking orders of oysters and/or ham was kind of gimmicky, but it worked when we were there, and we actually used it to write down the items from the other menu we wanted as well. We had serrano ham and we ate it up both times happily and did not think it too much for 2 people. It came covered with shavings of Parmesan and was delicious. We also had the heirloom tomato salad (like a panzanella) which we loved. The patty melt was pretty standard-issue, but tasty enough. I loved the kick from the mussels and the garlic bread that came alongside. We also enjoyed the pimento dip and the clam dip which came in little old-fashioned jars and either bread or chips, but they're really "spreads" as the jars are too narrow to dip anything in but a knife. We had the chicken wing confit both times; I didn't care for it on visit #1 mainly because it came after all the other dishes and I was totally full. I liked it much more on visit #2; they're basic buffalo wings but cooked so that the meat falls off the bone. Served with blue cheese, celery & carrots per usual.
I really like this place, but note it is VERY loud when full. I'm not one to really be bothered by restaurant noise usually but I couldn't help but notice it here.
re: Frosty Melon
i thought rocks was supposed to mean oysters, but i read some interview with one of the owners, and he indicated "rocks" as in ice for cocktails. you're right about the salad, i forgot about panzanella. i didn't think the mussels were too spicy, though my friend must have swallowed a piece of chile, because she started coughing for several minutes and needed some of my beer to quell the heat. i've just enjoyed other mussel preps more. you're right about LOUD. my friend has a quiet voice and i'm known to mumble, so there was a quite a bit of bending over the table and spea king in clear syll a bles.
went last night, mostly underwhelmed. oysters were great, but ... they're oysters! no talent needed there. I had the Pt. Reyes and Canal somethings, can't remember the name. They were a bargain at $1.50 and $2.00 each, although other oysters were in the $3-4 range.
We did the three-sampler plate of hog - had a jamon serrano, an italian ham, and a ham from Kentucky. The Italian was by far our favorite - smokey and delicious. the serrano was my least favorite - i was very surprised by this. a little on the dry side, and maybe i don't know enough about serrano, but not very flavorful - and i know enough to know that's not right..
we also had three salads: the chop salad, duck prosciutto salad, and beet salad. the chop salad tasted so overwhelmingly of marjoram that i couldn't have more than one bite. the duck was good but a bit spare. the beets were good tho a tad undercooked.
we over-ordered, also having fries and aioli (good), octopus and smashed potatoes (ok but octopus a bit tough), a patty melt (excellent, probably the highlight of the meal, after the oysters), and a grinder (why, i don't know. it was better than Subways is all I can think to say about it) with homemade chips. Of their wines, they were kind enough to let me taste a Torrontes and another white I can't remember right now, after tasting my friend's Riesling and finding it too sweet. Both were also too sweet, as was another friend's rose. My muscadet was perfect, but they only had one opened bottle so i had to order it by the glass. the only other white on offer was a Benziger chard (i hate chards). Didn't try any cocktails.
almost forgot the lamb belly! this was wonderful. very lamby, in a soupy little sauce with garbanzos, excellent for sopping with their bread.
I liked the idea of this place very much, and the service was very attentive. I'd go back for oysters and wine (if they start to offer a better selection of dry ones) and the lamb and patty melt. but mostly my curiosity about this place is sated.
I agree with you, I liked the oysters and hams; serrano, prosciutto, then tennessee ham were our favorites in that order.
The cooked food we didn't care for too much though. The chicken confit, essentially their take on buffalo wings didn't have much spice or tang.
The beef tongue salad was mostly spinach and onion rings, and the small portion of tongue was slightly overbraised, having a cabeza texture rather than slightly firm texture I like.
The lamb belly was pretty nice, but the garbanzo beans were undercooked.
We did like one of the specials on the board, duck hearts which came skewered with a cumin-y herb paste. Tasty and tender.
The wines were misses for us and did not complement the food. The server took the Sauv Blanc off our bill but the Barbera didn't agree with us either. Stick with the cocktails.