hog shack cook house
Steveston’s Hog Shack Cook House has been stirring up the Lower Mainland-area food blog hype since it opened a year or so ago. Offering Kansas-style BBQ and a large craft beer selection, it fits well with the new, updated Steveston vibe. Over the past few years, the previously sleepy neighbourhood by the water has experienced an influx of contemporary restaurants and businesses that shake up the touristy kitsch a bit; this is a good thing.
It seemed like a shame to let such a large and well curated list of craft beers go to waste. They’re even grouped by hoppiness on the beer menu, a perfect aid for a beer beginner like me. I chose Pike Brewing’s Kilt Lifter, a Scotch ale (I’ve never heard of this style of beer). It was a “2” on the hoppiness scale. Compared to the somewhat astringent bitterness of an IPA, this beer had a rich bitterness reminiscent of very dark chocolate. It was also quite smoky; I guess that’s why they call it Scotch ale, as it reminded me of smoky Scotch whisky.
Of course, when it comes to BBQ, smokiness is the name of the game, and I got a little bit more than I bargained for here with the Burnt Ends. This apocryphal and strangely named dish isn’t on the menu; I only know about it through the furtive whisperings of food bloggers who have been to Hog Shack: “You gotta try the burnt ends.” Upon asking if they had any left, our server slipped into the kitchen to inquire, and then returned with an affirmative. Excellent. I’d had BBQ before, but never like this. With regular BBQ, I could taste the smoke in the slow-cooked meat — with the Burnt Ends, I felt like the smoker was in my mouth. It was like swallowing a campfire, but in a totally good way. Gobbled those Burnt Ends down lickety-split. I understand why they need to hide these from the general public now; if they let the secret out, there’d be none! Some things gotta be kept classified.
Entrees come with two side dishes and Texas toast here. The Texas toast just tasted like regular thick-cut bread. I couldn’t even tell if it was toasted. It was good to mop up leftover sauce with, though. The coleslaw here wasn’t overwhelmingly creamy, but it didn’t have a good horseradish kick, either. Strangely, KFC coleslaw is still near the top of my list because despite being radioactive green mush, it has a little hint of sharp horseradish flavour to it.
I subbed in the Poutine for a small extra charge, because who doesn’t like poutine? It was good but not great; I haven’t yet found another poutine in the city that uses true squeaky cheese curds; La Belle Patate is still the king in that arena. The fries themselves and the gravy were good, but for me, non-squeaky cheese is a dealbreaker when it comes to poutine.
If you’re ever in the Steveston area, check out Hog Shack. It’s worth it, especially if you manage to get your grubby paws on those Burnt Ends. They’ll definitely make your day. Even if you can’t, the craft beer selection and BBQ is worth staying around for.