after4ever (318) Brier, Washington | January 14, 2016
- AMBIANCE 4/5
- SERVICE 6/10
- SELECTION 8/15
- FOOD 6/10
- VALUE 8/10
- OVERALL 14/20
Itís so hard to know exactly where to rate these guys. I walked in expecting it to be a five star experience without a doubt, and I have no trouble imagining that thatís usually how it is.
The beer and wine lists are hand-written on chalkboards over the bar, and the food menus are on heavy paper stock, lashed to small clipboards that you can grab. The beer list picks up all kinds of cool local stuff, and they get great kegs from up and down the west coast, too. The glasses werenít dirty, but they could have been cleaner--even the one flat beer we had showed bubbles clinging to the walls of the inside of the glass. Bubbles like these cling to soap film inside the glass, and shouldnít be there.
In practice, the food here is solid. For $7, the pork wings are fantastic. Tender, lots of flavor, plenty of sauce, carrots, ranch. They were clearly done in house. The Smokehouse Platter, for $13, was OK. 2 nice cheeses, and two nice meats. The duck sausage here really is good, and this platter features several thin slices of it. The menu claims these things are smoked in house, but the gouda and the pork sausage seemed closer to store bought, and no one could tell us what kind of sausage the pork was. The nuts were tasty. We certainly ate every bite, and the blue cheese did have in-house smoke. No real complaints, but donít say on the menu that itís all made in house, and make sure your staff can explain what they are.
The duck sausage banh mi was pretty rad. Itís $12. That will buy you 3, maybe even 4 banh mi at a lot of Vietnamese delis. To be fair to the Hog, a lot of non-Viet-owned places charge $12 for banh mi, even far outside Seattle. Theyíre not the only ones, and this was a good sandwich. And itís fine to serve it with a few non-traditional twists, too. But actually, removing a couple of those twists would make it a far better sandwich, even if it wouldnít be any more traditional. First of all, the duck sausage is served in the bun as a link, which is kind of weird, given how many vegetables and pickled delicious things are packed into the bun with it. You could cut the sausage on a very long-angled bias and make the sandwich seem fuller AND easier to eat, and get a more even distribution of cilantro, vegetables, and meat in each bite. Second, the bread should be crumbly and crackly on a sandwich like this. The big soft supermarket baguette is perfectly appetizing, but just made it feel even more like a yuppy hot dog instead of a banh mi. Slice up the link and crackle up the baguette and this whole dynamic changes.
The whole experience ends up being a good one, but a couple other things could stand a polish. Our bartender was very sweet, but she was clearly annoyed at having to run the whole floor solo on a holiday weekend, and there were definitely too many people there for her to catch up. There was one dude running food, and it was hard to tell if he was a manager or what, but he definitely never helped her. It took forever to order stuff, and it took a while to get stuff at times, and to pay our bill. This was more leisurely than irritating, to be sure, but it seemed like they could use two real employees on the floor.
Lastly, there were fruit flies over beers, over empty kegs, even near food. Now, the doors are open. There will be a fly or two. But if you charge like you know what youíre doing, and you clearly do know what youíre doing, some hot bleachy water will save you from the fruit flies. This weekend was probably just a tiny fluke, though, and Iíll definitely be back. A lot.