Welcome to the Hoghouse! Have you visited? I first heard about it from my friend Rebecca (Life on a Polka Dot) and have been keen to visit ever since. Mr John is a HUGE meat eater (sorry animals) so I knew it would be the perfect place for a date night.
A few weeks ago, the weather was really good and I didn’t feel like going home sitting on the couch after work. It had been the day when #FeesMustFall had trashed town, so there was no chance I was driving to the city bowl. When Ping! The Hoghouse came to mind. I gave them a ring to book a table and we drove through.
The Hoghouse is in Ndabeni, but if you’re one of those Capetonians who thinks life ends after the Mowbray golf course and are too afraid to drive to “unknown areas”, you can call it Pinelands. It’s down the road from Sunrise Circle. We were greeted by a really nice car man, Lucky is his name, and he directed us to the enclosed parking area. I really liked the parking as it definitely gives the restaurant a safe feeling. (After seeing an armed robbery fly past us, while we were dining outside in Claremont a few weeks back, I’m keen for a little extra security at the moment.)
Mr John and I took a seat upstairs where we were kindly tendered to by Mseki. Since it was a hot day, I was down for a little tasty cocktail; so I ordered the Campfire (R45). I’m not usually a big ginger fan, but for some reason I felt like something hot and tasty. It was delicious!
The Hoghouse actually has a sister restaurant at Spier. There they bake all their fresh breads and in Ndabeni they brew the Hoghouse beer. The restaurant is a duplex with seating upstairs with a small deck (closed this day) and downstairs where you can see the kitchen at work.
We sat upstairs right in a corner, which was lovely until the restaurant filled up and it became hotter and hotter. But it was just where our table was positioned because when we went to the bar, it was perfectly cool. Just one of those random things.
What’s on the Hoghouse Menu?
Not knowing what was good and ‘bad’, we ordered quite a bit as I wanted to try a bunch of items so that I would know, for next time, what were my favourites. Here’s how we went:
BBQ Lamb Ribs (R35)
Beef Brisket (R60)
Burnt Ends (R65)
Charred Butternut (R35)
Green Salad (R55)
Hand Cut Chips (R40)
Pigs Tails (R35)
Pork Belly (R50)
Pork Spare Rib (R35)
Total (with drinks + tip): R600.00
I know it doesn’t seem like a compliment to start with a NON-meat dish, but the charred butternut absolutely, totally and utterly blew me away! This may be the single greatest butternut dish I’ve ever had of all time. SERIOUSLY! Firstly, if you don’t like maple syrup, SKIP! But I do, I love it. And these crunchy nuts, paired with the charry savoury butternut then lifted up by maple syrup (it’s not iLovo) was just SUBLIME! SUBLIME I tell you!
Right, now that I’m over that, the best meat dish was the restaurant’s signature offering – the beef brisket. Soft on the palate, tender to chew, smoked (but it’s not HYPER smokey, which I can find too rich for me sometimes), it was delicious. They do recommend you eat it first as it starts to lose liquid. Which I’m quite interested by because if something’s been resting then surely it shouldn’t seep? I’m not sure, but what I am sure about is how delicious it was and also how fresh it was. We literally watched the chef cutting and weighing out the meat order, by order. TASTY!
The salad is also worth getting as it just gives you some relief from all the meaty bits. For R55 per salad, it was a bit of a waste for one, but it’s 100% big enough to share between 2 or 3 people. And it was fresh and tasty except, I don’t think the watercress had been prepared carefully enough as it was very crunchy, as in grit crunchy. I doubted myself, but when I had the leftovers at work the next day – yip, still too crunchy. But other than that it was really good
read: they used fresh avo.
The things you shouldn’t eat, but you’re going to anyway because 2016 has been a kak year and sometimes you just need to eat what your heart desires? Sure! Then try the Burnt Ends. I’d say these are for SERIOUS meat eaters and they are incredibly rich, and deep in flavour. They’re more dry as they’re the off cuts or ‘ends’ of ‘meaty bits’, Mr John had a similar thing in London and he almost found them too much.
Hand Cut Chips
As an Irish descendant, don’t touch me on my chips. Nailed it! That’s pretty much all I need to say about these super tasty hand cut chips! PS They were served with aioli but we didn’t really bother with it as they were so good alone.
There are an option of 2 ribs on the menu, the lamb rib and the pork rib. The pork rib was definitely the better of the two, simply because it adopted the smokiness more. The lamb ribs just tasted like my Dad’s braai. (This is the lamb rib below, the softer more rugged looking rib is the pork.)
Pigs tails. I dunno guys. I ordered them as I’m not squeamish and was keen to try the obviously good things and the unusual things. So I ordered the pig’s tails, but they’re like the scraps you should throw to your dog in the pub or give to your teething baby. HARD! Hard, hard, hard. Sweet…surprisingly, crispy if we can get bits off. I’ll be honest and say I don’t have the greatest set of gnashers in the world so I really wasn’t down for ruining my veneers. But if you have strong teeth and like chewing on things (I think they would make sense with beer and rugby), then go for it. The deep fried tail bone nuggets will keep you busy, that’s for sure. But for me, nah.
MEH. That’s all I can describe is as. Not good, definitely not bad, just not spectacular. I was hoping it would be really soft and tender and it was just a slab of meat. You can see the beautiful colour from the smoking, but it just isn’t spectacular enough for me to order again. The pickled cucumbers that came with the tray was good though!
The Hoghouse is decorated in a classic way, simple furniture, simple decor. Knives and forks taken directly out of my gran and grandpa’s drawers gave me a nice, nostalgic smile. Each table has 2 sauces, BBQ and Hot sauce, ready for those who like their meats really gooey. They also have a sink with soap and towels for you to wash your hands in the restaurant, I really like that because I’m a touch obsessed with washing my hands, especially when sticky food is involved. Thumbs up for that.
Would I Return?
Yes. I had a great meal and a good time. My only reservation is that it seems like the type of place that you could go with lots of friends, but you order your food by the 100grams. So I think it would be quite difficult to ensure you get your grammage of what you order. So I think it’s better for couples or smaller groups as it’s not cheap and you could end up paying for a lot more than you get. Keep it simple.
Find the Hoghouse at:
Unit 4 Technosquare
42 Morningside Rd
Ndabeni, Cape Town
Tel: 021 810 4545