Hannah Sayle/The Memphis Flyer
Hog & Hominy's new dive bar, The Holding Pen, is set for a mid-May opening.
Creating a perfect burger takes time, especially for the chefs at Hog & Hominy, who like to deconstruct food and then shape it into something more delicious.
For the upcoming John T. Edge burger, a signature dish for the restaurant’s new back porch dive bar, the H & H team spent two months experimenting with combinations of meat and toppings.
“We finally settled on an all-beef burger that we grind ourselves,” explained chef/owner Michael Hudman. The meat comes from nearby Claybrook Farms in Covington, and the burger’s toppings include caramelized onions, mustard, and pickled iceberg lettuce.
The burger’s name pays homage to Edge, who is the director of Oxford’s Southern Foodways Alliance and a prolific author whose books include “Hamburgers & Fries: An American Story.” During the burger’s development, Edge reminded the chefs about the humble Depression-era burger from El Reno, Oklahoma, where cooks sliced onions, tossed them on the grill, and placed a patty on top. The grill technique caramelized the onions and added extra heft to the meat.
“That got us thinking about how my grandmother ate burgers with only onions, mustard and pickles,” Hudman said. “Our pickled iceberg is a rift on that.”
The rest of the menu at the Holding Pen is equally streamlined: oysters on the half-shell with house-made cocktail sauce and Crockpot dishes such as boiled peanuts and Frito Pie made with fresh ricotta. Drinks continue the stripped down theme: Cold cans of PBR, Miller High Life, and Coors Banquet Beer, stored in a refurbished GE fridge from the 1940s, and a featured daily cocktail from bartender Nick Talarico.
The bar had a trial run last month for the Friends of Beard Dinner after-party and is headed now for a mid-May opening. Look for a comfortable retro feel thanks to a record player (bring your favorite LP’s), vintage souvenir plates on the walls, and farm tables made with reclaimed lumber.
“We want the bar to be a destination,” Hudman said, explaining plans to connect the porch directly to Hog & Hominy’s outdoor Bocce count. “Even more, we want it to be fun.”
The Holding Pen at Hog & Hominy, 707 W. Brookhaven Circle (901-207-7396)