Prosciutto, fennel, taleggio, lardo and slices of fresh fig on a brick-oven pizza sent me over the moon Tuesday night at Hog & Hominy, Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman's much anticipated new restaurant. The combination, aptly called Boom-Baba, is one of eight different pies at the center of the restaurant's menu, and one of three we tried during our first visit to the restaurant on Brookhaven Circle.
I love going out to eat with Susan Ellis and Hannah Sayle, the other food writers at Contemporary Media, and my husband Tony because we give ourselves permission to eat through the menu, which is pretty much what we did starting with arancini (fried risotto balls stuffed with pickled cabbage) topped with Parmesan, a bowl of popcorn and cocktails. We stuck with classic drinks (box cars and dry gin martinis garnished with lemon zest) and both were prepared with an expert hand.
The menu at Hog & Hominy is simple but inventive. Don't look for burgers, pasta or an iceberg wedge. Instead, chefs frolic through small plates like a Mortadella hotdog with caraway beer mustard, Buffalo pig tails garnished with celery leaves, and half a dozen “Farmers,” or veggie sides, made with seasonal produce. (Don't miss the creamed corn with tarragon cream, Parmesan and black pepper. I almost had to wrestle it away from Hannah, who also wrote about Hog & Hominy on Hungry Memphis.)
Go ahead and order a veggie plate or two because much of the menu is a filling and flavorful homage to the wonders of pork. Along with those pig tails, the menu includes neck bone gravy for the poutine, jowl on the Red Eye pizza and belly ends in the collard greens. If this all sounds a little odd, don't panic. The menu at Hog & Hominy is updated, especially for a casual restaurant setting, but the food is comfortable, satisfying and fun.
Now back to those pizzas: The dough is crispy on the outside but light and doughy in the middle, making a delectable foundation for toppings that start simple (basil, tomato and mozzarella) but move quickly to more complex. The Red Eye is a kick-ass delight topped with jowl, tomato, fontina, celery, sugo and a soft fried egg. Or maybe the egg was poached. Either way, the pizza was perfect with drinks or as a cure-all for too much imbibing.
Open since Thursday, Hog & Hominy has been packed with enthusiastic foodies of all ages, and Tuesday night was no exception. We spotted several friends without leaving our table, including 94.1 FM DJ Steve Conley, who said the Red Eye pizza reminded him of a recipe from a Thomas Keillor cookbook. That's Conley to the left, goofing around.
I'd say Conley's comparison is another strong endorsement for stopping by this lively new hotspot, especially during off hours when the crowds thin out. We got to the restaurant at 5:30 p.m. and had our pick of tables. For now, Hog & Hominy is only open for dinner, but regular hours (11 a.m. to closing) begin next week after the restaurant's official opening event on Sunday. The event, a “Hoedown” with music, dancing, art, bocce, food and drink, is a fund-raiser from 4 to 8 p.m. for Flying Colors Cancer Network's new Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Initiative. Tickets are $25.
707 W. Brookhaven Circle, (901) 207-7396