As I was reading my newsfeed on Facebook this morning, a little update from Hog Shack Cook House caught my eye and notified me that Burnt Ends were available today. That made me super excited, as I still had a Groupon voucher I was saving just for when they have this off-the-menu dish, since so many online reviewers claim it is a must-try at this restaurant. After phoning in at night to confirm they still had it, we went down to Steveston on this very sunny and warm evening.
Burnt Ends are seriously burnt and VERY smoky. The meat was succulent and the smokiness was incredibly strong. The BBQ flavour was not too overwhelming, especially in the larger pieces. The smaller pieces of meat were very delicious and melted in my mouth. However, some pieces were mostly fat, which none of us ate. A few of the bigger pieces were slightly on the dry side and the sauce had not seeped into it as nicely, leaving it a little bland and just plain smoky. When the pieces were nice and juicy though, the flavour was that of a fine smoky BBQ sauce. I was a little surprised how the meat can be so smoky yet not completely charred. The portion size was very decent as well. For $16, the platter came with the choice of two sides. We selected the Yam Fries and Corn Bread. The Yam Fries were sweet and delicious. They were more of a flatter, wider cut but were quite large yet still crispy on the outside. Well, after a while, they got soggy and they were not served piping hot to begin with. While they had the crunch, they were good. The chipotle mayo served alongside for dipping was full of flavour and had quite some heat to it, which I really appreciated. The one piece of Corn Bread was decent in size and had the sweet aroma of corn and butter. However, I found it to be on the dry side even though the flavour was good.
The Hot Prawn & Mushroom Salad was decent in size for $14. There were about eight prawns and quite a bit of mushrooms on top of a bed of romaine with a few tomato chunks. The prawns were tender and the mushrooms somewhat flavourful after being sautéed. I just found the mushrooms and prawns to be on the oily side, which is not necessary for simply sautéing. The oil also collected on the bottom of the dish, which made the greens on the bottom too oily to eat. The cheddar cheese strips were large and slightly melted due to the heat from the prawns and mushrooms but did not add much flavour to the dish. For a restaurant besides the harbour, I expected fresh ingredients when it comes to seafood, but I think the ones we got were frozen tiger prawns.
Finally, deciding two dishes were not enough for the three of us since we were all really hungry, we ordered the Black And Blue, blackened blue cod fillet served with sautéed vegetables and Spanish rice pilaf. Mom wanted to try the rice because it looked appetizing in the online photos. I was also in the mood for sautéed vegetables, since so many reviewers said Hog Shack made them really tasty. The cod was nicely blackened while still succulent and somewhat moist inside. The char made it crispy and slightly chewy. The tomato sauce was bland and without much seasoning to flavour it. The Spanish rice was mediocre and I have had better. There were actually a few chunks of rice that were stuck together, which made me wonder when it was made. The vegetables were great though. They were still on the raw side, especially the zucchini since it was not at all mushy yet. The carrots were sweet and the broccoli soaked up the flavour. They were slightly buttered but not much and were a nice, crunchy treat for me.
The servers were nice and the ambiance casual and relaxing. The windows made way for a lot of light and it was a typical little restaurant by the water. This to me will make me want to go back, because the food alone will probably not urge for a return trip if the atmosphere was not something special.