On Friday I was able to do both.
Kitchener, Ontario is where my parents live and just north of there is Waterloo where I found a BBQ Joint that I really wanted to visit called Hog Tails BarBQue I had heard through the grapevine that Hog Tails was a small but very busy and popular BBQ Joint.
Also too I had been talking to Annette Penney who on twitter and facebook is well known to the BBQ Community and is a Social Media Management genius. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario
Annette had been telling me all about the SKrAPr and their new product called the GrILLr which is a BBQ grate SKrAPr and I wanted to do a future product review of the product. So we put two and two together and thought lets meet at Hog Tails BarBQue and she could pass on to me the SKrAPr samples and enjoy a BBQ meal at the same time allowing me to do this review with a format that is a little different.
Now you may think that Kitchener/Waterloo is a bit far to drive to have dinner and yes from Oshawa it is about a 2 hour drive but I had business to do in Mississauga which is more than half way there so it was not really far out of my way.
We both arrived at Hog Tails BarBQue with in a minute of each other and we were afraid that getting there at 6:15 pm on a Friday night was going to be a very busy time.
Annette and I had been talking about meeting at Hog Tails for a number of weeks and both of us were looking forward to this greatly and the anticipation was building!
We walked in and every table was in use and the take out counter was also very busy, but we were first in line for a table and decided to wait it out.
At first the server figured it would be a 30 minute wait so we sat in some chairs at the front window and chatted with some people that were waiting for their take out order and though they had not been before they were excited to try the food that they had heard such good things about.
That 30 minute wait was only shortened to only about 5 so we were then directed to a table.
Looking around the restaurant I liked the decor of the restaurant where an entire wall is filled with framed pictures of Southern BBQ.
It was only a table for two but we had 5 at our table as I had brought Coolio along for the trip (He is a bit of a ham and likes to get his picture in my blog from time to time) and when she heard that I was bringing him with me she brought a couple of playmates along (no not those kind of Playmates) but rather they were playmates for Coolio. Twins named Peppermint & Patty, I thought that was so cool!
I found that the menu was very busy looking and my eyes wandered quite a bit trying to make sense of it all but the choices did look very appetizing. But I do think the menu was very creative in it’s art design, below are a couple of pics I took of the menu that you can click on and enlarge them. though it may still be a bit tough to read.
Rachel was our server and was a wonderful gal that is a university student that was very educated in her knowledge of the menu along with the business history and very friendly as well. She is a definite plus to the staff of Hog Tails.
For drinks I asked for a Coors Light but was told they did not have that though they had a similar product called Original Organic Lager made by Mill Street Brewery in Toronto, I was happy with Rachel choice, tasted quite good actually. Annette went with a Red Wine.
After asking Rachel what she would recommend since this was our first visits to Hog Tails we decided on the sampler plates I ordered the 3 meat version and chose to try the Ribs, Brisket and the Pulled pork, it comes with Cornbread plus two choices of sides and I picked the Cuban Corn and the Jalapeno stuffed Hush Puppies.
Annette asked me where the term Hush puppies came from and she did not know what they were I explained what they were and let my fellow reviewer try one but I was stumped to how the name came about so I used google and looked it up. I found this to be the answer….
History of Hush Puppies
So, how did hush puppies get their name? They were perhaps the original treat (aka bribe) for Fido. Legends tell how Southern fishermen and Civil War soldiers first made the golden nuggets from scraps just to toss to barking and begging dogs with the command to “Hush, puppy.”
If you click on the title above it will bring you to the page that I borrowed the quote from.
And by the way Annette I was not trying to bribe you, try to quiet you or say that I thought you were a dog or that I was feeding you table scraps lol!
I was really pleased with my Cuban Corn which was mixed with a wonderful blend of spices, and the Hush Puppies were really tasty and came with a mayo based dipping sauce that was also spiced up, yum! the corn bread was fluffy with a great texture to it, kind of like pound cake.
As far as my BBQ meat goes the Ribs were finger licking great!!! (compared to that chicken chain that can only say it is finger licking good… little play on words there.)
The meat came off the bone nicely and I could taste the seasonings used which were a great combination of flavours and was matched perfectly with their house sauce that was sweet but still had a nice little kick to it. World class winner for the Ribs.
Unfortunately I could not be quite as kind with my comments on the Pulled Pork and the Brisket.
I found the Pulled Pork to be a little tough and dry, the bark was nice and the serving was generous and I think that the sauce is a good choice on Pulled Pork (I chose the sweet over the Carolina style sauce) but the overall texture of the pork was not something that I enjoyed.
As to my thoughts on the Brisket, some was very tasty and tender, however there were a few clumps of fat mixed in and I am not talking about small little pieces. I think that a little bit more care could of been used when carving up the Brisket, just glancing at the Brisket and the Pulled Pork they looked very similar, To me I think it would be better to slice rather than shred the Brisket as that would present better on the plate. If you look at the picture in the background on Hog Tails twitter page you will see how I think the Brisket should be presented.
As we sat, ate and talked about the food and also the SKrAPr business we noticed that there was a steady line of people that came into the restaurant and it did seem that Ribs was the choice of many of the patrons. By the way you will notice that in the right sidebar of my blog you will see an ad for the GrILLr that you can click on and that will bring you to the SKrAPr facebook page, please be sure to drop by and check it all out.
Overall my impressions are that this is a world class Southern Style BBQ Restaurant with a great staff and for the most part great BBQ food, even though a couple of the items were not the best they could be, I can still give Hog Tails a glowing recommendation.
Since Annette was also here with me, I thought it would nice to get a second persons review on the evening so here in her own words is Annette Penney aka the SKrAPr Lady, Annette is not only the Social Media relations manager for SKrAPr but she also has her own Social Media company Inspire & Acquire
It Was…… My First Time
Annette A. Penney, BA(Hons), MA
I’m a late bloomer. Always have been. When I was 30, I decided to compete in bodybuilding (I was a mere 105 lbs. at the time). When I turned 40, I was in the midst of a 7-year stint in university. A few days after I turned 50, with no experience what-so-ever, Fred asked me if I was interested in doing a review of Hog Tails BBQ Restaurant in Waterloo. “No problem!” I exclaimed to Fred. After all I thought to myself, I’ve ventured into unknown areas in my life before…..I’m not afraid! That was until the day arrived that I was to meet Fred at Hog Tails. That was yesterday. Keep in mind as you read my review that not only am I new to barbeque restaurant reviews, I’m new to the barbeque community. I’ve met some wonderful people on Facebook over the last couple of months in the various barbeque groups and on the pages of every kind of barbeque business known to man. I’ve been exposed to terminology and products I’ve never heard of before. My mind swims with visions of grates, grills, smokers, pits, brushes, charcoal, bricks, sauces, rubs (huh???), marinades, wood chips and chunks, wood planks, and the most horrifying yet …. up-the-butt beer can chicken! It’s a wonder I haven’t had nightmares.
The Inexperienced One: Annette’s Review
I have heard raving reviews about Hog Tails from various friends and family members in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. When I first arrived there last night I was so excited I could barely contain myself. Not only was I anxious to try the food, I had a surprise for Fred’s penguin, Coolio. I was taking in the sights: tee shirts on the wall, a colourful chalkboard menu, and I caught a flurry of activity in the kitchen from the corner of my eye. Fred and I were immediately greeted by a very pleasant staff member who informed us that our wait would be half an hour. Not too bad I thought considering that this place is lined out the door and down the sidewalk at lunch time! Not 2 minutes later this bubbly girl came back to tell us it would only be a 10 minute wait and we were seated 5 minutes later.
We were extremely fortunate last night to have been the guests of Rachel, the most wonderful server that I’ve had in a good long time (and I eat at some pretty fine restaurants sometimes). She was quite patient with us, having to come back to the table many times to ask if we were ready to order. Each time she came back we gave her the same response: “We haven’t even looked at the menu yet.” The menu at Hog Tails is not only impressive, it’s extensive. Fred and I spent a fair bit of time examining the menu, taking pictures of it, and talking back and forth about the content. The consensus seemed to be, “Oh my goodness….WHAT are you ordering??!!” Everything looked so good it was a difficult choice, especially for me – The Inexperienced One. I eat a salad almost every day so I wanted some real barbeque but I found that even the salads were tempting! Hog Tails’ Pristine Gourmet Salad has candied pecans, red onions, and goat’s milk cheese served on fresh greens with raspberry vinaigrette. Hmmmm……maybe I could take one home for tomorrow I thought. In the meantime, people sitting at the surrounding tables were licking their rib bones. Licking! In public! Seriously, could the ribs be that good?!
Since it was my first time in a “real” barbeque restaurant, I asked our server Rachel for her recommendations. She suggested that we try one of their sampler platters. I ordered the 2-meat platter with BBQ chicken breast and their version of “smoky” wings. Deciding on the side dishes was torturous for me because all of the options looked so delicious! I ended up choosing Waterloo County potato salad, beans n’ rice, and corn bread was included. I also placed an order for a pulled pork sandwich to take home to my teenage daughter Alexia. Being the carnivore I fully expected, Fred ordered a 3-meat platter with a side order of something called “Hush Puppies.” I couldn’t wait to see this one. The only Hush Puppies I ever heard of were shoes so I was slightly petrified yet extremely curious at what was going to be on Fred’s plate when it arrived at our table.
I knew that dining out with Fred was going to be a learning experience and I had no shortage of questions. For instance, what is the difference between Carolina pulled pork and Southern style pulled pork? What part of the pig does pulled pork come from? How do you MAKE pulled pork? Those were just my questions on one BBQ food item! I took it easy on Fred though and limited my questions to no more than 72. Just for that one meal. When our food arrived, I wasn’t as interested in mine as I was Fred’s. I had to find out what the heck a Hush Puppy looked like and better yet, what did it taste like?! Fred gave me a piece of this deep-fried corn bread with jalapeno yumminess. Later I tried it with the dip. Both times, deee-lish.
Overall, I quite enjoyed all of my food. The taste of the smoky wings was a flavour I can’t say I’ve had before. It was the teeniest bit sweet, a lot of smoky, and not too hot. Unlike other heavy corn breads I’ve ever eaten or made myself, Hog Tails’ corn bread was fluffy and moist. As a person who is accustomed to eating plenty of chicken breasts, I have to say I was surprised that my chicken breast came with a piece of fat attached. I’m not used to that. Other than that, I have no complaints or constructive feedback for “The General” (Hog Tails’ owner and head chef). The portion sizes were generous but not over-the-top; there was enough left over for me to bring home and eat twice the following day. When I came home I gave my daughter Alexia her pulled pork sandwich. April, one of my older daughters was home at the time eating her own dinner when I heard Alexia say, “April!!! You have to try this!!!” When I turned around April was taking a huge bite of Alexia’s sandwich. Alexia jumped up from the table and gave me a big hug and said, “Thanks mom! This is sooooooo good!” Mom scores points with the kids. For a change.
Last night as I was saying my prayers in bed I prayed for God to not let me get hooked on all of this great BBQ food. I need to lose weight as it is I figure. I don’t always know how God will answer my prayers but this time I feel confident how he will answer that one. “Don’t count on it honey.”
I would like to thank Annette for not only meeting with me at Hog Tails to bring me the SKrAPr samples but also partake in this review, I think you will agree with me that her review was well written, entertaining and of interest.
Annette can be reached at email@example.com or by phone 519-616-3444
You can also follow her on twitter @InspiredAnnette
Facebook is also a place that you can find Annette Penney
After getting home I sent an email to the “General” himself Chris Corrigan the Chef/Owner of Hog Tails BarBQue and I asked him a few question that he was kind enough to answer for me.
Here is that entire Interview….
1. Chris could you please give us some back ground into yourself first of all, what your background was before you opened Hog Tails and how Hog Tails came to be?
Hog Tails was the name of our KCBS Competition Team so it was a natural to name the restaurant. I owned a large distribution company in SW Ontario that I sold in 2007.
We spent 15 yrs on the KCBS circuit and won a Grand Championship in 2004. My wife and I are both KCBS Certified Judges and we teach a KCBS Judging Class annually in Pennsylvania.
Our competition experience (and equipment) led us to all types of catering and we opened a small BBQ business in a small town just outside Waterloo. Unable to build a commercial kitchen in the building we were in, we found a small restaurant that was going out of business (our current location) and intended to run a catering kitchen and retail store from there. The plans changed when my oldest daughter joined the business. She is a graduate of Conestoga College’s Hospitality Management Program. We opened with 12 seats on August 17 2009. Now we run a licensed 30 seat restaurant and have a substantial catering business that serves private events, business and festivals. I am currently working toward my Red Seal Chef’s Certification- just to prove to myself that I can do it!
2. Obviously you have a passion for BBQ, What is it that attracts you to it and what is the satisfaction that you get out of it?
I have been cooking (and cooking BBQ) for over 25 years- ever since my first business trips to Texas, where incidentally I met David Klose in Houston and bought my first offset BBQ pit from him. I love experimenting with smoke, spices, meat (I have formal training in butchery) and ingredients. We have traveled the south extensively for years and I have cooked in restaurants in the Carolinas, Mississippi and Louisiana. I love the foodways and hospitality of the American South and we have taken that experience and fused it with our great local ingredients.
The greatest satisfaction is having great customers love our food.
3. When I was there I did not get a chance to see your smoking equipment what do you use to smoke your meats? and what wood do you use?
We use Cookshack smokers in the restaurant due to fire and building code restrictions and health regulations. We have a Fast Eddy FE750 and a Southern Pride XL1400 both mounted on trailers for events and restaurant backup. You may have seen the FE750 in the back parking lot on your visit. These units use hickory wood or hickory pellets exclusively. I have 2 Meadow Creek PR72 Pig Roasters on trailers and a variety of other equipment. We have a fully equipped 24’ mobile commissary trailer that we use for many of the corporate events we do.
4. Besides the standard Pork, Chicken and Brisket what else do you use the Smoker for?
None of our meat is standard! LOL! We source all our Pork Shoulders from Waterloo County Mennonite farms. Our ribs are cut specifically for us and are a 40-44oz 13 and up St. Louis cut. Our chicken is all free range and we marinate, then smoke our boneless skinless thighs, breasts, ½ chickens and wings before we finish them on the grill. Our briskets (and all our beef) is from the Ontario Corn fed program and it’s all AAA or higher. We make and smoke our own bacon in house as well as andouille sausage, pork belly, short ribs and several charcuterie items. In the fall we will be butchering and curing our own prosciutto and tasso ham. We currently smoke then braise over 300 pig tails in a week. All our sauces and rubs were developed by me. We make everything from scratch, in house. Absolutely everything- including our mayonnaise!
5. You have been open for a couple of years now and I saw first hand how busy it is there on a Friday night so it is clear you have a great following, Any plans for future expansion?
Yes, we are actively looking for a larger more central location that will help us achieve our vision. We have several “irons in the fire” and are working diligently.
6. What can you tell me about your staff? I was very impressed with our server Rachel’s knowledge and happy personality. Is there anything you can add about her and the rest of your crew?
This is truly a family business. Both my daughters are involved and manage the FOH and Catering/Marketing. All our team participates in a training program that focuses on our Mission Statement and Guiding Principles. Over all we try to deliver a great customer experience focusing on Southern Hospitality meets Waterloo County tradition. I have a professional Chef managing my kitchen (I am actually his apprentice!) and we collaborate on all our food creations. I do the research and together we develop menus and he manages the execution.
7. Here is your opportunity to do a pitch to people that have not yet tried Hog Tails BarBQue what would you like to say to them?
We pride ourselves on making really great food and work really hard delivering a special experience. Come try us out, we hope you agree!
Thanks to Chris for taking the time out to answer my questions after such a busy weekend Not only was the Restaurant a going concer but Chris mentioned to me that they cooked all of the food for the artists performing at the Kitchener Blues Festival including the Gregg Allman band. And no Chris I did not get the chance to see your smokers but next time I am in the area I will stop by to have a look (and eat) and take some pics too!
As for Hog Tails BarBQue They are open 6 days a week Monday – Wednesday 11am til 7 pm, Thursday – Saturday 11am til 9pm and closed on Sundays.
Phone # 519-888-9911 and email is… firstname.lastname@example.org