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 Tailsfrom 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 Tailsis 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 werelicking 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.
Annette’s meal consisted of a 2 meat sampler platter with both Chicken Wings and a piece of chicken with sides of Red Beans & Rice, Waterloo Potato Salad and a slice of Corn Bread $14.99
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.”