Hog & Hominy rocks seasonal cocktails, farm-fresh sides, and an innovative pizza menu.
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman in front of Hog & Hominy with the establishment's management and culinary leaders.
photography by Justin Fox Burks
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Snagging a table near Hog & Hominy’s impressive brick oven isn’t always easy, especially on busy weekend nights when the energy of the place crescendos into an upbeat din. I visited the East Memphis restaurant three or four times before sitting close enough to watch Chef Trevor Anderson make pizzas, an almost contemplative ritual where he turns out some 200 pizzas every day.
From the start I was mesmerized by the dough, tossed hand-to-hand in quarter-turns, the parade of mise en place framed by filtered sunlight, and the red-oak logs, flicking flames into the far reach of the 950-degree oven. So was my husband, who clocked the pizzas’ cooking times.
“Just under three minutes,” he said, as Anderson swung a long-handled pizza peel from oven to plate.
Unlike my husband, the chefs at Hog & Hominy rely on skill and intuitive timing to make pizzas and meatballs in the wood-burning brick oven, built with repurposed bricks from the restaurant’s renovation. “With the pizzas, we are pretty much eyeing it,” said chef and co-owner Michael Hudman. “If we mess up, we start over.”
Hudman and boyhood pal Andrew Ticer opened the much-anticipated restaurant in mid-July, located down the street on Brookhaven Circle from its big sister, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. True to its moniker, an early nickname for the state of Tennessee, this lively bar and bistro celebrates heritage-breed pork, seasonal ingredients, and the collaborative whims of chefs from both restaurants.
The lunch menu’s fried chicken sandwich, for instance, grew from a chat between chefs about how Chick-fil-A brines its chicken overnight. (Who knew?) They decided to try brining with the liquid leftover from the restaurant’s pickle relish.
We tried the chicken sandwich during our first visit for lunch, along with the shrimp BLT, a mix of shrimp, Benton bacon, basil, parsley, and thyme mixed in a light cream sauce and served on sourdough. A side of either house-made potato chips (excellent!) or compressed fruit came with each plate. I opted for fruit, an unexpected taste treat of cubed watermelon flavored with salt, chili pepper, and lime juice. The customers next to us got mango, similarly prepared.
For starters, we ordered an artful mound of vinaigrette salad made with tomatoes, fresh basil, local cucumbers, thinly sliced red onions, and cracked black pepper applied with generous turns. My husband selected the day’s chalkboard special: a white ceramic bowl filled with cream of mushroom soup, bacon leeks, and a drizzle of oil.