Hog Wild BBQ of Caldwell, NJ
The eatery that replaced my favorite Italian restaurant in town (La Stella), was replaced by all things, a BBQ joint. Now don’t get me wrong, if there is anything this town could use, its a good BBQ place. Its just that I wish it was not my favorite Italian restaurant, but these are hard times and nearly any town has its share of Italian restaurants. So, I ate there maybe a few weeks to a month after it opened. I got the meat combo just so I can sample a little of everything. When I think of BBQ I think of red meat or pork, chicken sure, but that would not be my first choice when ordering from a BBQ menu. The chicken was actually my favorite of all 4 meats. The 2nd would have been the St. Louis Ribs, even though I do not like St. Louis style ribs, I prefer baby backs, Chinese or just your regular rack of ribs. The pulled pork was fine too, but the brisket was a disappointment. It was not tender or something you could cut with a fork. I forget now what sides I got with it, but I am sure one was the mashed potatoes which were fine, and probably the cole slaw. Cole slaw is one of those things that its just a spoonful or two, so its either ok or bad. It was ok in this case… I can’t remember the last time I had cole slaw and it screamed out “freshly made” to me.
So since I’ve been back from Brazil, I’ve been wanting a good burger. When I am in Brazil, it tends to be mostly seafood which I could never get enough of, until I am there, then when I get back, I want some good meat, chicken and/or pizza. (Brazil does not make good pizza, its chicken is ok, and the meat is good, but we have plenty of good meat here in the USA). So, I have not had a hamburger in months. So, I looked at the menus tonight, I did not feel like cooking. I really wanted calamari and pizza. One place wanted $9 for fried calamari and $16 for a pizza, the other wanted $12 for calamari and $12 for pizza. Either way, unless I got calamari from one place and pizza from the other, I was going to pay more than I wanted for a simple meal.
Back to the burger. I recently read a tweet from Ottavia Bourdain (Chef Bourdain’s wife) that she was going to make it a Shake Shack night… now, Shake Shack burgers are possibly the finest you can get, not that I’ve ever had one (but plan to), but I know their ingredients. Beef made from a special proprietary cut of beef, fat and/or other type of meat from noted butcher LaFrieda who supplies some of New York’s finest restaurants with meat. The tomatoes are from Lucky’s, the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. You have not had a good tomato unless you’ve had Lucky’s. The bun is very important, it should not be a large piece of bread, which occults the burger or something you cannot get your mouth around. They seem to have a good bun to meat ratio. But, I was not about to drive into Manhattan at 5pm on a Saturday night to grab a burger.
On the Hog Wild BBQ online menu (which you really have to search for, the site is way overdone, but click on HOME then in the yellow on black type on the right, click MENU). They have a hamburger called “Porkin’ The Bull” which is, as they describe, and 80z burger “stuffed” with chopped bacon, caramelized onions and shredded cheddar. Now what sounds better than that? They come with fries, slaw and the lettuce, raw onion come on the side. At first site, the burger looks perfect, its got a great bun, not too big or small, and the burger was cooked perfectly with a nice char on the outside. What was curious to me was the thickness, it was only about 1/4″ thick. So how could it be “stuffed” with bacon, caramelized onion and cheddar? So, I take a bite. It tasted more like it was stuffed with salt. I can taste the bacon, and I saw the onions which looked white (like White Castle’s which are steamed) but certainly not caramelized. The cheddar? I did not taste that, but maybe it got lost in the salty taste which was far more prominent than any of the “stuffing” about the only thing I could taste was a salty burger, maybe a bit of bacon. No problem, it was still not a bad burger, just way too salty, and the components they made sound so tempting and appetizing, were lost in the salt.
So, for $9 I wonder if I would have gotten something less salty, more bacon and cheese taste and less expensive (and just as tasty) from Wendy’s for a few bucks less? Wendy’s is probably the best of the fast food burgers if there is any such thing. However, you have to try all healthy alternatives, and while this may have been it. I am still thirsty and drinking water hours later. So, mixed reviews on Hog Wild BBQ. They are worth one more shot, like any place, I give them all 3 chances and I always order something different even if the first time I go there the meal is great. This is my litmus test for rating a good place, an ok place or a place I will never return to.
Some links mentioned in this post/blog that might be of interest: