Do you know what a hogshead is? Neither did Alexis and John, co-owners of HogsHead Kitchen and Wine Bar, until August of 2012. They didn’t even know they wanted to open a restaurant together until then, either. So after a very long sequence of events (you’ll have to get the entire story from them as it dates back all the way to the very early ‘90s), here they are in the Lowcountry, with their very own creative concept in HogsHead Kitchen and Wine Bar.
A hogshead is a 63-gallon barrel, used in the olden days to transport materials, frequently overseas. Shipping merchants would often times describe the size of their ship by how many hogsheads it could carry. Common contents of the wooden barrel were tasty beverages such as whiskey, rum, or wine and frequently included other necessities like flour, sugar or wheat.
So how does this relate and matter to HogsHead Kitchen and Wine Bar? John has always called the Lowcountry his home and is a classically-trained graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC, specializing in French technique and adoring French wine. When Alexis and John realized they had the opportunity to do their own thing in this spot, they wanted to create a concept that embraced all the Lowcountry had to offer while utilizing John’s expertise in wine selection and food preparation and presentation. The word for wine barrel in French is barrique, but that was already a really swank restaurant in NYC, so they certainly couldn’t name their place that. That’s when they learned the common, every-day word for that same barrel in English was hogshead.
That common, yet uncommon term ended up working better anyway, as the food is certainly unique but not pretentious and the atmosphere they created is of a warm, cozy and inviting early-century and humble manor home. Alexis and John themselves designed, decorated and (more times than not) built the place you see today. Alexis’s totally-retired and awesome-sport parents helped in painting most of the brown wainscoting you see throughout the restaurant.
Walking into the bar, the huge tables you see to the right are actually 200+ year-old barn doors, sourced from Quakertown, PA with original iron work to boot; the one in the back actually dates to a pre-revolution time. Alexis sanded and finished the barn door tabletops and John built the table bases. The bench seats are actually 1930’s church pews from a Polish-Catholic church in Wilmington, DE. They didn’t even know it until they put them in place at the restaurant, but John’s Mommom went to church with his great-grandpa and sat in those same pews, years ago.
Walking into the dining room, you’ll sit in arm chairs (hand-stained and finished by Alexis’s mom) and dine atop butcher-block tables under mason jar lights. All the artwork was hand-selected (and matted and framed, most times) by Alexis and John, as they wanted their guests to feel they were being welcomed into their house. The bathrooms are an exception to their modest decor; Alexis wouldn’t have had it any other way, so make sure you check them out!
OK, you get it; the place is unique but what kind of food can you get at HogsHead Kitchen and Wine Bar? John loves to tap into his French culinary training for innovative twists on everyday fare; he changes the menu selection as often as the tides roll in. The food is upscale, yet moderately priced. You can have anything from a burger to a five-course tasting menu expertly paired with wine, and all things in between. It doesn’t matter if you come in during lunch or dinner time since they’re offering their full menu all day long.
There’s a kid’s menu, too. John’s little girl, Addison, is quite the chef-in-training. When Alexis and John were creating the menu, she made sure there was an appropriate selection of tasty choices to fit her peers’ taste buds. She took great pride in hand-selecting – and then hand-writing – the items for the under 4-foot crowd. Addison even made a point to call attention to the fact that there needed to be vegetables on the kid’s menu, hence the “summer vegetbles” option.
If you have a polite pooch, he or she is welcome to join you for lunch or dinner outside where there is seating for about forty people (plus several furry friends).
Enough said – come out to HogsHead Kitchen and Wine Bar and take a tour of the place, have some delish bites to eat and enjoy! Cheers!