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Restaurant Review: Hoggy’s Restaurant

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Hoggy’s RestaurantPhotos by Lauren Sega.
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Before City Barbecue hit town, Hoggy’s was pretty much the place for local barbecue aficionados. It had a stranglehold on the Columbus market, with several locations throughout the Central Ohio region in the 1990s. But things change. Eaters are fickle, tastes change, and new competition enters the scene; nothing lasts forever. Hoggy’s presence in the market ebbed until its only remaining outlet was as a side operation out of a Johnny Bucelli’s project on the north end.

It was all but dead.

A recent drive by the aforementioned outlet offered a new perspective. The address now houses a Hoggy’s: a real Hoggy’s. In fact, according to the host, it’s been a real Hoggy’s for a year.

There was great rejoicing in the land. There was also some trepidation: experiences with the restaurant chain in its dying days were not terrific. That is, of course, part of the whirlpool of death for any restaurant. When a restaurant starts to struggle, its quality goes down, when quality declines, no one wants to eat there. If no one eats there, the restaurant makes no money. Presto: Death of restaurant.

So, the pressing first question on the agenda was this: Is the Smoked Half Chicken ($12.95) right again? Happily, it has returned to its former glory. It is huge; a half chicken the size of a full rotisserie chicken. The dark hue of its skin betrays meat that is fully imbibed with smoky flavor — succulent, and completely binge-worthy.

Staying in the chicken department a little longer, you can also get Smoked Wings ($11.95) in a variety of flavors, including garlic ranch, Cajun and hogfire. The Jamaican version tried was on the cloyingly sweet side, which overwhelmed any smokiness. One and done, but that’s not to say there won’t be further tries with other flavors.

The Single Pig sandwich ($8.95) permits an opportunity to try out the house brisket (not a pig) on a long, soft bun. The brisket is lean and thinly sliced with more smoky flavor that teams well with the sweetness of the house barbecue sauce.

Ribs ($16.95) are also on the menu. Lean and meaty, they’re okay, but lots of places have good ribs in this day and age. So, back to the chicken instead: the BBQ Nachos ($9.95) with chicken are a new favorite. It’s the requisite chips, covered with melted cheese, salsa, sour cream and miles and miles of hunks of smoked chicken. The chicken pieces are large enough to appreciate their quality and flavor contributions.

Dining options such as the aforementioned half chicken are served with sides. The house baked beans and macaroni and cheese are both recommended choices. The former, because the tangy beans have more complexity and care than your average baked beans, the latter, because of uncommon cheesiness.

Also, there’s a kids menu with mini-versions of Hoggy’s offerings. There’s also an option to order grown-up Loaded Fries, which will make you immortal in the eyes of junior guests. An order yields a dinner-plate-sized serving of fries doused in cheese sauce, ranch dressing, and something like a pound of bacon crumbles. It is $4.50, and surely every bit as nutritious as chicken tenders. You can find it all at 830 Bethel Rd.

For more information, visit hoggys.com.

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