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Monday, February 27, 2012

Hops & Hominy: Florida Chefs Bring the South to Union Square

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 2:15 PM

For all those daring enough to dash down the dimly lit Tillman Place alley, a buttermilk- battered chicken awaits you.

In the past two years, Southern cooking has exploded in S.F., bringing us The Boxing Room and Criolla Kitchen. But four restaurateurs from northern Florida believe our city has been lacking in their sub-Southern style dishes and tremendous variety of American beers.

After six days of business, half of Hops & Hominy's ownership sat down with SFoodie to take the temperature of Southern dishes in Union Square.

"It's the food we know and the food we can make very well," said H&H General Manager Daniel McKinney.

Half of Hops &Hominy's ownership, GM Daniel McKinney and Beverage Director Adam Edwards (left to right). - ERIN BROWNER
  • Erin Browner
  • Half of Hops &Hominy's ownership, GM Daniel McKinney and Beverage Director Adam Edwards (left to right).

Southern food is known to be deep-fried or cooked for 20 hours, McKinney said, but H&H identifies with New American, coastal Southern food, which demands fresh ingredients.

The freshest meat of all is the tender rabbit wrapped in moist mousse tortellini, which comes from Devils Gulch Ranch, 30 miles north of S.F. The guys insist on serving locally raised ingredients in almost all of their dishes.

The exception to their locally raised law is the alligator tail, a taste of home they could not part with. It's flown in from Florida, then gets the deep-fried treatment for po' boys.

H&H pretty much picked up a slice of northern Florida, carried it with a crane, then plopped it in the center of Union Square. The owners brought authentic southern hospitality with them -- six members of the staff followed the co-owners to H&H from Ocala, Fla.

With friends serving at their side, H&H has become the owners' home away from home. One night, we caught McKinney sitting at the bar with his wife and infant. The place has a mom-and-pop vibe, with real babies giggling in the background.

Half of Hops &Hominy's ownership, GM Daniel McKinney and Beverage Director Adam Edwards (left to right). - ERIN BROWNER
  • Erin Browner
  • Half of Hops &Hominy's ownership, GM Daniel McKinney and Beverage Director Adam Edwards (left to right).

Hops & Hominy plans to launch its happy hour on March 5. Its ever-changing, mega selection of American beers is already a reason to visit its bar, but a dollar discount can't hurt either.

"We don't serve anything mainstream," said Beverage Director Adam Edwards. "We try to be very avant-garde."

Maybe that statement applies to Edward's selection of beers, but are bacon-flavored cocktails avant-garde? Not really, but we don't care. Bacon is the backbone of Southern cooking, and finally the backbone of Southern drinking too.

So bacon-lovers beware. Edwards brews a bacon-infused bourbon for use in his smoked-bacon old fashioned drink special. Imagine that cocktail accompanied with a trio of cornbreads, maple butter, and a maple-glazed pork chop-- are you overwhelmed yet? That meal would only cost about $60, and we doubt you'd have room to eat lunch the next day.

The owners believe one could comfortably dine at H&H for $30, and afford to come more than once a week.

Serving a $30 meal marks H&H as moderately priced, especially among the plethora of glamorous Union Square restaurants. Most surrounding restaurants are rated a whopping three or four dollar signs on Yelp -- eek!

"We're not trying to be gourmet, we're trying to be good," said McKinney. Our small pockets appreciate that.

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Erin Browner


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