|The Pork Belly Tacos at Black Hogg|
2852 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (Silver Lake) 323-953-2820
While many assume Black Hogg is named for a pig-related animal, its moniker actually refers to a young sheep, which explains the neon lamb on the restaurant's sign. The logo also refers to Chef Eric Park's signature lamb burger that features butter ground into the meat patty, habanero onions and a healthy dose of Onetik Bleu cheese.
What I like about Black Hogg is their varied list of small plates. My favorite is the Pork Belly Tacos: roasted pork belly on house-made corn tortillas topped with apple slaw and jalapeño relish. The richness of the fatty meat is cut by the tart apples and spicy acidity of the peppers for a gorgeously composed plate. Many diners order the "Popcorn" Bacon, which are pieces of house-made bacon that battered and fried then served with a sweet Maple Crema; the Uni Toast; Roast Mushrooms on Brioche; or the Roast Marrow Bones. The Chopped Chicken Liver is quite spicy and a little too grainy, but its chicken skin cracklin' garnish is a nice touch. If you want something on the lighter side, you can't go wrong with a half-dozen fresh oysters (sometimes Blue Points, Tomahawks or Shigokus) dipped in a horseradish cocktail sauce or Spicy Pickle Juice Mignonette, an order of fire-blistered Shishito Peppers or Caesar Salad with tangy Fish Sauce Dressing. As for the entrees, the free-range Cast Iron Chicken is a great choice. The crispy skin has a citrusy tang that reminds me of my mom's Filipino fried chicken brined in soy sauce and calamansi. Chai Spiced Churros provide a unique and extremely addicting finish to the meal.
Originally opened in March, Black Hogg took a three-month break in August to get ready for its beer and wine license. It reopened earlier this month with a list that includes French, Italian, German, Spanish and California wines and several bottled and draft beers, like San Diego's Green Flash IPA and Fort Collins' New Belgium Tart Lychee Ale. A few new dishes were added to the menu, such as the Rossa Berkshire Prosciutto with Crescentina (deep-fried bread) and whole grain mustard, and the Peppery By Night, a flat iron steak braised in Chianti and black pepper. The steak is so tender, you definitely don't need a knife to cut it, and the pureed Yukon potatoes served on the side are the perfect creamy accompaniment to sop up all the extra peppery sauce.