I have a hate – hate relationship with Spam. This originates from my early school days when Spam fritters for lunch was dreaded by one and all.
One of the many schools I went to (no Rachel I wasn’t expelled from any – perhaps slightly fortuitiously) put great emphasis on the virtue of frugality and therefore any wasting of food (no matter how revolting that food may have been) was viewed as a sin! This meant a clean plate policy was rigorously enforced and on Spam Fritter day that was no fun at all.
As a result of this policy anything which could hold food in the pocket (so as to smuggle out said vile Spam fritter) without leakage (they leaked greasy awfulness) was greatly prized. Crisp packets were ideal and almost became currency.
This is a rather long winded (very me) introduction to the inclusion on the otherwise lovely looking menu at hotdog (move over burgers, dogs are the new black) joint, Hogwurst, of Spam.
I raised this (to me perverse) inclusion with Hogwurst on Twitter, stating I loved the look of their menu bar from the Spam and indicated it would take some doing to make me eat, let alone like, Spam due to my bitter memories of the stuff. This challenged was duly accepted by Hogwurst and how could I then say no I am not playing ball or rather Quidditch (gulp).
Located in the heart of Cardiff “University land” it is a nice informal sort of place. I suspect that the cumulative age of Mrs. SF and I was greater than the staff and rest of the other diners put together!
I was so far off the student discount (10% off) that none of the staff or other diners were, I am sure, alive when I was a student at Cardiff Uni.
I love the informity of the place and some of their presentation props – the use of Tate and Lyle golden syrup tins (takes me back to golden syrup sandwiches of my youth) for the fries tickled me.
Dogs are really the only game in town here with the menu giving a tantalising number of options to add to your base bun and frank.
On the subject of the all important frank, these are sauced by Hogwurst from artisan charcuterie producers Native Breeds who are based in Gloucester. Top dogs are their forte.
The brioche buns used to house their dogs are from Allens Bakery in Cardiff. Great buns, as I told Mrs. SF many times before she threatened physical violence if I said it one more time (well I thought it was funny).
Whilst tempted by the Dogfather, I went for that classic the chilli dog (£6.50).
This was a pedigree dog (excuse the pun). Full of flavour, with a nice snap to it and a good chilli on top (bit more heat wouldn’t have gone amiss mind). I also loved the texture that was added to the mix by the addition of crushed doritos
Mrs. SF decided on the Texan (£6.50), which consisted of chunks of nice crispy fried chicken, BBQ sauce and a load of lovely sweet caramelised onions (which looked like they had been cooked down for days) in addition to her frank.
Both dogs were really good and delightfully messy to eat when abiding by my strict no cutlery rule for dogs. l had chilli on my nose and cheeks (and probably forehead) at one point.
So to the sides
and my nemesis, Spam.
It came in breadcrumbed sticks, hiding the mottled hideousness of Spam, with a sweet chilli dip (£3). Despite the sticks looking and smelling rather nice, my first bite was one of great trepidation. Much to my surprise it wasn’t half bad.
A good crisp coating and an excellent sweet chilli dip worked their magic in making the encased Spam edible.
I have to say they were best eaten piping hot as once they cooled their inherent Spaminess comes to the fore and they weren’t quite so nice. All in all I did think they were surprisingly edible and we did finish them all, which frankly amazed me.
Other sides ordered were “fully loaded” fries (£4.50).
A sort of poutine, to my mind, these were a little uninspiring (I resisted the temptation to add sliced franks or pulled pork – for £1 extra – to them which in hindsight that would have added a bit of needed pizzazz).
This cheese, gravy and fries combo (with the rather odd addition of shedded lettice) was nice enough, although I would have preferred the cheese cubes to have melted a tad more and a bit more gravy. I am also not sure it warranted the £4.50 price tag as against the £2 for other fries on offer.
Clean plates/trays etc were testimony to how much Mrs. SF and I enjoyed our meal at Hogwurst.
They have a BYO policy, with no corkage charge (yippee), so I brought my own.
Dogs, especially those with multiple and diverse topping such as those at Hogwurst, are quite hard to match wine wise and I would usually go the craft beer route. There are, however, a few wines that do fit the bill nicely (including Mosel riesling – classic with a dog and sauerkraut).
I got mine for this meal from Morrisons with their M Range, including a very decent Gruner (at a bargain price of £6.99).
This wine is great with spice and diverse flavours so was ideal for the dogs and sides Mrs. SF and I ordered.
The citrus flavours with a touch of white pepper spice coming from this wine worked a treat with the chilli and BBQ spice in the dogs we had, as well as the chilli dip with the Spam.
I rather liked the jam jars we were given as glasses for our wine.
Any place that gets me to try Spam, let alone eat it all without grimacing gets a big thumbs from me.
Add to this delicious dogs and the ability to bring you own booze (at no charge) and you have a very happy me.
Would I go back? Definitely. Would I have the Spam next time – hmmmm – maybe not (but I can’t say I didn’t think it wasn’t surprisingly OK, I just think I prefer onion rings).
Not sure if that means Man or Spam won? I would say at Hogwurst everyone is a winner.
Cost wise we paid £21.50 for the two of us (excluding a well deserved tip) which I thought was excellent value, especially as you can take your own booze at no extra cost.
With Hogwurst and Drunken Sailor cooking up imaginative, tasty dogs and Charcuterie Ltd producing and selling great franks, to cook at home, at the Roath and Riverside Farmers Markets Cardiff really is the tops on the dog front at the moment.
Eat in and take away are available.
56 North Road
Tel: 079 0884 4278
Monday: 9:30am till 5pm
Tuesday to Friday: 9:30am till 9pm
Monday to Friday: 10am till 3pm, 5pm till 9pm
Weekends: 10am till 9pm
No bookings are taken, am afraid.