Locavore Meets Locapour at Hog's Apothecary
Goodbye, laundromat; hello, go-to gastropub where beer and sausage rule.
If Oakland is a city filled with industrious dreamers, then John Streit and Bradford Earle are visionaries of the culinary elite. When Da House of Suds Laundromat closed in late 2011, vacating a prime corner of real estate in Oakland’s Mosswood neighborhood (or, as of late, aka the Jewel Box area, so-called for its gem-named streets such as Ruby, Opal, and Emerald), Streit saw an opportunity that others may have considered a bit unrealistic. He wanted to transform the space into an American-style beer hall specializing in house-made sausages. And today, he’s found success.
After an eight-month build-out, which included digging up an actual street curb from inside the location’s infrastructure, Hog’s Apothecary opened its doors in early September.
“We are doing whole animals, breaking down pigs. We’re bringing in parts of sheep and cows, but it’s definitely pork-focused,” says Streit. “We also have mixed grill, which right now is quail and rabbit sausage with shell bean ragout and escarole.”
Additionally, the menu also features corn dogs, sandwiches, and sides such as turnips in pig juice. There’s also the Lil Salty, which is what Streit describes as an American version of the petit salé: braised pork belly served on a bed of cannellini purée.
While Streit handles the kitchen and Earle mans the front of house, beer director Sayre Piotrkowski (formerly of San Francisco’s The Monk’s Kettle) keeps the bar well stocked. With 33 domestic craft beers on tap, four wines on draft, and also a tap of root beer, there’s plenty to choose from. Piotrkowski adds that Hog’s Apothecary also boasts “10 to 14 beers that age well in the bottle.”
And then, there are firkin kegs. These are small-cask ales made especially for Hog’s Apothecary. This means local brewers fill a keg with one of their own beers and then add some additional components to make the flavor unique before sending it back to the restaurant.
The spacious venue is designed to be community-style, with long hardwood tables and benches filling the room. Streit says, “Having lived in the area for a while, I know there’s a lot of young families coming into the neighborhood. I think that by virtue of that, there’s a strong sense of community and that’s why we went with this communal seating. We tried to embrace that ethos that ‘even if we live in a big city, people should know each other.’ ”
If patrons choose to sit at the bar (which stretches nearly from the open kitchen to the front door), there are two televisions to keep them occupied. “We’re not a sports bar, but sausage and beer lend themselves to watching football,” says Earle.
After a year and a half of planning, Streit and Earle are happy to be welcoming Oakland residents into what they see as a place to relax and unwind; just as a pharmacy serves an array of cures for ailments, so Hog’s Apothecary serves a number of “cures” to its patrons. Streit says, “The idea is that when you make sausage or make bacon, you put a cure on the meat. And we have an array of drinks, and some people rely on that as their cure.”
Sausage and beer? That will make anyone feel better.
Hog's Apothecary, 375 40th St., Oakland, 510-338-3847, www.HogsApothecary.com.