Dusk seems to be the perfect time of day for Red Hog. Sunlight streams into this beautifully renovated former gas station through two glass garage doors that open when the weather is right. Soon enough, as the light begins to gradually fade, the heart of the room – a stainless steel and copper wood burning oven – begins to glow. While there are a few small tables for two, most of the well-designed, high, rectangular tables on the restaurant side are communal with no space wasted; even the design reflects the ethos of Red Hog.
Located on Frankfort Avenue, one of Louisville’s favorite, most walkable streets, Red Hog is both an artisan butcher shop and restaurant, owned and operated by Bob Hancock and Kit Garret. Anyone who has spent much time on Frankfort Avenue will recognize them both as the longtime owners of the much-loved Blue Dog Bakery and Café. Bob and Kit have put over 20 years into Blue Dog, and their reputation for attention to detail and commitment to approachable, delicious, artisan food is definitely continued in this new venture. Red Hog first opened its doors in late-September 2016, starting with the butcher shop and then eventually opening the restaurant five days a week in November of that same year.
As the name probably makes clear, Red Hog is focused on meat — the name comes from the variety of hogs raised on Bob and Kit’s farm located in Goshen, KY, but the focus is a very specific one. Red Hog is a “whole animal” butcher shop, which means every part of the animal is used, with an emphasis on sourcing locally and raising animals ethically and humanely. Artisan in this case means something — the meat crafted at Red Hog comes from the hands of highly skilled butchers who have a connection to how the animal was raised. This investment in the final product, whether it’s a precisely trimmed cut of meat from the shop or a small, perfect pizza from the wood-burning oven, becomes clearly worth it after the first bite.
Red Hog Artisan Butcher Shop
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sunday & Monday
Located in one half of Red Hog’s renovated building (in the waiting area of the former garage), the butcher shop has a few small tables, a small drink cooler and an unmistakably friendly neighborhood feel. Two immaculately clean and artfully arranged glass-front deli cases are filled with fresh cuts of beef, pork, chicken and lamb, cured meats and house-made items like rotisserie chicken, bacon, Polish sausage, soppressata, mortadella, smoked jowl, pancetta and more, all of which vary based on season and supply. Red Hog’s shop also offers artisanal cheeses, Blue Dog bread (of course), and prepared foods like a daily soup and hot and cold sandwiches (one each). Keep in mind that these change everyday and are in short supply, so stop by at 11:30 a.m. if you need a sandwich fix.
Red Hog keeps a curated selection of locally sourced and house-made signature condiments and pantry basics like pickles, butter and bottled sauces. The cross-trained shop staff is incredibly knowledgeable and can easily help select the best cut of meat for that night’s dinner with tips on how to cook it. The vibe here is, yes, these people know their stuff, but they’re also completely approachable. The folks of Red Hog are proud of what they offer and eager to help you enjoy it. SB TIP: If you want help creating a cheese and charcuterie plate to impress, this is definitely the place to make that happen.
Red Hog Restaurant
Hours: Chalkboard menu available Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Full bar open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. with happy hour from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Red Hog’s eat-in restaurant is housed on the same side where cars formerly spilled oil onto the concrete floor. While the floors are still concrete — albeit now clean and polished — and the doors still lift to open, this mid-20th century utilitarian building has been transformed into a warm, inviting space. The focal point of the room is Red Hog’s exposed kitchen with its wood fired grill and gleaming wood-burning pizza oven. Just like its sister restaurant and bakery, Red Hog defines the flavor of the restaurant from their “love of cooking with live fire.”
The menu changes weekly and is posted by the walk-up counter on a simple chalkboard. Red Hog usually has around 12 items listed, ranging from charcuterie and cheese plates, sausage-based dishes, grilled meats, salads, sandwiches, soups, stews and whatever strikes as the best creation for the season. Sample menu items include house-made fries (cooked in beef fat) with curry sauce, a Damn Good Cuban sandwich, a sausage, pepperoni and tapenade pizza, a grilled escarole salad, a blue cheese and bacon burger, beef tartare and more. While the menu may sound familiar, what sets these dishes apart is Red Hog’s commitment to a hyper-local, seasonal product cooked by a highly trained team that almost always includes owner Bob Hancock behind the counter.
Red Hog’s restaurant also features classic and specialty cocktails that change seasonally. Delicious specialty cocktail examples include the Jolly Roger (rum-based with house-made pear-vanilla shrub, black walnut bitters and lemon twist) and The Wrong Turn (whiskey, cynar, bitters, ginger and grapefruit twist). The wine list is food-friendly, and their beer list includes familiar, adventurous and local varieties bottled, canned or on-tap. Red Hog makes plenty of non-alcoholic options in-house as well, like their own tonic, ginger ale, rosemary lemonade and grapefruit-thyme soda. Yum!
Seating is limited inside and definitely cozy. Expect to wait for a bit during peak hours and to share a table with other guests (who may become new friends). Seating gets a bit less challenging in the warmer months when the garage doors open to the inviting courtyard.
We’re thrilled that this well-designed, thoughtful artisan butcher shop and inviting restaurant is our new Crescent Hill neighborhood staple. Congratulations to Bob, Kit and the rest of their committed, skilled staff on creating a place that Louisville definitely needed. We can’t wait to pick up the perfect, ethically produced meat for our next barbecue or meet at the bar by the the wood fire.
Red Hog Artisan Butcher Shop + Restaurant is located at 2622 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206. Learn more at (502) 384-0795 or visit redhogartisanmeat.com.
All photographs courtesy of Red Hog
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