Hogshead adds new flavor to the Country Club Plaza

When visiting the Country Club Plaza, there used to be an expectation of elegance. After all, this is where some of the city’s most refined dining options resided for years before the Crossroads became the destination for independent dining. But that expectation is returning with the additions of new locally owned but world-class eateries and watering holes. Hogshead, one of the newest additions, is making its bid to be part of that new reputation.

Located in the space formerly occupied by California Pizza Kitchen at 4743 Pennsylvania Avenue, Hogshead is spearheaded by Executive Chef Clark Grant and Proprietor/President Shawn McClenny. Grant spent many years in the kitchen at The Capital Grille, both here and in Chicago, and is enjoying the opportunity to create a menu that he sees as highly sharable within the realm of creative American cuisine.

The restaurant opened in January and was immediately thrust into the trial-by-fire that is Kansas City Restaurant Week. After surviving that, they have been able to catch their breath and settle in, adjusting their menu and making changes as needed. The restaurant has already updated their menu from one that started as the same menu all day to a more sandwich and salad-focused lunch menu. Grant says that they will continue to tweak things, especially when it comes to seasonal ingredients.

Hogshead is first a virtual feast. Taking a severe left turn from the vivid yellow California Pizza Kitchen, the space is dark and warm with wood, slate and copper tones. Diners can choose to sit next to the vivid green living wall illuminated by Edison bulb lighting fixtures or watch the action happen at the copper chef’s counter facing the open kitchen. The vibe is casual but sexy, the perfect spot to stop for an after-work cocktail and nibble for the urban professional crowd.

Although the menu isn’t strictly tapas-style, it is intended to be sharable. Sides are all purchased separately and sized accordingly. Entrees such as the renowned cheeseburger may be tough to split amongst a large group, but I would be shocked if someone didn’t try to steal a bite as well. With nearly as many small plates as there are large plates, there’s plenty to choose from no matter what your appetite.

I started with a taste of sweet and savory. The sweet was Medjool dates stuffed with chorizo in a Calabrian chili-tomato sauce topped with soft goat cheese. These sweet and savory bites delivered a surprising punch of spice as well, with the chili-tomato sauce taking center stage. They would be a great snack paired with a cold IPA to take the edge off.

For my savory starter, I chose the meaty poutine. Poutine is ubiquitous these days, and why not? Who doesn’t love fries and gravy? Hogshead’s version also throws in a hearty helping of smoked pork cheek and a bit of Boulevard Tank 7 into the gravy for a Kansas City-twist. It’s a decent-sized helping, so find a friend for this dish.

I heard too much about the cheeseburger to pass up the opportunity to try it. To name the cheeseburger and not mention the thick slabs of bacon on it seems criminal, but it seems that understatement is more their style. The burger was perfectly pink in the middle with an oozing slice of cheddar cheese, an easy egg, and K.C. Canning’s hops pickles, all on a Farm to Market egg bun. It’s a messy burger, but worth the two napkins you may need to mop up the mélange of cheese, yoke, and juices.

The burger (as well as the open-faced Rueben) is sold by itself, so consult the sides menu for more options. One of the best dishes that I tried was the Butcher’s Cut Mac N’ Cheese. With a heaping helping of radiatori pasta covered in smoked cheddar cheese, tomato conserva and roasted jalapeño purée, this mac and cheese feels more like an entrée, especially when topped with smoked pork belly, pork butt, and pork cheek. It was a sophisticated take on comfort food.

For a more composed plate, the braised short ribs satisfied. The large hunk of tender short rib was lacquered with a red wine demi-glace and served on a mound of horseradish mashed potatoes. Charred onion soubise and pumpkin seed gremolata completed the plate. The soubise added a luxurious richness to an already decadent dish.

For dessert, the foie gras “Snickers” bar is a must-order. Foie gras in a dessert, you say? Yes. Grant wanted to incorporate foie gras into the menu somewhere, and in mousse form it makes a natural substitution for nougat. The interplay of flavors of caramel and peanuts with the mousse is a sneaky way to introduce a somewhat intimidating ingredient into dessert. The result was beautiful—chocolate, salt, and the smooth umami flavor are the perfect playmates.

Of course, no meal at Hogshead is complete without a cocktail or beer. In fact, the name Hogshead comes from the old-world term for a cask used to transport wines or spirits. Grant is collaborating with his bar staff to set the cocktail menu, which focuses on riffs on the classics. The Continuous Rum Negroni was a perfect pre-dinner cocktail. Made with Flor De Cana Gran Riserva Rum, Campari, and Carpano Antica, it replaces the herbal notes from the original Negroni and replaces it with the smooth caramel sweetness of aged rum. Also available are more than 20 draft beers, largely from local or regional breweries. Even more options are available in cans and bottles.

Hogshead is currently open seven days a week and offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Hogshead has the energy and vigor of the new kid on the block—they are sleek and sexy and know it. But underneath the enthusiasm, there just may be the bones to make them into a perennial favorite as well. Only time will tell.

Monday–Friday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.