COOKIE and I agreed: BBQ is definitely beer food, although – quelle horreur – neither of us is a beer drinker. I guess that makes some kind of positive point about the food as well as the beer at Hickory Shack, now located in Simon’s Town with Charlie’s Garage Craft Brewery. ‘Tis a match made in heaven.
I have a long history with Hickory Shack and its owner Jay Haupt, stretching back to late nights and early mornings in city bowl bars, and to his first smokehouse in Elgin (say “Grabouw” if you can’t decide on a hard or soft “g” for Elgin). After that, the operation moved to Hout Bay, then Glencairn, so this is by no means Jay’s first rodeo, nor even his second. Do not dismiss the notion that some of us have multiple rodeos under our belts, and have perhaps even ridden the circuit.
After Glencairn, Jay started hanging out at Long Beach Brewery a lot, and some days he’d go in a rustle up some burgers. After getting to know Charlie [Murray] at Long Beach, a series of fortunate events which included the necessary licences and renovations led to them teaming up to open Hickory Shack and Charlie’s Garage Craft Brewery on the main road – St George’s Street – in Simon’s Town. Charlie brews some of his beers on-site, and Jay and his guys sling the meat on the fire.
Meat. Such a simplistic description for what’s on the menu. You can go all out, or have a lighter meal like a sandwich or dog – sorry, dawg, and on Tacos Tuesdays it’s four tacos and a beer for R150. Very popular, says Jay. “Tacos are probably the most popular thing on the menu.” We tried the pulled pork (heavenly) and the brisket. You might be surprised to learn there are in fact vegetarian options here, so black beans for them. Jay says he’s working on some vegan things too.
The main dishes include brisket, pulled pork (both already sampled), ribs – pork and/or beef, half a chicken, and Texas links. They all include fries and slaw. Jay put together a platter for us to try all this except the chicken. Why didn’t we have the chicken? I can’t remember if there was a valid reason or not. Anyway. Both types of ribs slid off their bones, but man, those sausages. There’s a hint of jalapeño in there, and oozy cheesy goodness. I had to get some more to take home, plus two sides of meaty beans: baked beans like you’d expect but run through with chunks of brisket, some fattier than others and the real prize (for breakfast, on sourdough, topped with soft fried eggs, winner). So yes, takeaways are available.
Everything is cooked over flame and coals, even the cheesecake, but it does not contain a whiff of smoke; it’s delicious. I’m mildly devastated that I didn’t get to the carnitas – tacos with meat and cheese, folded and fried in beef tallow, goshdangit. And that once more I’ve found food I love that is a nearly 40-minute drive away.
Six of Charlie’s beers are available for tasting – choose four or all of them, the same or different, they don’t mind, just drink the beer. When you’re ready to commit, you can have 340ml or 500ml of your favourite. I’m by no means a beer connoisseur and can’t tell an IPA from a Pilsner (*hides*), but I do love the names they give to craft beers. Gatling Nun. Bombshell (Blonde). Jam Session. If you absolutely can’t, there is wine if you know how to ask for it…
Oh, and there are glasses on the tables and bar counter with 30 Seconds cards in them – such a fun thing to do while you’re drinking and waiting for your sausages, and it’s super cool to find out you’re on the same wavelength (crazy mind) as your friend, and you get each other’s weird clues.
Hickory Shack is open Tuesdays to Saturdays 12pm to 8pm (last orders), Sundays 12pm to 6pm. Call Jay on 073 678 0855 for more information, and follow on Instagram.