June 21, 2014

Hanks Untraditional BBQ, Downtown Victoria

The only question I have about Hanks is what exactly is Untraditional about it. Only because I want to know the ethos behind the place, and apparently there used to be a short written page about Hanks' methods.  I am guessing the combination of flavours and a step away from 'just' smoky, sweet sauces on tender slow cooked meat.

The answers I have is that this place is delicious.  After a run with Andrea (who will be pleased to see her name written down in my blog after an absence of several weeks) we were discussing where to eat, that wasn't Be Love.  So of course, instead of the vegan, gluten free, sugar free place, we went for meat.  And beans.  And cornbread.  Oh, the cornbread.

Situated on Douglas, in a spot that seems to have housed a series of off-the-wall but failed eateries, it's a cosy place. One long bar over looking the counter and kitchen, in which (I assume) Hank was busy prepping meat for the next day.  We sat down at the bar, asked for the World Cup highlights and tried to work out the quotes about 'babies, you gotta be nice to each other' on the wall between the Pearl Jam posters. Kurt Vonnegut, if you don't know.  I didn't.

We eventually actually read the menu in it's glory.  Sandwiches of pulled beef, pork or chicken, or plates of pulled and spiced meats, served with sides.  Protein is great, but sides make the BBQ for me.  I went for the beef shoulder, cooked with hot peppers and onions.  I sided it with collard greens, baked pinto beans and cornbread.

The beef was tender and juicy and with a lovely hotness to it from the peppers.  There was that BBQ flavour underlying it, but amped up in a different direction.  The greens had some heat too, just enough to be noticable to me, without breaking into a sweat.  The beans were wholesome, earthy forkfuls of pulses.  Just not quite mush, but on the way there.  And the cornbread was crumbling into pieces, slighty sweet and very buttery.  Like a savoury cake, moist not dry.

Yum.  After finishing my plate, I noticed the chalk board full of specials.  Oh well.  I instead scrounged a bit of Andrea's pork and beans (belly pork on top of those house baked beans), which was a simply perfect mix of wholesome and gluttonous.  And the Mac'n'Cheese was cooked al dente, with some punch to the cheese.  No mounds of nuclear orange Kraft dinner.

At $15 for the plate, this was a great meal deal.  A ginger ale from Phillips rounded things of nicely for me.  As did the doggy bag of a second slice of cornbread.  I think Hank wanted to get rid of it before closing.  And I am assuming the pleasant, affable guy behind the counter was really the owner, and the owner is called Hank.  I don't imagine West Coast Canadian's being called Hank though.

I hope this place flourishes.  It'll get compared to 'pig', but whereas pig does down home BBQ in great mounds of meat, this is a step above into a more foodie-centric experience.

Hanks Untraditional BBQ on Urbanspoon

Edit : Thanks to Rayna from Quench Wines, I now know: a) The Untraditional bit is from the Asian influences to the food, and b) Hank is the owner Clark's dog.

Edit 2 : Hank's got back to me : We call our bbq untraditiomal because we use very different cuts of meat, fresh local vegetables and make everything from scratch including hot sauces, ketchup etc!  We don't really fall into any traditional bbq region!

All the mysteries are solved.