Allie’s Adventures in Eating: Bark Hot Dogs Five-Course Tasting Menu Featuring Nueske’s Smoked Meats and Sixpoint Craft Ales

In a recent Hidden Track article, I wrote about my uber love for Bark Hot Dogs. At the time, I promised I would write an entire piece dedicated to Bark in the near future. When our favorite locavore hot dot eatery announced they were hosting a $40 per person Five-Course Tasting Dinner Featuring Nueske’s Smoked Meats and Sixpoint Craft Ales, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to follow through on my promise.

Bark Hot Dogs

Bark Tasting Menu

After arriving promptly at the scheduled seating time, we were able to get seats near the kitchen, as it’s always fun to see what’s going on behind the scenes. Our primo seats allowed us to socialize with our friends from Sixpoint and Bark, and we spent most of the evening speaking with the Nueske’s rep–praising their succulent Applewood Smoked Bacon like groupies. Everyone was in great spirits. We were also blessed with the presence of Vera Tong, pastry chef from Buddakan, whose dessert ended up being one of our favorite menu selections.

After we received our first beer of the night, Signal Smoked India Pale Ale, our first course was the Applewood Smoked Duck Croquettes with Pickled Hot Peppers.

Bark Smoked Duck Croquettes

Chris & I equally enjoyed the beer, as neither of us had consumed a smoked IPA previously. This was a great way to get our palettes ready for a smoked meats dinner.

Croquettes can be hit or miss, depending on the filling and coating. The smoked duck filling was extremely flavorful, but the heat from the hot pickled pepper dipping sauce brought out the real flavor in the first course. The coating had a nice crunch to it as well. Unfortunately, the condiment cup was too small to dip the croquettes into, so I poured the sauce over them instead–a minor flaw which didn’t overshadow the food one bit.

Our second course was the Bacon-Cheddar Dog with Smokey Bacon, Grafton Cheddar Sauce and Pickled Red Onions–paired with a Bark Red Ale.

Bark Bacon Cheddar Dog

I was admittedly a little sad that we only received half a dog per person, as their hot dogs are incredibly tasty. The Grafton cheddar sauce had a sharpness which paired very well with the bacon–this was no ordinary cheese sauce! Chris isn’t a fan of red onions at all, but he enjoyed this dish so much he claimed he didn’t even notice the onions. The Bark Red Ale was a nice compliment as well.

After two delicious starters, everyone was salivating in anticipation of the first entree. I knew that the Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder with Crispy Egg, Whole Corn Grits, Dried Sweet Corn and Grafton Cheddar was going to be the star of the night.

Bark Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder

Oh.my.goodness. This bowl had layers and layers of flavors, which can only be bulleted:

  • Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder – the flavors were similar to baked beans. Sweet and smoky all at once.
  • Crispy Egg – every plate of food for the rest of time should have a deep fried, crispy egg on top of it. The coating on the egg was similar to the duck croquettes, which added a fun crunch.
  • White Corn Grits with Grafton Cheddar – I always prefer white corn over yellow corn, and the grits were perfectly creamy. Once again, Grafton kicked it up a notch.
  • Dried Sweet Corn – so good! Crunchy goodness within the grits.

The beer pairing turned out to be Mad Scientist #6, which was similar to a Strong Ale. I didn’t consume much of this–it wasn’t my favorite.

Our last savory course was Choucroute Garni, a dish which originated in the Alsace region of France. Bark’s version contained Hawthorne Valley Sauerkaut Braised with Apples, Bacon, Bratwurst and Weisswurst with Young Potatoes and Grainy Mustard.

Bark Choucroute Garni

This plate wasn’t very appealing to the eye, but the zing of the individual ingredients made me forget the lackluster presentation. The grainy mustard was the star of the show. I dipped some of the Nueske’s bratwurst, which tastes just like kielbasa, in about half of the mustard–my sinuses were en fuego! This was a great surprise, as I love the punch of a good mustard. I’m not a huge sauerkraut fan, but the apples and bacon helped to temper what is usually much too sour for me. The Weisswurst and potato probably would have wowed me a little more if I hadn’t killed my palette with the mustard, but it didn’t matter, as that mustard ruled the roost.

On another sour note, Sixpoint Crisp has an odd vinegar-esque flavor to it. I have no idea what they infuse that beer with, but it certainly paired well with sauerkraut.

After 4 variations on the smoked meat theme, it was time for Vera Tong’s dessert! My gut instinct told me her Almond Brioche Bread Pudding with Smoked Bacon Maple Sauce and Vanilla Rum Ice Cream would be the dark horse of the tasting menu. I love it when I’m right.

Vera Tong's Almond Brioche Bread Pudding

This bread pudding was absolutely divine. The smoked bacon maple syrup soaked right in, so each bite was more moist than the last–the syrup was very sweet too. Creamy, but not too sugary, the ice cream was a wonderful compliment to the syrup. The stroopwafel was great for dipping in the ice cream–this was one of those “kid in a candy store” dining moments where time just freezes–no pun intended. I’m not generally a stout fan, but I enjoyed the pairing of Diesel Stout here.

I’m sure it’s not hard to deduce that we were very smitten with this meal. They really hit this tasting menu out of the park, and continue to amaze me with their tireless dedication to using only the highest quality ingredients. Chris and I will go back time and time again for these dinners. Thank you, Bark, for being you.

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2 Responses

  1. Terri,

    It was great to meet you too! That was alot of fun. Hopefully we’ll see you around the neighborhood soon.

    Best,
    Allie

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