Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on August 24, 2023.
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Hemlock House opened in a prime location on S. Braddock Street in Swissvale (near Regent Square) in 2023 and serves up an array of modern pub fare with some flavor twists that you're unlikely to find anywhere else.
We visited this one with eager anticipation shortly after they opened and discovered this one is quite the gem.
Although we did not get to try the full bar menu just yet as the liquor license was still a work in progress, this pub is worth a visit for the food alone!
Note: At the time of our visit, Hemlock House had popups from local producers Kingfly Spirits and Arboretum Trail Brewing. So, while perhaps not their own bar program outright, you could still get a great drink with a meal all the same!
Modern Pub Fare With Plenty of Twists at Hemlock House
During our visit to Hemlock House, we noted that a good percentage of the menu incorporated Asian ingredients in traditionally non-Asian meals (think bonito flakes on top of hush puppies or uni in bucatini), so we crafted our spread to try dishes that featured these flavors.
On the snacks and small plates front, we started with an order of crab and bacon hushpuppies, beef tartare, and foie gras nigiri which was a limited special during our visit.
The hush puppies came with about nine generously sized bites in an order with a perfectly fried hush puppy that was rich and flavorful, and the toppings of bonito flakes and fish sauce brought Japanese inspired flavors that reminded us a bit of takoyaki on the outside- just with a rich hush puppy on the inside!
The beef tartare was another small plate that had Asian inspired elements as the beef was topped with a soy cured egg yolk, shoyu (soy sauce), miso, and more. While the meet was the star of the show here, the light soy and miso flavors were present and added a nice umami richness with subtle sweetness overall.
The foie gras nigiri was an interesting one for a limited run menu item and was all about the texture- delectably smooth foie gras served on top of rice was the picture of decadence all around.
Since we went heavy on the small plates and snacks, we decided to split just one entree, the unibucatini.
This one takes a classic bucatini and incorporates uni and sake into a cream sauce before being topped with stracciatella and roe for a tangy, sweet, and salty splash of flavor that was rather unexpected. For those who love interesting flavors with perfectly cooked pasta, this one is a gem.
For those who aren’t a fan of Asian flavors, don’t worry, the menu here has several other options including a bone-in ribeye with cold tarragon hollandaise, pork tenderloin with parsnip puree, mac n cheese with pork lardons and hard cider, kielbasa corn dogs, and many, many more- all elements we look forward to trying on a future visit.
Our only real regret from our first visit was that we got in before the restaurant had its full liquor license and bar program established, so we couldn’t quite see what the pub has in store for the cocktail side of the menu.
Thankfully, to fill the gap Kingfly Spirits and Arboretum Trail Brewing were hosting in-house popups featuring their cocktails (on separate billing) to serve up the drinks along with the food. While we had a few delicious drinks on their own right, particularly the Here's to the Admiral made with white and spiced rums, hot honey, coconut, yuzu, and pineapple, as these were from a possibly limited run popup it doesn’t feel quite right to include in this review outright- but oh was that cocktail immensely flavorful all the same.
Since we have to go back and get our hands on their delicious looking sandwiches and burgers (aptly named “handhelds”), particularly “The Jeremy” burger (who wouldn’t eat a burger with their name on it?), we will do so once the full bar program is up and running to see how the drink side of the menu stacks up.
If it is anything like the food, we’re expecting a real treat!
Hemlock House is located at 1126 S Braddock Avenue in Swissvale.