Eating at Hammerheads is about as relaxing as fighting real hammerheads for a rack of ribs. Hammerheads, located on Swan Street, has a reputation for their smoked meats and crowded space. Upon arrival I was heralded by a large Hammerhead shark suspended over the door of a small basement restaurant. The bar/dining area was crammed with people jostling to get past one another, and we finally sat ourselves outside in the chill Autumn air, feasting our nostrils, if not our bellies, on the tantalizing scent of smoking meat.
Our waiter was very curt, and informed us that the kitchen would not be taking any orders for at least twenty minutes because of the volume of people in the restaurant. While I appreciate honesty from a server, I did not appreciate the drumming of his fingers or his brusque manner as we ordered.
After another twenty minute wait, the appetizer arrived about thirty seconds before our entrees. This error does not detract from the fact that the crisp mushroom medley was a delight, earthy and well seasoned. The medley came with a gorgeous sun dried tomato aioli that complemented the crispy shitake pieces with tangy moisture.
Our entrees were beautifully presented on planks of wood. The duck sandwich was disappointing; the meat lacked that succulent quality duck ought to have, and the smoky flavor was barely discernable. The rack of ribs was much better, cooked with spicy dry rub and falling off the bone. The house made barbecue sauce was a welcome tart addition.
After our meal, we made the trip inside to sample some ale, and despite the cramped atmosphere, the beer was good. The entire experience was affordable and passably tasty, if a little too crabby in the service department. Not to be snarky (or sharky) but if I visit again, I hope to avoid the feeding frenzy.
Photo: Elizabeth Orrick