In the afternoon, with a nice cup of tea, there’s nothing Cat likes better than a fig roll. Matt, by contrast can take them or leave them. In fact he usually leaves them. Which is why Cat was amazed to hear him say recently that he’d spent £4.75 on a massive fig roll for his lunch. A massive fig roll? Really? That piqued her interest.
As it turned out, it was something even better than a fig roll. Matt had been visiting Hogs Street Food, the widely-recommended food wagon on the Dodnor industrial estate. And whilst there, inevitably he bought not a fig roll but a pig roll, the Hogs Street signature dish.
Street food has been overtaken by hipsters and wannabe-hipsters and is now, anomalously, served in restaurants on slates accompanied by jam-jar cocktails. But true street food is not dead. Far from it. The industrial estate burger wagon is perhaps the last, if not the only, representative of genuine British street food, where it is still bought and eaten in the street by hungry workers. Cheaply priced, quickly produced and essentially ephemeral in nature, it can still range in quality from the appalling to the exquisite. Matt and Cat – well, mostly Matt, to be honest – have always made it their business to seek out burger vans on the Isle of Wight alongside the more conventional restaurants and cafes. And in the case of Hogs Street, this was a quest worth embarking upon.
Even those who work there have been known to get lost on Dodnor estate, so you’ll probably need a native guide to find Hogs Street Food. If you manage to locate the little grassy field between Vectawarm and Island Roads HQ you’ll probably see the smartly kitted-out Hogs Street Food van. Matt pulled up nearby on the way from a meeting, and managed to get one of the last pig rolls before the shutters went up at 3pm. He took it back to the car and tucked in, like a proper worker. And his verdict? Delightful. This roll was sensational – huge chunks of fresh crackling and lashings of sweet apple sauce were the overture to a deep seam of steaming roast pork: warm moist and herby, it was the perfect lunchtime filler. Even the roll it was in was a cut above the average. Big and crusty, it was still strong enough to support its meaty burden without collapsing, and it was tasty with it.
Pig roll £4.75
So if you think that you have to go to Shoreditch to experience real street food, think again. You just need to get down to Newport’s industrial estate. Hogs Street Food has plenty more on offer – bacon rolls, sausage rolls, veggie burgers and even a steak burger. Matt was convinced – this was worth the trip, and next time he’d bring Cat, who might be tempted by the Hogs Street piri piri chicken wrap. Without figs.
A version of this review was originally published in the Isle of Wight County Press.