Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hodges- A Dream Come True

Chris Hodgson is a local celebrity thanks to his very entertaining run on The Great Food Truck Race
As he was bringing food trucks to Cleveland, he was dreaming of one day opening his own brick and mortar restaurant. Last week, his dream came true.  The much anticipated Hodge's Cleveland opened in the former Zinc on Euclid Ave. Now he starts a new adventure with partner Scott Kuhn of Washington Place Bistro.


Immediately, Hodge's was garnering praise from diners hungry to enjoy Hodgson's food in a restaurant setting. The website describes the food as "modernized takes on global comfort food with a handful of favorites from the popular food trucks Hodge Podge and Dim and Den Sum." My food loving blogger friends and I wasted no time to getting to Hodge's to see for ourselves what Chef Hodson was cooking up in a full-sized kitchen. 


We all loved the simple decor of wood and red leather. And we were all smiles as we chatted and made the difficult decision about what to order. Don't you love it when so many things sound good on a menu that you really struggle to choose?


Kimberly, Jen and Sarah
First came the amuse bouche - tator tots! Crispy and cheesy with just a hint of bacon they were a great way to start our meal.
Next up was the item I most looking forward to - our very own skillet of corn bread! I had been hearing about this since the friend and family opening and couldn't wait to try it. To say I'm a corn bread lover is a major understatement. This little skillet of golden goodness did not disappoint! Moist and hot out of the oven, I could have eaten the whole pan. 
 The ladies decided to share a couple of apps:
“swedish” meatballs — au poivre, blackberry jam, parsley  7.5

big dipper — duck, lobster &lamb corn dogs; smoked apple + red pepper jam, tarragon aioli, banana ketchup  12
I loved the meatballs. They were tender and flavorful. The jam added just the  right sweetness to the creamy sauce. I only wish I had some bread to sop it all up with. The corn dogs looked awesome - such a fun presentation! - but were not as tasty as I hoped for. I think we all agreed that the lobster was the best of the bunch.


I decided to order snacks and apps as my entree because so many of them sounded great! I started off with spring pea soup. It was listed on the menu as asparagus but I was thrilled with the switch! It was so fresh and creamy. Loved the pea tendrils as garnish - so yummy! If you go while this is in season, you must try this bright colored taste of spring in a bowl.
 I couldn't resist trying the honey ribs. They weren't very meaty but they sure packed a lot of flavor! I loved the slight smokiness that wasn't overwhelming. And the slaw was incredible! The honey mustard thyme dressed red cabbage also contained a tasty surprise - golden raisins. Sooo good!

hodges honey ribs — house-smoked, sherry slaw, thyme, honey mustard  8.5
Instead of a salad I opted for the pickle jar. It was a mixture of fennel, baby turnips, onions, green and yellow beans and radishes. Though it was very pretty to look at, I was disappointed because it was just too vinegary. I hold all pickled veggies up to the very high standard of Tsukemono Pickle Sampler perfection at Noodlecat so I'm a little spoiled. The best of the bunch were the turnips.
pickle jar — house-made pickles  4
I rounded out my meal with the carpaccio. It was wafer thin and nicely marbled wagyu beefy goodness. More pea tendrils, a drizzle of delicious EVOO and horseradish cream complimented the beef. I love a little crunch with my carpaccio and asked for bread. I was very happy to receive 2 nice slices of toasted bread dressed with olive oil - perfect!
beef carpaccio — wagyu, pea tendrils, horseradish crème fraiche  5
Everyone else was happy with their choices as well. Sarah ordered the hangar steak that I almost ordered and sweetly shared a bite. LOVED the salsa verde! The steak was not hot, but was very tasty. This is what I'm going to order next time.
c.a.b hanger steak — tomato creamed heirloom beans, potato shards, salsa verde  23.5
Julie and Kimberly both order the other entree I was contemplating - the unfried chicken. The sides of asparagus and mac & cheese sounded really good. As I'm writing this I realize I forgot to snag a bite of that chicken.
‘‘unfried chicken’’ — ohio organic chicken, mac and cheese, spiced asparagus, rosemary jus  18.5
Since Amanda was at the other end of the table, I didn't get pics of her sweetbread sliders, cumin roasted carrots or lobster whipped potatoes. Jen ordered the french onion ravioli and they were gone in a flash. She shared a bite and I know why they disappeared so easily - the broth was superb and the ricotta and gruyere ravioli weren't too creamy. She also got a nice toasted slice of bread in her bowl to soak up every last drop of the luscious broth.

It was a great night! I'm looking forward to returning when the weather is warmer because the patio is outstanding. They are having an Opening Day Patio Bash on 4/5 featuring Disco Inferno and the food trucks -don't miss it!

The restaurant will be offering a super sweet deal in the near future: dinner for 2 for $40 including an app to share and a bottle of wine! We were hoping to take advantage of that last night but found it wasn't being offered just yet.  
Julie, Amanda, me, Kimberly, Jen and Sarah
We love Hodges!
A private dining room off of the kitchen will be home to a chef’s whim dinner called The Hodge Podge. This 5-7 course, private meal will feature fresh daily offerings from Chef Hodgson and Sous Chef Adam Bostwick. The Hodge Podge will be available by reservation only for groups of 6-12 and must be booked 48 hours in advance.


Normally I hold off visiting a new restaurant until they have some time to work out the kinks. I'm so glad I didn't waste anytime going to Hodge's. While it was just their first full week of being open to the public, you would never have known it - everything was great! Our server was sweet and knowledgeable, the food rocked and the space was so inviting. 


Check it out - you'll be happy you did!










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