We were invited by Scott Kuhn and Chris Hodgson to a preview dinner at their new restaurant Hodges. Sarah is not a fan of crowds, so I took my friend Matt.

The space is large but inviting, with a deep red motif. The noise level was low, making conversation easy. Then again, the place was less than half full.

We started with the tater tots, which are served with every meal the way chips and salsa is at most Mexican restaurants. They were dusted in bacon and served with a sour cream dipping sauce, making for a perfect combination of tot and baked potato. They went down really easy.

The next course is also complimentary with every meal, a cast iron of corn bread. It was moist and tasty with some really good bourbon butter on the side. Matt was not happy with how hot it was, but I didn’t mind so much as it cooled down fairly quickly (3−4 minutes) after being cut.

We were then given the tuna poppers, rice cakes topped with ahi tuna and ponzu, a citrus sauce. Matt, who doesn’t like “anything from the sea” even enjoyed these because the tuna was so mild and citrusy.

Next came the “Pork and Beans,” a slab of lightly cooked bacon atop pressure-cooked pine nuts in a ketchupy barbecue sauce with cabbage. All the flavors were excellent, and the pine nuts were far tastier than any variety of bean. They also still had some bite to them.

After this was the c.a.b. (certified angus beef) hanger steak. The steak was perfectly cooked and tender with a nice, complex kick from the chimichurri-like salsa verde. The tomato beans were really good (the tomato flavor was really mild), but I thought the potato shards–deep fried mashed potatoes–could have used a tad more seasoning, This was an outstanding dish overall, though.

Our second main course was the scallop with “peas and carrots.” The scallop was nicely seared, but I was not a fan of the dish overall. The flavors didn’t strike me as nearly as interesting as the other dishes.

For dessert we were all given the “fried apple pie,” which was apparently inspired by Chris’s drinking too much and going to McDonald’s the next morning. It’s a single large apple slice coated in pastry and then drenched in crunchy cinnamon sugar with a caramel bourbon sauce on the side. It was really tasty.

The beer menu at Hodge’s is quite good–plenty of local and Belgian options–although the draft list is a bit small. I had a bottle of Fin Du Monde and Matt had a bottle of Hennepin.

We were also given cocktail samples. They had something with Crème de Casis which I didn’t like much, but there was another with ginger, lemon and Elderflower that was quite good. After our beers we tried Beehives ($10), mason jars filled with Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, honey, elderflower liquor and ginger. It was very good but also extremely potent. It took us awhile to get through them. They reminded me of this bee-themed song.

The service was good, and Chef de Cuisine Adam Bostwick (formerly of Mélange) came out after our meal to ask for comments and constructive criticism.

We very much look forward to a return visit.

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