Why? Hodge’s Cleveland!

Last night, a group of fabulous friends and I checked out the new restaurant in CLE getting all sorts of buzz: Hodge’s Cleveland.

Hodge’s is in the space formerly occupied by Zinc Bistro. Both the interior and the menu are huge upgrades! The interior of the restaurant is all wood and red leather: not in a stuffy-old-steakhouse way, but in a modern-fun-relaxed way. Joining me around the table were the lovely bloggers from Smitten…in Cleveland, Eat*Drink*Cleveland,Wearing Mascara, Clue Into Cleveland, and Cooker Girl.

While some of the girls enjoyed cocktails from the creative menu, I dove right into the craft beer list, enjoying an Avery White Rascal and a Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (in the bottle). Hodge’s beer list is extensive and inexpensive!

Next we were delighted by the two things every table at Hodge’s receives: tater tots and cornbread. Those two dishes just make you feel comfortable and welcome! The tater tots were quite tasty, served with a bit of cheese and bacon. And the corn bread…slightly sweet, perfectly moist, and served in a piping hot skillet…to die for!

We shared two appetizers: the “big dipper” and the Swedish meatballs. The meatballs were delicious, packed with flavor. I loved the blackberry and pepper sauce with the meatballs, giving them a great combination of spicy and sweet.

The “big dipper” is three corn dogs: duck, lamb, and lobster. While a very creative concept, the dish was hard to share and just lacking something for me. The duck and lamb corn dogs seemed to be lacking in spice, although that may be because we only tasted 1/6 of each. The lobster corn dog was by far my favorite, packed with lobster meat and served with a creamy tarragon aioli.

The menu listed asparagus soup, which I was dying to try. Our server told us that there was a change and the soup was now an English pea soup. Despite my deep love for asparagus, I ordered the soup. I am so glad I did!

How to describe the taste? Springtime in a bowl. The soup was frothy, not overly heavy, and so fresh. The peas did all the work here and the soup did not need a lot of fancy garnish and spices to make it completely delectable. I refrained from licking my bowl, but just barely.

Next up for me was the French onion ravioli. I was worried that this dish might be too heavy after all I had already eaten, but the ravioli was surprisingly light. The pasta itself was tender. The stuffing was a well-proportioned blend of gruyere and ricotta…kept in a nice balance, so that the dish wasn’t too heavy. The French onion reduction was so flavorful and the perfect compliment to the cheeses in the ravioli. I’m also glad for the bread to soak up all the extra saucy goodness.

The ravioli is a good example of what Hodge’s does so well. Chef Hodgson takes dishes that you know (corn dogs, ravioli, French onion soup) and turns them on their side. What you get is unexpected, interesting, and tasty.

What you also get at Hodge’s is a relaxed, fun dinner. You’d never guess it was the restaurant’s first week. We were there for nearly two and a half hours and never felt rushed. Our server, Jennifer, was fantastic!  She knew the menu, knew what to recommend, and was genuinely excited about the food, the chef, and the atmosphere.

Oh, and if you need more reasons to pop into Hodge’s, here are two:

1. On Opening Day, Thursday, April 5, Hodge’s patio will be open and the food trucks will be in the house. Food, beer, and Disco Inferno…who could ask for more?

2. On Tuesdays (although not available yesterday), Hodge’s will be offering a 2/$40 special. Two diners share 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, and 1 bottle of wine. That’s an incredible deal!

I can’t recommend Hodge’s highly enough. This isn’t Chef Hodgson’s food trucks brought indoors. This is new and amazing food, created and served by people who are clearly passionate about what they do. Check it out today!

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