Hodge’s, On Euclid

During several of my recent visits to Cleveland I’ve eaten dinner at Hodge’s restaurant on Euclid Avenue.  It’s quickly moved up to become one of my favorite restaurants in a city that offers a lot of excellent dining options.

IMG_2948One of the proprietors started out as a food truck operator, and Hodge’s offers the same kind of somewhat zany, try-just-about-anything food truck spirit in a brick-and-mortar restaurant setting.  The menu changes regularly, and the options are always inventive and intriguing.  It’s the kind of place that Cleveland foodies must love to have as a regular dining option.

When I was there earlier this week (before my Meatless Thursday) we enjoyed some well-made cocktails in Hodge’s spacious, modern bar area.  We then moved upstairs and sampled an eclectic mix of “snacks,” appetizers and entrees, washed down by a fine and affordable bottle of wine.  We began with “snacks” of deviled eggs, which were quite tasty, and spectacular “chicken liver toast” — two thick pieces of toast layered about an inch deep with densely packed, coarsely chopped chicken liver.  Next up were appetizers, in the form of wild mushroom and Ohio City pasta gnocchi, which was light and delicately flavored, and the bold and mouth-watering lucky penny goat cheese and leek tart, topped with onion jam, arugula, and parmesan.

By then we were on a mission to try as much of the menu as possible, and we would not be denied.  We split two entrees — the pan roasted scallops with butternut squash risotto and currants, and the house brined pork chop — and both were excellent.  My favorite was the huge, juicy, perfectly prepared pork chop.  Unembarrassed, we ventured into the dessert menu, and my friend wolfed down the massive brownie skillet sundae while I daintily sampled a delicate fruit crisp.

After an appalling display of our ravenousness, we hauled our carcasses off our seats and reeled out into the icy Cleveland night, thoroughly satisfied by an exceptional meal.  Yes, I’d recommend Hodge’s to anyone who likes to pick up knife and fork.

A Taste For Steak

Last night I went to dinner with friends and was delighted to find that my host had selected a steakhouse for our meal. On some occasions, after a hard day’s work, only steak will truly satisfy the taste buds.

We went to a restaurant called XO, in Cleveland’s warehouse district.  XO offers only prime cuts of steak, as well as the other food items you come to expect from steakhouses, like seafood, soups, a la carte side dishes that are big enough to share, a good wine list, and the obligatory breast of chicken.  (Does anyone really ever order breast of chicken at a steakhouse?  If so, why?)

The only thing that was unusual about the place was the music selection.  It was distinctly on the new age side, where most steakhouses go for the vintage Frank Sinatra/Tony Bennett/big band background music soundtrack.  XO’s dreamy tune choices made me feel like I’d be given a massage and a glass of herbal tea after the meal.

Who really cares about music, though, when you are getting ready to tear into a thick, juicy, well-prepared steak washed down with a fine dry red wine?  We had a seafood platter appetizer, which featured excellent oysters, king crab legs, huge tiger prawns, and a lobster salad.  For my meal I ordered the bone-in ribeye steak, cooked medium rare.  It was succulent, and I gleefully sliced it up and gobbled up every bite. The meal was brought to an appropriate close with some apple cobbler.

When we departed after a very enjoyable evening, I pointed my well-nourished gut in the direction of our destination and left a happy man.