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.
One 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.