Sequestered downtown on East 5th Street between deep red brick walls is Hodge’s. Building on the playfulness and success of head chef Chris Hodgson’s popular Hodgepodge food truck, which placed second in the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” a couple seasons back, Hodge’s offers an approachable yet modern take on comfort food.
The lunch menu at Hodge’s boasts an impressive listing of appetizers, somewhat of a novelty for a meal that is often seen as just another way to break up the monotony of the workday. The deviled eggs, however, are enough to make even the most motivated among us forget about work for a while. These eggs mean business. Just like your grandma, Hodge’s understands that the mountain of mustardy filling in the egg’s center is the most important feature. Served on a wooden tray and topped with chives and bacon, this deliciously hearty starter disappears too quickly. Be sure not to miss the extra filling that holds the eggs in place below; it’s hiding a good portion of the bacon.
Following the deviled eggs is braised beef atop pommes purée (a fancy name for mashed potatoes) with blanched green beans. The most appetizing feature of this entrée is the mouth-watering way the meat falls apart immediately, even at the slightest touch of the fork. The pommes purée provides a creamy complement, accented nicely by smoky bits of bacon, cubed potato pieces and a rich red wine demi-glace that runs throughout the dish. The green beans, in turn, liven up the burly beef and fight the velvety texture of the potatoes in a harmonious way. Together, these three elements form a beautifully composed plate, full of simple and savory flavors.
The bill comes in a cheeky, slightly misleading red envelope dubbed “The Damage.” Perhaps the most impressive feature of a lunch at Hodge’s is its relatively low cost; the aforementioned meal can be purchased for $16, before tip and taxes.
Those interning or working downtown this summer need look no further than Hodge’s for a gourmet lunch option that won’t break the bank. Few Cleveland restaurants provide as excellent an opportunity to bask in the all too infrequent Cleveland sunshine on an expansive patio for an hour before returning to the office.