The competition for new restaurants in Cleveland is tough. Over the last few months, a pile of really fine places have opened. Perhaps best of all is Spice Kitchen and Bar on Detroit Avenue in the Gordon Square Arts District. Absolutely respectable openings are Cowell & Hubbard, finally offering good food in the Playhouse Square district and SOHO, Market Garden Brewery and Orale! Contemporary Mexican Cuisine adding to the already overflowing wealth of food on West 25th. In addition, Noodlecat has grown the reach of Chef Jonathan Sawyer and Crop has successfully moved to a new and even more popular location near the Westside Market, while Club Isabella in Little Italy has been totally reinvented into a stellar dining room. In this environment, the opening of an OK place is going to quickly be trampled. That is our fear with Hodge’s.
There was a lot of good here. Jeff loved the leek and goat cheese tart appetizer. The inside was rich and creamy; the crust itself was crunchy and flavorful. The onion jam was a nice tangy-sweet counterpoint. The amuse bouche was a fun container of tatter-tots with a delightful sour cream dipping sauce and bacon accents. Jeff ordered the duck entrée and the Brussels Sprouts were perfectly grilled, the barley risotto was nutty and flavorful, especially when mixed with the accompanying golden raisins and onion, all set upon a puddle of thyme butter sauce. These things would have easily encouraged a second visit.
On the opposite side however, Michele found the Market Salad only acceptable. The greens were fresh, but the crouton too large to actually eat in one bite and too hard to cut, witnessed by the fact that half spent the remainder of our evening under the table after a failed attempt at splitting. She also felt the salmon only passable and was a bit taken aback by the rich veal reduction sauce accompanying the light fish. While he enjoyed everything else, Jeff was very disappointed by the actual duck breast in his entrée. He found it tough and almost completely without flavor, a real disappointment, especially with such nicely done sides. The Brownie dessert was good, made better with the addition of Mitchell’s rich ice cream.
If this were the only new restaurant opening in a few months, it might be worth a try. If parking in the inhospitable Euclid Avenue area weren’t such an issue, it might be worth a try. If prices weren’t a good 20-25% higher than Spice, SOHO and Market Garden Brewery, it might be worth a try. None of that is the case and there is little compelling reason to visit. Worry not, as mentioned earlier, Cleveland has many excellent new options ready to please.
http://hodgescleveland.com/668 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44114 216-771-4000
Entry filed under: Cleveland Food Comments, Cleveland Restaurants Review. Tags: Hodge's Cleveland, Hodge's Euclid Avenue, Hodge's Restaurant Cleveland, Market Garden Brewery Cleveland, Orale Restaurant Cleveland, SOHO Cleveland, Spice Kitchen & Bar Celveland.