Take an early tour of Chris Hodgson's new restaurant

Dim and Then Sum 

Take an early tour of Chris Hodgson's new restaurant

Hodge's doesn't officially open till March 29, but Scene got an exclusive sneak peek this week at the menu and the interior. Located in the former downtown home of Zinc Bistro, the restaurant is owned by Scott Kuhn (Washington Place Bistro, Welshfield Inn) and food-truck whiz Chris Hodgson.

Numerous physical changes have livened up the space. In the main bar area, booths were ripped out in favor of high tops, giving diners an unobstructed view of the kitchen pass-through. In a rear dining room, standard tables and chairs were swapped for more comfortable banquettes.

"We really want to create energy up front," says Hodgson, adding that each bar table will have its own iPhone charger.

In addition to bright-red leather armchairs and banquettes, the primary design elements lean toward wood and steel. Rough-hewn timber, stainless and galvanized steel, and industrial-style lighting give the space a modern but casual feel. There will be seating for about 140 inside and another 120 out in the spacious brick-paved courtyard.

While Hodgson is chef-owner, Adam Bostwick will be executive chef. He most recently served as co-executive chef of Beachwood's now-shuttered Mélange. Hodgson describes the menu as "global comfort food," with some crossover from his food-truck stylings.

"There will be some similarities," he says, "like the playfulness, and borrowing from other countries and mixing it in."

A small corner of the bar — a spot once used by Zinc for a raw bar — will feature a butcher-block station where a chef will dish up little snacks. Priced between $1 and $4, the offerings will include housemade pickles, Korean-spiced peanuts, chicken liver toasts, and whipped lard on toast with honey.

Hodgson, a former staffer at New York's famed Spotted Pig, will be importing one of that restaurant's most popular items: gnudi. Like gnocchi, but made from only whipped ricotta and parmesan cheese (no flour), the dumplings are at once light and deeply rich. Here they will be served in a lemon-and-parsley sauce garnished with crisp artichokes.

Also on the starter menu is a goat cheese and leek tart, and something called the Big Dipper, one of Hodgson's personal favorites. At the heart of the dish is a duck, lobster, and lamb sausage, served on a stick like a corndog. It comes with red-pepper jam, tarragon aioli, and banana ketchup.

Among the mains is French onion ravioli, a pasta version of the classic soup. The pasta is stuffed with ricotta and gruyère, served in a beef soup reduction, and topped with a gruyère crouton. "French onion soup is my girlfriend's [Jacquelyn Romanin] favorite soup," Hodgson notes. Other entrées include duck breast with black barley risotto, seared scallops in a smashed-pea cream sauce, and an aged Certified Angus Beef rib-eye with creamed spinach and whipped lard.

Prices fall in the $8 to $11 range for starters and $23 to $26 for mains.

"The amount of talent we have working in this kitchen is ridiculous," says Hodgson.

Find them at 669 Euclid Ave. Learn more at hodgescleveland.com.

BURGER BRAWL: Is there room enough for two burger joints at Summit Mall? Absolutely, says Ray Benne, who will open the Ohio Burger Company on April 1 in the mall's food court. Benne previously owned Cyber Pete's Internet Café in Bedford.

"The Rail is not really in the mall," Benne says of that other burger spot. "It's a sit-down, high-end destination place. We're inside the mall proper — and the mall is booming."

Benne's burgers will be made of 100 percent Ohio beef, most raised within 30 miles of Akron. Single, double, or triple burgers will be featured, with patties weighing in at a quarter-pound. Prices range from $4.59 for a single to $8.99 for a triple bacon cheeseburger. There will also be hot dogs, fresh-cut fries, and onion rings. Learn more at ohioburgercompany.com.

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