Lord Hobo Tonight: Your Current Favs?
5:30 arrival after acupuncture; full bar but only 2 other tables taken, so service was prompt. Felt quite happy as the Stones and Black Keys set the tone. Food was terrific. Wow, does that feel great to say( It's been awhile.)
A number of CHs had lauded this place, so we were expecting the food to be good, but i had no idea the presentation would be so attractive; Chef Nick's artistry could easily that found at the higher priced white tablecloth crowd. Duck confit and potato croquettes were hefty timbales; creamy and with plenty of duck, sitting on a sweet aioli in a full nest of micro greens and roasted sunflower seeds. And what was that treasure hiding under the greens? A big crunchy toothsome square of fried duck skin! I was swooning.
Astoria salad was a large rectangular plate bookended by 2 generous mounds of mesclun, well dressed and perfectly mingled with tiny bits of blue cheese, surrounding an entire spice roasted and sliced pear arranged in an Escher tower. FINally, a chef who treats blue cheese as it should be in a salad- bits of brightness instead of overwhelming chunks. Salads like this make it hard for me to order them in higher end places where I have always felt just plain resentful of the absurd mark ups on whisper weights of product.
We both had the very flavorful pork shank (all too rarely seen lately) in a pimenton tomato jalapeno broth w/ white beans, cherrystone clams and chorizo. We did ask for more of that luscious broth, and it made for a very hearty robustly flavored entrée. The fries were stellar; thin cut and perfectly fried, topped w/shaved parmesan and served with a truffle aioli. The coup de grace was that aioli- made with honest to goodness truffles, not just a whiff of truffle oil. Wow, truffles in a gastro pub that exists to sell beer!
From what we were told, Chef Nick (formerly of Cambr Brewing Co and Upstairs on the Square) is the 6th chef to be there since it opened, and he is finally getting the place in order and the food up to the level targeted by the owner. But it is rather an anomaly, this excellent food; because the room itself is waaay ugly: brown on brown on brown, and 'casually unattractive/shoddy' might well describe the servers, who range from mildly nice to sour. It will be interesting to see if these other elements are ever improved to provide an appropriate setting for the food. Meanwhile, a new menu is coming in a few weeks, so hurry on over to Lord Hobo before that pork shank get switched out!
The polenta fries are really good(As are the potatoe fries). Creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. And the roasted garlic aioli isn't overwhelming. I would avoid the chicken and waffles. Although the chicken is nicely fried, it is overly sweet and the waffle is 3 (?) mini eggo like waffles.
Their beer list is extensive, but they are more than happy to give samples. Cocktails are tasty as well.
Can get really crowded. There are a couple tall communal tables (10 ppl?), a u shaped bar, a couple larger tables long the walls (beware of the short stools that are hard to see in the low light and easy to trip over), and a few smaller tables. I prefer to sit at the bar unless I am with a group.
I had the gnocchi a few months ago. They were dense and tough: pass on them.
I like hoppy beers, and I don't like paying $9/12oz for a beer's cruise from Belgium. I'd put the following on my short list: Pretty Things 1855, Jack's Abby Hoponius Union, Stone IPA, FW Union Jack, maybe Leatherlips. Lots of other good beers on the list, assuming it's up to date.
If its busy, make sure to ask for a rinsed glass. The beers I was served last week were atrocious - smelled like whatever detergent they used in the dishwasher - and this isn't the first time this has happened here either, but I usually don't have an issue when its slower. With all the supposed knowledge they have, they should know better. Besides that the UJ IPA and Hoponius were just ok - they both didn't seem all that fresh.