Friday, October 05, 2012

Cafe Hon, Revisited.

I admit that I'm probably the last food blogger in Baltimore that has not yet seen Gordon Ramsay's epic visit to Cafe Hon - or read about his recent return.  But color me one of the teeming Charm City masses that did give up on the place a while back.  Yes, I admit it was the whole trademark thing and other small business controversies that ultimately did it.  And of course, there were problems with the food.  But with Whiting dealing head on with her Kitchen Nightmares, I thought it was finally time to check out Cafe Hon again, to see what has changed.  And so I did last weekend (Yes, it took this long to write about it.  I have a day job, y'all).

It is more cheerful than it used to be, and not in the annoying "Hey, hon? Hal y'all doin' hon? Hal baot dem O's hon?kind of way.  Elvis is still there, of course, as well he should be.  A private party was in the bar area and at first it looked like there weren't many patrons in the main section.  But more than a few were tucked into the booths, a good sign for an early weekend night.  I was seated quickly and - thankfully - did not encounter any obnoxious beehive hairdos (revoke my Bawlmer citizenship card, alright?  Everything in moderation, even beehives).

Glancing at the new menu, I noticed a lot of the old standards, including the crab cakes, the meatloaves, the burgers and so on.  This time however I aimed for the specials menu, whose tuna caprese sandwich caught my eye: for about $11, I don't exactly recall, you get two pieces of tuna - small enough for both to fit side by side in the sandwich - covered with mozzarella and sitting on top of chopped olives, on a bun.  The sandwich is served with potato chips on the side (Utz?).

I didn't wait too long for it while sipping on my beer.  My first reaction to the sandwich: it looks good.  Then I tried to pick it up, and the sandwich easily fell apart.  The physics of the sandwich just made it difficult to hold, I guess.  This was a minor annoyance, but I put it back together and held the bun more tightly around the tuna.  It was pleasantly salty - again, the olives - and the tuna was not dry at all.  It was a sandwich I easily could plow through, but I did take it slowly.  I'm glad I did because I bit down almost full force into an olive pit!  No broken teeth, but this I was not expecting.  It does suggest that they're not getting their olives from a can, but using the good ones.  Still, ouchie.

I figured at the end of the meal the only problems with the sandwich were not flavor or texture related but purely logistical, which isn't a bad thing.  Perhaps the tuna caprese would work better as a wrap?  It certainly wouldn't fall apart.  The only other suggestion: let people know there might be olive pits in the sandwich.  Maybe they did offer such a warning and I missed it, but if not there should be one.  But I will note that it was, overall, a good sandwich.

I did order a slice of mile-high devil's food cake after.  I could not finish it, but I did enjoy eating the rest of it the next day.

In all though, I think Ramsay's visit to the House of Whiting worked well.  Would I go back to Cafe Hon, hons?  Well yes, I would go back.  But I'd eat anything with olives a little more carefully.  Advice for any olive dish anywhere, really.  Maybe I'll tiptoe back to the meatloaf next time.


Anonymous said...

Hampden has changed a lot over the last 12 months as far as food goes. I suggest that if you are back, skip the Hon and try Luigi's Italian deli, The Veranda, Baltimore Burger Bar, Alchemy, Spro, and if your around for diner, the Hampden Food Market. Gotta get the SCOOCH the deli!