Eat The Menu: Hodges Bend

Sitting at the bar at Hodges Bend makes you feel like you’re at a glorious library of cocktails and coffee.

There’s a little taste of Tulsa just off the Green Line along University Avenue in St. Paul, and it’s a veritable choose-your-own-adventure of thoughtful food and drink. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back happy hour with clever craft cocktails or a single cup of high-end coffee to sip over a good book, you’re in luck. Hodges Bend offers up an array of eating and drinking possibilities.

Nestled at the foot of a new apartment complex in an ever-expanding transit corridor just east of Prospect Park, Hodges Bend comes courtesy of eclectic Oklahoma business guy Chip Gaberino. Through a series of fortunate events (that is, fortunate for us), Gaberino was convinced to bring his restaurant, bar and coffee concept to Minnesota.

Even luckier for me, this fortuitous new find is just across the street from my day job. A few weeks back, I stopped by after work with a couple friends to give Hodges Bend a happy hour test drive.

The cocktails may be craft and the coffee more complicated than your average cup, but the first feeling you’re struck with when walking through the door is relaxed. Ever wary of pretense, I’m happy to report a complete lack of high-horsed hipsters; just an affable, talented staff eager to share their creativity and passion for food and drink.

Hodges Bend boasts a fancy yet utterly relaxing ambiance and atmosphere.

There’s quite literally something for everyone (and every mood) on the cocktail menu at Hodges. The menu is broken up into an assortment of signature Hodges cocktails and deep track classic cocktails, as well. Crowd favorites included Hodges’ own Dutch Lover, a frisky mix of genever and amaro with the punch of pomegranate, lime and cardamom. On the classic side of things, the Saturn and Yokohama put smiles on faces.

Hodges Bend’s gin-and-passion-fruit-infused Saturn cocktail is out of this world.

As a mocktail enthusiast myself, I was beyond pleased to see an assortment of non-alcoholic options. Pay special attention to the signature coffee mocktails. At Hodges, coffee is king and you’re not likely to see caffeinated combinations like this anywhere else in the Twin Cities. My personal favorite was the Coffee Rose, a puzzlingly delicious blend of crisp cold brew and velvety blackberry syrup.

One of the tasty small plates offered at Hodges Bend are the Charred Brussels, accentuated by lime, cilantro, and queso fresco.

No hour is truly happy without food and I was over the moon at the assortment of tasty treats Hodges had on offer. Chief among them, charred brussel sprouts. Everybody does brussel sprouts, but these tasty little cabbages were vibrant and fresh, dressed with chimichurri, lime, and dusted with rich and creamy queso fresco.

Feeling crabby? Hodges Bend’s trio of crab cakes feature an avocado topping alongside a Vietnamese salad.

Another standout small plate, the warm kabocha squash, combines roasted squash with a rich, silky red curry vinaigrette and the light freshness of shaved daikon radish.

The clear winner of taste buds this particular day was the crab cake. Or, more accurately, crab cakes. Three of them, in fact. Crab cakes are typically a bland affair. Bready, sad little hockey pucks of disappointment. The crab cakes at Hodges Bend, however, sing with flavor. And crab. Citrus-dressed shaved brussel sprouts festoon three hearty crab cakes.

Hodges Bend offers a wide variety of coffee cocktails and mocktails.

Based on our one fruitful afternoon foray, I look forward to future visits to sample, among other things, the much-celebrated burger and equally talked-about brunch. And we haven’t even talked about the coffee.

Beyond a stunning menu, coffee offering, wine list and beer collection, Hodges Bend serves up exceptional service in a relaxed urban cubby that feels delightfully far away from the hustle and bustle just beyond its doors.

Hodges Bend
2700 University Ave W.
St. Paul
www.hodges-bend.com

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