Guess what? Today was the first day I’ve gone out to eat since I started this blog. Amazing. When I was living in San Diego just a few weeks ago we were eating out every couple days. Not so anymore. However, since starting Dave’s Cheap Eats I’ve become inspired. Inspired not just to eat out but to make every dining experience a “Dave’s Cheap Eat’s” experience. That is great food at a cheap price.
Today we were looking for some comfort food, nothing too fancy, too complex, or too trendy - just down home good food. I found out about a place called Hodak’s in South St. Louis that was famous for fried chicken and cheap prices. A little history, local place keeps growing is sold and then expands to be really big. Given this history I was a little worried it would just be a corporate cookie cutter-following some recipe for fast cheap food without flavor. But, as I said earlier, it had great reviews so we decided to give it a try.
From the outside it did not look cheap. They had their own parking lot across a side street from their restaurant which was surrounded by a black wrought iron fence with fancy yellow “H”‘s. I was beginning to think that this can’t be the same place with this menu, this looks like a fancy German (is that the origin of the surname Hodak?) restaurant. We went ahead and parked in the fancy parking lot and wandered across the street to the restaurant.
One of the dangers of visiting a new restaurant is you don’t always know how things work. Instead of going through the front door we ended up in the take out door. No worries, several friendly staff pointed us in the right direction and we were quickly seated in this chicken heaven. And I do mean heaven. Not only because of all the chickens that go to heaven for their famous fried chicken but also for all the rooster and chicken wall hangings and nick-knacks that filled their relatively new building adding an grandma’s attic feel to the place.
We quickly were handed menus and immediately broke the number one rule of Cheap Eats, we each ordered our own entree. Both kids got their own two drumstick meal, Bethany chose the tuna fish sandwich, and I ordered the jack salmon (which came highly recommended). The food took a while to come out even though the restaurant wasn’t too crowded this Sunday night. However, when it did arrive it all tasted freshly fried.
So how do you judge good fried food? The batter has to be seasoned and fried crisp without the excess grease. Hodak’s hit the mark on all of these. Both the chicken and the jack salmon (does anyone actually know what a jack salmon is? the best the restaurant staff could tell me was that it was a white fish, wikipedia doesn’t list it and other sites describe it as a salmon that comes back to spawn too young and dies) were all fried up perfectly. And the sides, oh the sides! Perfectly flavored green beans with just a hint of bacon and day old coleslaw with just enough bite with out being overpowering rounded out the good of the meal. Now, there were fries that weren’t special and a couple pieces of toast under everything which didn’t add anything but did seem to soak up any residual grease (added bonus!).
After finishing off the jack salmon, I still don’t know what a jack salmon is, and some beans and coleslaw I was stuffed-but not greasy. The worst thing about eating fried food is feeling greasy afterwards-not here. The fried fish and chicken finished clean instead of greasy and as we made our way out (this time through the front door) we returned to the car full, ok, stuffed, and satisfied that we had found a great place for the guilty comfort of fried food.