By Heather McPherson, ORLANDO SENTINEL FOOD EDITOR
April 28, 2013
Hash House A Go Go opened touting "urban-farm décor" and over-the-top portions of something called "twisted farm food."
I grew up around farming communities in the Midwest and have spent a lot of time with Florida farmers, but I'm not sure what to expect from an "urban-farm" setting. Other than a shiny tractor in the foyer and large photos on the wall depicting someone's rural life, Hash House looks like a lot of other fast-casual restaurants. There's a mix of dark wood tables (booths, regular and long communal tables) and a lot of nickel finishes around the room.
From what I can tell, the founders' interpretation of "twisted farm food" is servings that require a cardiologist on speed dial and an architect to deconstruct.
If you need to feed an army of teens who burn calories faster than an Indy 500 driver taps a lap, Hash House is the place. The prices are moderate too, which makes this a destination for tourists who have shot their vacation budget on theme-park tickets and want to eat somewhere without a drive-through window attached.
When we arrived at Hash House for lunch, we were warmly greeted by a hostess who said there weren't "any booths available" and ushered us to an empty high-top communal table in the bar. We hadn't asked for any particular type of table, which was somewhat amusing as we walked by a nearly empty dining room with empty booths and regular tables. Our elevated perch gave us a good view of the room.
We started with the sage fried chicken, a dish stacked with bacon waffles, warm maple caramel reduction on the side and crowned with fried leeks ($14.95). It was the culinary Tower of Terror. A wood skewer and a long plume of fresh rosemary held the two pieces of fried chicken in place. The chicken was juicy and the batter had a nice crunch. I called it done after one piece of chicken, one waffle and half a piece of bacon.
One guest ordered the "HH Famous" chicken pot pie ($12.95). The concept turns the basic pie on its side and features a crisp, 8-inch hat-shaped top crust overflowing with roasted chicken, tender red potatoes, chopped vegetables and creamy gravy. This isn't your grandmother's pot pie, but it is large enough to feed her garden club.
The Kokomo meatloaf sandwich was dressed with roasted tomato and a tissue-thin sheet of fried smoked mozzarella. The meatloaf had a superb texture and was mildly seasoned.
This Hoosier couldn't resist the pork tenderloin sandwich ($13.95), a Midwest staple. The menu said I would think I was "back home in Indiana." Sorry, no. The breaded behemoth is supposed to drape over the bun, but this tenderloin was hub-cap size. I know size matters to the founders of Hash House A Go Go, but sometimes too big takes a dish to a cartoonish level and that clearly happened here.
To-go boxes are encouraged, but, when we ordered one dish to go, a 50-cent surcharge appeared on our ticket. That seems a bit gratuitous.
Service got off to a slow start but by the end of the meal the cadence had picked up to an appropriate level.
Hash House A Go Go is not for the faint of appetite or heart. But it will definitely fill you up.
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The Dish on dining
Hash House A Go Go
** out of four
Where: 5350 International Dr., Orlando (between Municipal Drive and Del Verde Way)
When: Breakfast 7:30-11 a.m. daily, lunch 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, dinner 5-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, brunch 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tractor bar noon-11 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
How much: Breakfast and brunch $6.95-$16.95, lunch $5.95-$15.95, dinner $7-$39
Beverages: Full bar
Wines by the glass: From $7
Extras: Limited vegetarian options, good for groups, private dining, takes reservations, takeout (50 cent surcharge)
Music: Piped mix of rock and pop
Wheelchair access: Easy
Noise level: Quiet during the day with a livelier buzz in the evenings
Credit: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Online: hashhouseagogo.com and Facebook
Dining on a budget
You hit the jackpot. Entrees huge and sharable.
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