The main dining room has an old-fashioned counter along one wall, booths along the opposite wall, and a dozen or so small tables squeezed in between. Café Hon has grown over time, with a small spillover dining room on one side and the popular Hon Bar on the other. The Hon theme is evident in the Pepto-pink walls, a life-size Elvis statue, faux leopard skin booth upholstery, two huge “Hon face” paintings, and teapots on the walls.
Ramsay’s influence is evident in the pared-down menu with just eight appetizers ($5-11), seven sandwiches ($7-14), a few salads ($5-8; additions starting at $5), and eight entrees ($12-19, plus a Monday-through-Thursday single crab cake special for $13). We ordered the fried oysters appetizer to share. Marty and three of our friends opted for the crab cake special, while John ordered a classic burger ($8 with fries). Our other friend decided on a Reuben sandwich ($9 with chips; fries cost an extra $3).
Our appetizer included eight nice cornmeal-crusted, variably sized oysters, but the accompanying tartar sauce was overly sweet and didn’t enhance them at all. The crab cakes were good sized and included a pile of hot fries (lightly dusted with Old Bay) and coleslaw. Marty and our friends liked the “cakes,” which were mostly crab with a hint of Old Bay. While the slaw got a “Thumbs-up,” Marty thought that the fries were average at best. Our waitress brought one friend a saucer-sized salad in place of his fries for no added cost. John’s burger was a big eight ounces, and it arrived medium rare as ordered; both the burger and hot, freshly cooked fries earned a “Thumbs Up” from him. While our waitress brought our friends both the chips and the fries (which arrived unsalted, as requested), the skinny Reuben was big disappointment with under-stuffed corn beef that had dried out edges. Fortunately, the unexpected homemade kettle-style chips heavily dusted with Old Bay proved addictive.
Our waitress (friendly and obliging, though not a classic “Hon”) talked us into sharing an order of bread pudding. While the three-inch-tall, wide chunk of bread pudding looked darn impressive with whipped cream piled on top surrounded by caramel sauce, the sauce was too thin and the pudding was too thick, and it proved less than a hit with us.
While the food and service at Café Hon has thankfully improved, and the touristy Hon schitck can be a hoot, Hampden offers a half dozen competing restaurants within walking distance that offer as good (or better) similarly priced dining opportunities.
1002 W. 36th St
410.243.1230 • CafeHon.com
Open 7 days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Full bar • Vegetarian options
Saturday & Sunday brunch