Cafe Hon's new digs look something like a nice old-fashioned Hampden eatery -- but all bright and shiny, the way '90s versions of '50s diners are.
You'll be eating off a table that will remind you of your mom's kitchen table. The china is mismatched. But everything is freshly painted (off white, with the exposed pipes painted silver). There's a handsome bar. And you'll love those chandeliers made from coffee cups. The new Cafe Hon, which moved from a smaller spot across the street, is still homey; but now it's chic as well, hon.
Owner Denise Whiting didn't change the menu when she moved. Cafe Hon still has simple, straightforward food; nothing costs over $10. (The pork chops with fresh rosemary and garlic, homemade mashed potatoes, apple sauce and a vegetable are top of the line at $9.95.) Those mashed potatoes are the old-fashioned kind, whipped silky smooth -- none of these trendy additions like garlic or chopped up skins. You can get them with homemade brown gravy and "Much Better Than Mom's" meatloaf. It tastes fine, but meatloaf is meatloaf. It's not better than mom's, but it's not worse either.
The cauliflower that comes with it is delicious, as is the salad made with interesting lettuces and an excellent dill vinaigrette.
That same salad is the base of the "Hon Salad," an oddball combination of chicken and egg salads with bacon and feta cheese that ends up tasting pretty good. (Salads, sandwiches and burgers make up most of the menu.)
Most everything works, although the vegetable beef soup was pedestrian, with its tired vegetables and uninspired broth. I've had better hummus (one of the few starters), but you wouldn't expect a place called Cafe Hon to have great hummus. A smarter, though not necessarily healthier, choice for openers would be a plate of the Cafe Hon's hot and crisp fresh cut french fries. You can get them plain, with gravy, or with chili, cheese and onions.
Of course you'll want to have dessert here. Perhaps the sturdy bread pudding, slathered in homemade caramel sauce, or the extra rich pecan pie with a good, short crust. But the place is best known for its Cafe Hon sundae with your choice of fudge or caramel sauce. (Those with no shame at all will order the Hopkins sundae. It comes with both.)
1002 W. 36th St.
Open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Credit cards: AE, MC, V
! Prices: Under $10