Note: Jersey Bites was invited to visit the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern and our writer received a complimentary meal.
Ho-Ho-Kus often grabs the attention of passers by because of its catchy name and rich history. Making the trip to this quaint town is well worth it, especially if you’re into the “small town” feel or looking for a great place to eat. There are plenty of dining places in the area, but the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern is sure to catch your eye—and tickle your taste buds.
The Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern was originally built in 1790, with portions of the building dating back to pre-revolutionary times. The Inn served as a residence until the late 1800s but as time went on, it became a stagecoach shop, hitching post, inn and hotel, as well as a tavern and restaurant for out-of-town travelers. Today, the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern stays true to its roots by maintaining some of the design elements and relics from its earliest days while simultaneously putting a modern spin on the restaurant. It is no surprise that the food is just as remarkable as the interior design and atmosphere.
I recently dined there with my boyfriend, on a cold and rainy Friday night. We were immediately warmed after eating the flavorsome bacalao soup. When I think of baccalà, I think of the strong taste of salt on the fish and pretty much prepare myself for such flavor. This soup, however, was perfectly balanced with roasted garlic and cream, making for a savory appetizer, wonderful in both taste and aroma. It was absolutely delicious.
Next, we tried the lobster and white truffle gnocchi and the Nantucket bay scallops. The gnocchi were cooked to perfection, with the most delicious smoked bacon crème fraiche on top. My absolute favorite bite of the night, however, was the mouthwatering scallop dish I had. These tender scallops were placed over a carrot-ginger risotto with really nice beet oil on the side. The risotto was cooked al dente, allowing for some resistance rather than being too soft. I wanted to order more of this dish because it was just that good; I was craving more after we left! We paired both of these dishes with a glass of Kistler chardonnay, which was suggested to us by our waiter and, of course, it was a very good choice.
Lastly, we had the roasted venison with braised Swiss chard, pearl onions, and fingerling potatoes in a cherry-cognac demi sauce. This was both our first time eating venison, so I was a little uncertain at first. But when I took my first bite into it I was pleasantly surprised. The meat was tender—but not gamey—and the cherry-cognac sauce really added to the delightful taste. We paired this dish with a glass of Old Vine zinfandel, a red wine with black cherry notes.
Aside from the food, I really loved the friendly and attentive staff as well as the atmosphere of the restaurant. Each dining room has its own personality. Although they each have an upscale and elegant feel, each room maintains the historical aspect of the restaurant. Dining at the Inn is a rich, cultural experience right in the center of downtown Ho-Ho-Kus.
Exterior photo courtesy of the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern.