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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hotch Can Do

Healthy, tasty and fun

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For many decades the neighborhood around East North Avenue has been a destination for film lovers, thanks to the Oriental Theatre. With its proximity to UW-Milwaukee, the area became one of the city’s party lands, a zone of happy hours and half-price pitchers, of bars and youthful clubs and restaurants open to greet the dawn. In the last few years East North Avenue also became an organic food mecca, anchored by the long-running Beans & Barley and now including Whole Foods and a restaurant, Hotch-A-Do.

Hotch-A-Do opened two summers ago with an eye on healthy yet fun dining. Owner Angie Storm is a vegetarian, eager to demonstrate the joys eating without meat, but unwilling to impose her views dogmatically. On a recent visit, the chalkboard with pizza specials listed a barbecue chicken pizza, a Hawaiian with ham and pineapple and a trio of selections topped with cheeses and vegetables.

The restaurant opens daily at 9 a.m., serving breakfast until 11 a.m. weekdays and 3 p.m. for late risers on weekends. You can supplement a cup of coffee with the usual bagel and cream cheese ($2.50) or go for something different—a piece of seasonal fruit ($1.50), homemade banana zucchini sweetbreads ($2.50) and even cherry or apple dumplings ($2.50). More filling selections for hungry morning people include blueberry and banana pancakes made from scratch ($6.50) and a meatless hash ($8.50) with cheese potatoes, goat cheese, broccoli, red peppers and onions mixed with two organic eggs. For an extra $2, bacon, sausage or ham can be tossed into the hash as it sizzles on the griddle.

Options are of the essence at Hotch-A-Do. The “Eggs Benny” ($8.50) can be ordered with slices of tofu wedged into the poached organic eggs on a pair of English muffins topped with fresh avocado and smothered in a rather bland Hollandaise sauce. Or you can have it with bacon or ham at no extra cost.

Come lunchtime, a dozen sandwiches are offered, from homey snacks such as grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly ($5.50 each) to a summery caprese ($8), the heftier “Gramma Franca’s Meatball Hoagie” ($8.50) and “The Milwaukee Rachel” ($8.50), a Reuben made with provolone and unprocessed turkey breast. The entree list is short but inviting, with baked chicken provolone and lasagna from the Storm family recipe book ($10.50) at the high end for prices. You can also nibble on bread with olive oil ($2) or fill up on an enormous bowl of spinach artichoke dip ringed with blue chips and flatbread ($7.50). There is a daily soup selection as well. It’s not fast food, frozen a week earlier and heated in the microwave; it’s all prepared freshly. Order at the counter, but expect to wait a few minutes before the waitress brings the meal to your table. Hotch-A-Do is located in a former Laundromat—a high-ceilinged building with refurbished brick walls and big picture windows overlooking busy East North Avenue. The menu prices are remarkably reasonable, given the higher cost of the organic ingredients used in many of the dishes. The wine and beer selection is excellent and mixed drinks are also available.

HOTCH-A-DO
1813 E. Kenilworth Place (414) 727-2122 CC: MC, VS, DS Handicap Access: Yes

Photo by Tate Bunker