The Future of Food Served Fresh Daily at Hobcaw Café
With a focus on whole foods and fresh vegetables, the Verona restaurant is poised to celebrate their second anniversary.
In a little less than two years the Hobcaw Café has established itself as a mainstay in Verona, and it’s easy to see why.
The sunny, little eatery on Grove Street serves up food the way it’s supposed to be – fresh, natural and made in house from scratch everyday.
“Our philosophy is to have everything homemade and use the best ingredients we can,” said James McArthur who runs the restaurant with his mother Nancy, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute in Manhattan, and his brother, Chip.
They derived their philosophy when Nancy enrolled in culinary school. After researching several of the heavy hitters like the French Culinary Institute, Culinary Institute of America and Institute of Culinary Education, she found the schools were a little too heavy – in a not so healthy way.
They were heavy with butter and cream. But Nancy was looking to take a different direction in the culinary arts.
“Natural Gourmet Institute had emphasis on whole food,” McArthur explained, “and that’s where cuisine is going now.” And the McArthurs are taking Verona there.
“We try to keep everything as wholesome as possible while still being incredibly delicious.”
From the sound of the new American cuisine the café cooks up for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch, they seem to have met their goal. McArthur rattled off just a few mouth-watering menu items like salmon club sandwiches, fresh baked quiches and Brie and butternut squash wraps but said his all-time favorite dish is the ketchup glazed meatloaf sandwich with Dijon mustard and melt cheddar cheese on sourdough toast.
“It’s all classic, good food but with a modern take on it.”
That modern approach also highlights vegetables, which play a major role in the McArthurs’ menu. “The future of food is definitely in vegetables,” McArthur stressed. “If you look at all the flavor that can be derived from vegetables, it’s huge. You can combine any vegetable in a pan, and they all taste good. They all go together.”
While meat is certainly part of the Hobcaw menu, it is not the sole focus. “With our meat you’ve got a wonderful purée underneath and vegetables surrounding it, so the dish is very balanced.”
That balance and homemade goodness is what has attracted other chefs to the restaurant. Not to work but to eat. McArthur noted one client of theirs is a private chef who orders her dinner from Hobcaw every night.
“Last year she lost 96 pounds,” McArthur said, and although Hobcaw can’t claim all the credit, there’s something to their food.
That something may be difficult for most in the modern world to attain given the hectic, overscheduled nature of the times, but at least local families can still find it at Hobcaw Café.
Even better they can find it at a very reasonable price. Before the brunch menu was added no item at the cafe was priced over $10. And that eye toward economy along with the McArthurs' focus on wholesome, healthy food has been the foundation of their success.
“The key to survival is putting up a solid product on a consist basis and having a good value,” McArthur said, adding “It’s a place to come to get good food at a good price.”