HASH HOUSE A GO GO
5350 International Drive | 407-370-4646 | hashhouseagogo.com | $$$
It’s housed a buffet, a ristorante and two different churrascarias, but the building situated on the bend of I-Drive near Kirkman Road has chewed ’em up and spit ’em all out in its nine-year existence. The latest tenant – Hash House a Go Go – has hopes of reversing the trend with its enormous platters and agri-chic aesthetic. The shiny red Ferguson tractor inside the front entrance made a big impression and got us excited about sampling the “twisted farm food” being slung here. Naturally, we inquired about the farms they sourced, and if they were local, but our server just gave us a shifty-eyed nod of assurance. Not satisfied, I gave a cursory call to the restaurant a few nights later. After being put on hold for five minutes, I was told that nobody there knew, and that the only person who would know – the chef/manager – wasn’t in.
Now, whether they’re made from local ingredients or not, the complimentary serving of mutantly large biscuits with honey butter had us shaking our heads in disbelief, but when the stack of fried green tomatoes ($9.95) was set on our table, our eyes nearly popped out of their collective sockets. Standing more than a foot tall, the heavily breaded tomatoes were layered with creamy chicken salad, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, then skewered onto a huge wedge of watermelon. A long sprig of rosemary formed the crown. The thing looked more like a headdress for Carmen Miranda than it did an appetizer, and thanks to the thorough adulteration (believe me, that’s an understatement), the taste of tomato could barely be discerned. Now that’s twisted. We did enjoy the watermelon, however.
Clearly, the folks at Hash House take great pride in stunning and shocking diners with their gargantuan plates of food; gasps can be heard echoing throughout the spacious restaurant at any given time. When the stuffed meatloaf ($16.95), sage fried chicken Benedict ($15.95) and chicken pot pie ($14.95) arrived, the servers grinned and soaked in our reactions to much delight. “This is like Cracker Barrel on crack,” yelped one of my dining comrades. “On steroids!” said another. While each mondo dish alone could feed a family of four, the flavors were anything but awe-inspiring. Yes, we noted the deft mix of beef, sausage and bacon in the meatloaf, as well as the bed of griddled mashed potatoes, but drenching it all with mozzarella cheese and Marsala sauce took the comfort right out of it. Likewise with the Benedict. The fried chicken under the heap of spinach, bacon, tomato, mozzarella, scrambled egg and chipotle cream was completely parched, as were the potatoes on which the biscuit-held concoction sat. We didn’t care for the hard hat-sized cracker crust on the chicken pot pie (a biscuit crust might’ve been better), but the fresh veggies and pan gravy made it the best dish of the lot.
At the insistence of our server, we opted for the Snickers bread pudding ($8.95), another example of the “big in stature, wee in satisfaction” style that we had grown tired of. The “twist,” in Hash House’s case, is gimmicky abundance at the expense of culinary merit. In Twitterspeak, that translates to #quantityoverquality.