Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Why Eat at a Chain Wednesday: HOQ

A friend and I decided to check out HOQ on a cold January day. We asked the local shopkeeper what they’d heard about the place. “Mixed reviews,” she said, though she followed up with “Some people really like it.”

That pretty much sums up my HOQ experience, mixed reviews but hoping to follow up and like it.

20140103_123113 (1)I arrived at the former baby boomers to a pretty empty restaurant for 12:15 during a weekday lunch.  Our waitress seated us right away, and I glanced over the small lunch menu. It was a who’s who of local produce and farms from Cory Family Farm beef to Milton Creamery cheese to just across the river South Union bread. Just knowing the ingredients were locally sourced filled my mind with images of happy cows and hand-made cheeses.

The menu consisted primarily of burgers and sandwiches with some salads and soups. It looked like a solid place for vegetarians. I was debating between the veggie burger and the lamb sausage but decided on the lamb sausage because it seemed pretty interesting and was the most expensive at $12. When the waitress took our order she asked if we wanted fries or salad, surprisingly since side salad was the only option listed on the menu. I went with fries and my friend got a chicken burrito at $9.

20140103_123135 (1)Our food came and looked elegantly presented with good portion sizes. The first thing that struck me about my meal was the rainbow of purple, orange and brown fries, which were delicious.

The apple, slaw was a little on the light side, looking more like a drizzle of mustard than slaw, and the pear pieces were more like cumbersome sticks that were difficult to eat in the bun. The lamb was good and fresh, but the whole combo I just found lacking some flavor.

My friend eloquently described her burrito as ‘Needs more sauce.’ I left semi-disappointed with that feeling of not getting the ‘right’ thing on the menu.

While lunch didn’t wow me, I feel like the restaurant has good ideas, service, and atmosphere. I would consider again maybe for dinner instead of lunch.

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