Just in time for leisurely alfresco meals, Brevard’s Hobnob Restaurant – known for its busy patio – is back in business. Outdoor chairs and tables have been unstacked, and the popular eatery on Main Street will open Monday, May 18, with a new concept spearheaded by a new executive chef and business partner, Donald Meints.
“Everything on the menu is made from scratch,” says Meints, adding that for him the process of careful food preparation is paramount to the restaurant’s successful return to the Brevard dining scene. “I love slow food. The kind of flavors I’m after take all day to make.”
After closing the eatery for six months for a structural face-lift, restaurant owner Chris Gandolfo decided to take the century-old, former residential home back to the basics in look, menu and appeal. “We want to be the restaurant on Main Street where locals come to eat and visitors want to eat,” says Gandolfo, who has owned the restaurant for the past eight years.
Meints, who is a graduate of the California Culinary Institute, first studied food preparation under his Italian-born “nonna,” or grandmother, when he was just a little boy. “I was the one that, instead of playing outside and running around, spent time with her in the kitchen, pressing out garlic and making dough.”
After working in restaurants in San Francisco and a six-month stint in Italy, Meints first came to North Carolina to work as a culinary consultant at Duke University in Durham and more recently served as the head of food services at Brevard College and camp chef at Camp Carolina.
Signature dishes on the menu harken back to a time when meals took all day to come together and consisted of ingredients that were lovingly canned, dried or cured weeks or months in advance – or picked just that afternoon. In fact, the Hobnob proudly boasts a very short farm-to-table journey – produce can be carried in right through the front door from the restaurant’s garden less than half a block west.
And if that isn’t fresh enough, a new pergola will not only provide shade for those eating outdoors but will also do double duty as a big-scale trellis for mushroom logs, edible vines and climbing tomato plants whose fruits will be harvested in time for daily lunch and dinner specials.
Accentuating and adding unexpected dimensions to “more approachable dishes” is how Meints likes to characterize his culinary preferences. The menu will feature old-style condiments such as green tomato jam and watermelon chow-chow and tempt diners with dishes embellished with in-house rendered duck confit or old-fashioned white barbecue sauce.
Meints says he aims to charm returning guests and new patrons with flavors that combine forgotten cooking and preservation techniques with high-quality meats and the freshest ingredients available. “Simple dishes that make an impression is how I like to think of it,” he says of the overall theme of his menu.
The lunch and dinner menu, which will include a few old favorites such as the Hobnob’s signature tomato basil soup, starts with appetizers, soups and salads at $5 and tops out at around $25 for a dinner entrée featuring a prime cut of meat.
A newly expanded full bar invites diners with local draft and domestic and imported bottled beer, wine and cocktails and offers 10 seats instead of the previous three.
The Hobnob restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch, and 5-9 p.m. for dinner. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
For more information or to make a reservation, call 966-4662 or go to hobnobrestaurant.com.