Riverside’s newest “it” restaurant, HOBNOB, delectably balances sophistication and fun


With its spot at Unity Plaza, HOBNOB is right in the thick of things. Its two entrances are flanked by planters with bright bird of paradise plants and fresh herbs like parsley and dill, the crisp scent of which gave me a good feeling about the food.

HOBNOB’s atmosphere is unpretentious. The ceiling, with its modern flair, will draw your eye; the bar showcases blown glass sculptures, which were created by hand, at Jacksonville University.

Speaking of the bar, I have a conflicting relationship with trying new craft cocktails. What if you don’t like it? You’ll forever (OK, the five minutes it takes to finish your drink) be thinking of the things you could have eaten with that $12. That being said, I feel confident recommending HOBNOB’s coconut Amaretto sour ($8). It has a beautifully frothy egg-white crest, similar to a Pisco sour, with excellent flavor. It even comes with a tiny spoonful of their housemade apricot purée — you can scoop it up and enjoy it on its own or stir it in your drink — your choice! 

The appetizers are interesting — from spicy truffled edamame ($8) to Ahi poke tuna & spicy lump crab tacos ($18), there are plenty of choices. My two favorites? Steamed Prince Edward Island mussels ($14) with housemade fennel sausage and the Mediterranean Trio with warmed naan ($12). The trio includes creamy cucumber tzatziki, smoked eggplant mutabblal spread and warm olives. Let me tell you — I could eat a giant bowl of smoked eggplant, along with the warmed olives, and be satisfied with my choice.

HOBNOB Head Chef Roger Regulacion is dedicated to making sure that the menu is varied, and that his team feels like a community. He said, “We believe in supporting each other [in the kitchen]. Everyone is involved with the menu.”

I was able to try a variety of dinner items; with briny, tender mussels, fresh, firm salmon and flaky sea bass, HOBNOB does seafood right. The Kaffir lime leaf mochi crusted sea bass ($32) has a green curry sauce so tasty it gives a whole new personality to the rice that accompanies it. You’d be remiss to leave even a drop of it on the plate. If you’re looking for something a bit simpler, but still excellently prepared, get the pan-seared salmon ($28).

Vegans, do not despair! There are options for you on the menu, and the accommodating staff is willing to make substitutions. Regulacion even recommended giving them a call ahead if you can and they’ll be able to create a dish just for you.

After such a delicious dinner, I didn’t want it to end. So I didn’t let it. For dessert, I recommend the banana bread pudding. I know, I know, it seems like every restaurant in town is pushing bread pudding, and the results can be mixed, but I’m certain you’ll agree that HOBNOB’s is just right: warm and gooey with the perfect amount of banana — a delicious finish to the meal. 

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