Hone blends high-end creations with street fare inspired by the owner’s time in the Air Force
Hone is operating in a category of its own, where a Puerto Rican favorite, shrimp mofongo, is featured alongside orange scallops in curried yogurt.
Fine dining isn’t the right label for this restaurant. Neither is globally inspired food spot. Hone is operating in a category of its own, where a Puerto Rican favorite, shrimp mofongo, is featured alongside orange scallops in curried yogurt.
The Johnson Street restaurant, which opened in March 2021, has a menu like none other in Madison. The “chef’s side” of the menu is where Hone’s culinary team shows off its high-end dining chops with dishes such as a sweet potato tamale with mushroom agrodolce or strip steak in tamarind tequila sauce.
“What I really liked was street food when I was overseas,” says owner Michael Parks. Items like lumpia, döner kebabs and budae jjigae (a spicy Korean-fusion stew) were things Parks craved, but couldn’t find in Madison — placing them at the top of his must-create list.
Hone’s elevated street food side of the menu was inspired by Parks’ eight years in the Air Force, when he lived and worked in countries around the globe, like Korea and Italy. After returning to Madison, Parks eventually joined the service industry where he planned to pick up bartending skills he could use to earn a living when he traveled abroad once again.
Parks instead found himself grounded in Madison due to pandemic travel restrictions. But he put the skills to use anyway — he opened a neighborhood restaurant and focused on making every dish distinct yet delicious.
Where some new restaurants burst onto the scene in a wave of marketing and hype, Parks lets Hone’s food speak for itself. “We’ve been more focused on the food and the experience inside than how to get people in. We’ve mostly relied on word of mouth,” Parks says. Word has certainly begun to spread.
Three Dishes to Try:
Hone’s street food side of the menu is filled with flavors Parks grew to know and love during his travels. Of all the options, his go-to dish is the döner kebab, a Turkish staple. Spicy beef and chili sambal are balanced by creamy garlic aioli and pickled vegetables. It comes on lavash, a thin flatbread.
“It’s yummy!” was the best compliment owner Michael Parks ever received on this dish, and it came from a satisfied 4-year-old customer. These fried spring rolls, commonly found in the Philippines and Indonesia, come with a variety of fillings including pork and cheese, corned beef kimchi, mushroom tofu and crab avocado chèvre. Hone’s lumpia use a rice wrap, which makes them extra crispy as well as gluten free. Dipping them in the sweet chili sauce works with most flavors, but opt for the habanero horseradish mustard for a kick.
This owner’s favorite from the chef’s side of the menu features a juicy yet crispy duck leg covered in a rich Buffalo Trace Whiskey umami sauce. The dish may focus on duck, but the homemade chicken liver pate with fried Hawaiian rice is a star in and of itself. Bold flavors and fun textures make this a highly recommended option.
Come to Dinner
Owner Michael Parks envisions Hone as a stage for showcasing great food and beverages. “I like the idea of this being a venue for culinary artists,” he says. This is why, in addition to its regular menu and service, Hone hosts special ticketed dinners featuring guest chefs or themed fare. In the past, Hone has held a Franco-American boîte dinner, including pheasant and waffle croquettes, and a Cajun/Creole night featuring fried alligator with a crawfish marinara. Parks chose the name Hone for his restaurant partly because of its meaning around sharpening and refining. He hopes these pop-up-style events continue to allow creativity to flourish at his restaurant as his community of chefs, bartenders and staff hone their craft.
Hone: 708-1/4 E. Johnson St., honeplated.com
Marissa DeGroot is a contributing writer to Madison Magazine.
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