Hopscotch Bar, Braddon

This is my first time at Hopscotch in Braddon, they’ve been open for a little while now (maybe a month or two) but I haven’t had the chance to head over to try it until last weekend. Everyone at work has been chatting about it and every time I walk past the place, the outdoor seating is bustling with people catching up over some after work drinks.

I kind of like the idea behind Hopscotch, its mainly a bar with plenty of good quality hard liquors but it also serves Argentinian inspired food. Hopscotch has a permanent spit where they apparently roast pigs and other goodies every now and then. I haven’t seen it in action but I think in a few more weeks it would be perfect, warm nights spent watching a suckling pig rotating on Hopscotch’s spit and munching away on charred Argentinian spiced deliciousness. Apparently Hopscotch is part owned by the people behind Elk & Pea, Parlour Wine Rooms and Knightsbridge which all make fantastic foods and drinks so it makes sense that this is no different.

Anyways, I’ve been super excited about hitting up Hopscotch for a while now, the menu looks amazing, and quite extensive for a pub and the vibe and atmosphere seems really cool. I think this place will become a very popular watering hole for Canberra.

Anyways, less chit chat, time for some food talk.

First up the All American beef burger ($18) with mustard, ketchup, monterrey jack cheese and onions on a white butter bun. This was a really tasty burger! The mince was lightly seasoned with what appeared to be just salt and pepper which allowed the meat flavours itself to really stand out and gave the burger a real smokey American feel. The patty was cooked perfectly, charred on the outside with just the right amount of crunch and nice and soft on the inside keeping the patty super juicy. On top of the meat, there was a nice big slice of monterrey jack cheese. To be honest, I only wrote down monterrey jack cheese because that’s what is written on the menu, but it felt more like an American cheese, the sort you’d get at Maccas. I didn’t mind too much though, it really fit the idea of a classic burger, and the taste was just right. Finally, to finish off the burger and add some colour and lightness to the burger some tomatoes, onions and a generous amount of pickle. I really liked how Hopscotch layered the pickles. Instead of a couple of thick chunks here and there, the pickles were sliced and layered through the burger. This ensured that every bite had just enough pickle and sourness to balance out the richness of the meat and cheese.

Here is a close up of the All American beef burger. Look at the deliciously charred patty with melted American cheese and those little bits of vibrant tomato, onion and pickle sticking out. The burger was served with a decent amount of french fries which were light and crispy, much like what you would find at a McDonalds, again not glamorous but fit the dish perfectly and I love maccas chips and could eat them every day, well maybe if it didn’t cause me to die extra quickly. The chips came with this awesome roasted garlic mayo that was super creamy and really full of garlic flavours. It was strong but it went perfectly with the lightly salted french fries. There was also a pretty decent amount of it too, so I wasn’t too worried about running out of sauce or anything.

Overall, this all American beef burger meal was great, tasty and Hopscotch recreated the American taste and feel perfectly, would definitely get it again.

For some extra nibbles, we grabbed a serving of Tajin spiced calamari ($15) with kimchi slaw and fried onions. This was quite nice actually! I really had no plans on getting it, I was initially eyeing the crab and corn quesadilla which sounded amazing. Corn and crab, two ingredients that are definitely up there for me, between a grilled tortilla. It sounded like the perfect snack to match with my fruity cocktail on a lovely Spring afternoon in Canberra. Sadly, when I got to the counter I was informed by the staff at Hopscotch that they couldn’t make them! I didn’t really have a back up, so in my panic I picked the only other seafood option. I was super disappointed but that all changed the moment I started digging into the calamari and kimchi claw.

The calamari was crispy but not in that super crunchy deep fried style, this was probably a really good thing as it ensured that the calamari didn’t taste or feel super oily like it usually does. Here it was light, crisp and airy. It seemed like the calamari was lightly crumbed in a panko crumb and then lightly fried. As for the calamari inside, it was soft and came away easily. Taste wise, the calamari was quite bland, there was some slight creaminess to it but overall there wasn’t really any sign of spice and it definitely wasn’t chilli, thankfully for me. This is were the kimchi slaw came in. This slaw was amazing. The guys at Hopscotch here know what they are doing. The slaw had that light sourness of kimchi, it also had a bit of tanginess and spice to it but nothing overwhelming. The kimchi was strong, savoury and rather salty and overpowering on its own but together with the milder but perfectly crispy calamari, it was perfect! I generally don’t love calamari or kimchi but I really enjoyed this dish at Hopscotch. Next time I go back for the crab and corn quesadilla, I’ll be ordering some more Tajin spiced calamari!

Here is a close up of the Tajin spiced calamari, I normally don’t like calamari but this one was extremely enjoyable and I would totally get it again, so I feel like it deserves a close up shot. It’s not the best value for money for $15, its not a lot of calamari or kimchi but when you’re at a hip bar, you’re not going to find a ton of cheap eats. Plus at least it’s tasty, so I don’t feel too gipped or anything. On a side note, I noticed that the dish’s description actually included fried onion but I don’t think I tasted or noticed any in my tray of calamari. Maybe it was a part of the slaw, if it was I assume it did its job well because that kimchi slaw was amazing!

Finally the last bit of deliciousness, Crispy buffalo wings ($14) with hot sauce, and blue cheese ranch dressing. These were really good. The buffalo wings were nicely sauced, not too much that it was messy and unpleasant but still enough for you to get the full flavour of the sauce. The buffalo sauce was a bit spicy, it packed a bit of a punch for me, but probably not for any seasoned chilli eaters. The blue cheese dressing was super creamy with a pretty mild blue cheese after taste to it, normally I’m not a massive fan of blue cheese but here it was really nice and worked perfectly to compliment the spiciness and slight sourness of the buffalo wing sauce. The buffalo wings themselves were perfect. The meat was nice and soft on the inside, with the flavour seeping throughout the meat, not just on the outside where the sauce was. It was as if Hopscotch had marinated them overnight. The skins on the buffalo wings were indeed crispy, there was a great amount of crunch to them and this worked perfectly with the soft tender chicken meat. The spring onions were also a really nice touch, they added some oniony goodness and some vibrant green freshness to the overall dish.

Finally our drink for the afternoon, the Hopscotch special ($20 for a jug), chambord, lemonade, fresh strawberries and mint. This was the special for the day (or week). Hopscotch had a couple of different staple jugs including a mojito, pina colada and one or two other ones (that I cannot remember). Anyways, it was a pretty warm day for Canberra, so I felt like getting something more summery and fruity. I actually really wanted a sangria but we didn’t see one on Hopscotch’s menu. After speaking to the bar staff, they recommended the special. They did tell us the name of the drinks and all the ingredients but I forget, sorry. The drink itself was quite nice, it wasn’t a sangria but still definitely felt like summer. It was sweet, refreshing and fruity. The alcohol wasn’t too strong, you would taste it slightly towards the end, but it wasn’t icky or overpowering. The fresh mints and strawberries were a nice touch, giving the jug lovely colour and extra freshness.  This drink really was the perfect way to start Spring in Canberra.

I really enjoyed my time at Hopscotch! The food was tasty and there was a massive variety when it comes to drinks. They had a lot of scotch, which I guess they specialise in, I even noticed some scotches from Japan and India! There was plenty of seating on the inside and outside to accommodate for big groups, which they seem to be getting. One slight dampener on my experience here, we sat down and ordered food, and a lady came around and started sticking stickers to the tables and mentioned to us that these tables were booked at 2:30. Wouldn’t normally be a problem, except that it was 2:23 when she told us. Bit of a mad scramble to move our things after that bit of news!

Hopscotch is absolutely bustling every time I walk by, not so busy on Mondays and Tuesdays after work but you can see a few people here and there. I think this place will be completely packed once the weather warms up and everyone comes out of their winter hibernation. This is definitely going to be a very popular watering hole in Canberra.

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