Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hop Cat, 25 Ionia - 12/3/09

To be fair, this is a noted bar on the bar strip we call Ionia. But we heard the food was good so decided to try it for lunch. The decor and ambiance are impressive. Interesting music posters are everywhere, including flat up on the ceiling. The restaurant name we assumed came from the 1990s music scene (although hip-hop started much earlier). Every other chair is covered in art deco prints that reflects the 1930s-1940s but it’s cool. The corner location of the restaurant provides windows on two streets, an interior brick wall, and the always fawned-upon open ceiling. Long wooden booths line the brick wall, and a pretty mahogany bar and 15 + tables complete the picture. The place has great atmosphere and is courteous to smokers; there’s a lounge on the 2nd floor.

The menu offers 33 items, four marked as Hopcat Signature Dishes. Interesting for a non-seafood restaurant, sauteed mussels were among the appetizers. The only other seafood dishes were Tilapia Fish Sandwich, Fish & Chips (cod) and Tilapia Fish Tacos. We had to pass on the muscles as being too big a risk on quality here in the midwest. So we ordered the one Hopcat Signature appetizer, Buffalo Rolls: roasted chicken rolled in crispy wontons, and served with blue cheese sauce for dipping. 

The Buffalo sauce in the roll overpowered everything, however, and the meat could have been anything. Two minutes after the appetizer arrived, our sandwiches came, which is always an annoyance. Sandwiches were Shaved Pork and a Sloppy Joseph, both served with “Crack” Fries (yes, that’s what they’re called). The Shaved Pork was dry and served with a brown sauce, the combination of which any chef should be embarrassed to serve. The Sloppy Joseph faired much better, spicy and delicious. The fries, although probably nowhere as addicting as crack, were highly seasoned and very good.

Hopcat claims that it was named the “3rd best beer bar on Planet Earth” by Beer Advocate Magazine - quite a claim. But with its 200 beers, 48 on tap, we could probably recommend it as a bar, but not as a restaurant. One last note, we heard from an ex-patron of the bar that a pitcher of a Founder’s Brew (just down the street) cost $30.00 at Hopcat. On second thought, maybe Founders Brewery would be a better bar recommendation.

Hop Cat on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. The beer selection is outstanding, but the too laid back service and food has always been the knock on this place.

    I sat there with my wife and witnessed a server actually pick a fork off the floor and set it on a customers she was helping them out for dropping their silverware. The look on the customers' faces was priceless as the server walked away.

    As for the food, it's pretty bad. It's unfortunate when the best item out of your kitchen are fries. Don't order the Bar Z burger (according to an ex kitchen employee) because the bar cheese sits out all day next to a steam well.

    I know the owners and the general managers, hence posting anonymously. Great people and great ideas. As for execution, it's easy to not execute when you're the only game in town.

    Stella's has the largest whiskey list, Viceroy has the largest cocktail menu, and Hopcat has the largest beer selection.

    When there is little competition to have the "largest or greatest of something," people tend to overlook the very serious flaws. If these places can get a handle of food and service, they would be world class.