Hop to It

. April 29, 2015.
hopcat

HopCat​

311 Maynard

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Phone: (734) 436-2875

Hours: Mon-Sat 11am – 2am; Sun 10am – 2am (kids welcome with parents until 9pm)

hopcat.com/ann-arbor

Two girls walked into a bar. No, that’s not the beginning of a bad joke. It was reality when my daughter, 8, and I visited HopCat for lunch one Saturday. My husband and son, 11, were out of town, so it was up to the ladies to check out the new bar and restaurant on Maynard.

 The Ann Arbor location of HopCat opened in February. It joins HopCat’s other locations in Detroit, Indianapolis, East Lansing, and Grand Rapids, where the original HopCat started in 2008. Per its website, HopCat is on “an unending quest to ensure that our beer selection is the best in the world”. There is a wide selection of eats at HopCat, too.

 Diners can choose from starters, sandwiches and wraps like the HopCat BLT, soups, salads, entrees such as a quesadilla, and burgers. Brunch is served Sundays from 10am-3pm. While there is no kid’s menu, our server was quick to point out kid-friendly fare like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and burgers.

Nach-Yo average bar  

My daughter and I started with the Pretzel Nuggz, a dozen buttered pretzel nuggets topped with salt and scallions, served with cheese and horseradish sauces ($8.50). I briefly considered the black bean burrito with chipotle black bean dip, feta cheese, portabello mushrooms and more, but succumbed to the siren call of the burgers. The Nach-Yo!, with fried poblano peppers, pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese, and avocado, sounded tempting, but I chose the Mushroom burger with portabello mushrooms, Swiss cheese, haystack onions, and a blue cheese-black pepper mayo ($11.50).

 I wanted my daughter to dine on a side of Killer Mac & Cheese ($2.95) vs. the entrée ($10), but she assured me should could handle the entrée. “Take everything on it off,” she told our server. “Except the cheese. And the macaroni.” More creative types can add toppings like tomatoes or chicken. 

After ordering, we absorbed the atmosphere at HopCat. The long bar took center stage, surrounded by high tables and elevated booths. (There are some regular tables for families needing high chairs.) To me, it harkened back to the 1970s with its preponderance of dark wood and orange, black, and brown booths. My daughter approved of our U-shaped booth, bouncing up and down and sliding out of it. 

Big portions please

The Pretzel Nuggz, served warm, melted in our mouths. I liked the salty, chewy outside and the soft, warm inside. The horseradish sauce was too tangy for us, but the cheese sauce was mellow and tasty.

My daughter’s Killer Mac & Cheese was rich and creamy, made with traditional elbows. The portion was gigantic; she ate about 25 percent before declaring herself full. (I knew we should have ordered the side vs. the entrée!)

My burger was humongous, a ½ lb of blended ground short rib, brisket and chuck. It was juicy and meaty, everything a burger should be. The mushrooms and Swiss complimented, rather than overwhelmed, the lettuce, tomato, and haystack onions. The brioche bun was soft. My side of crack fries (think cracked pepper, not illegal substances!) was delicious. I tasted salt, pepper, and perhaps Parmesan cheese, although our server stayed mum on their secret seasoning.

HopCat did not have desserts when we dined, but my daughter and I were too full from a satisfying meal anyway. Look for desserts to be offered soon.

The Short Course

Kid-friendly: More yes than no. It’s a bar, but kids are welcome with parents until 9pm.

To avoid wait: Go for lunch. HopCat is new and popular; our server said they were busy starting at 5pm each night.

Noise level: High.

Bathroom amenities:  No changing tables.

High chairs? Yes.

Got milk?  No, but soda and flavored water are available. 

Kids’ menu? No, although they offer grilled cheese, burgers, and macaroni and cheese.

Anything healthy for kids? Not really.

Food allergy concerns? Gluten-free items are not yet available, but in the works. Talk with your server or management about other concerns. They can cook food separately with clean utensils and advise you on ingredients.