Hopscotch Bar is here, and you only have to stick your head over the simple little fence to see how quickly this has become Braddon’s favourite playground. With a gentle sense of fun, as well as some serious attention for food and drinks, there’s plenty of reason to stop in and take advantage of the light and airy interior, or the sun-filled beer garden out the front.
The menu, devised by co-owner and head chef, Nick Parkinson, brings a whole lot of meat front-and-centre thanks to a couple of innovative aspects of the cooking process. Firstly, as you enter from the street, take a look across the beer garden to the under the high wall. It’s a full spit rotisserie set-up, and lends itself to great winter nights huddled around the fire and watching the meat develop its wonderful flavours.
Secondly, the inclusion of an Argentine Grill to the kitchen is something few Canberrans will have experienced. Looking through the pass, diners will spot the set of grill plates that hover above burning red coals. The kitchen staff are constantly monitoring temperature, and winding the plates up and down to ensure the perfect flavour. It’s amazing to watch.
The perfect way to start is with some Buffalo Wings – always a fantastic snack along with a beer. The rich and sweet flavours of the marinade run deep, and the blue cheese ranch dressing sets a lovely contrast.
Mixed lentils make for a refreshing aside to the Chicken Skewers. Direct from the Argentine Grill, the flavour of the meat is moist and rich, with just enough caramelisation to provide the extra sweetness. That’s not all, though… the presence of sultanas also provides a sugary hit, lifting the dish and cutting through the wonderfully creamy labneh. There’s a hint of spice as well, that speaks gently to the heat of the amazing grill.
It’s not all American-style style cooking, though. The Korean Pork Bulgogi is a plate that delivers the best of North-Asian flavours, but with a robust style that clearly represents Hopscotch’s boisterous personality. Broad slices of marinated pork sit over the plate alongside kimchi slaw and trimmed shallots. It’s simple, it’s flavoursome, and the meat is so succulent it’s hard to believe it’s also spent time cooking over the coals of the kitchen.
The Burger with Jerk Chicken is a revelation. By using the marinating technique that has made Jerk Chicken such a favourite in recent times, the complex series of spices play nicely alongside the delicate flavour and texture of the juicy chicken breast. With slices of pickled eggplant and zucchini, capsicum, as well as a Chiplotle sauce, the flavour is subtle but filled with complexity.
This is just the start… we haven’t even got to the spit roast or any of the multitudes of offerings across the entire Hopscotch Bar menu. Oh, and the whiskey… and the wine… and the beer…
Oh, well… next time!