There are those restaurants that you know about because they are either highly visible from the street and/or highly hyped by advertisements and social media. Hence, there are no surprises when someone mentions them by name during a conversation. But there are some restaurants out there that barely anyone knows about unless you live nearby. Embarrassingly enough, I've lived near The Hop & Vine Taphouse (have you heard about it???) for around 7 years and as much as I knew about it, I never dared to walk in. Honestly, from the outside, it doesn't even look like a restaurant. It took an actual invite to their Man vs. Meat Father's Day Long Table Dinner to get me into the place.
Much like the one I had at The Pumphouse, there would be 5 courses with accompanying craft beer pairings. For $40.00 plus taxes and tip, you can't get much of a better deal than that. We started with the Chopped Salad consisting of grilled sweet & spicy pork loin served on chopped salad, crispy wonton strips and ginger dressing. The flavours were nice with a sweet gingery thing going on, yet it wasn't that spicy. As for the pork, it was pretty dry. This was paired with Two Beers Evolutionary IPA which I found to be quite smooth going down. Next up was the Italian Involtini which was a free-run chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella & wrapped with prosciutto atop a Parmesan risotto. I found the chicken to be really dry even with the cheese. The prosciutto was good though with a nice chew and saltiness. As for the risotto, it was overdone and quite salty. However, the pop of the sweet peas was nice. This was paired with an Odin Freya's Gold Kolsch Style Ale which had a lemony bite.
Onto the 3rd course, we had the Sticky Asian Baby Back Ribs glazed with an Asian BBQ sauce atop Asian slaw. Unlike the previous 2 proteins, this one was done right with moist ribs which still had a wonderful chew. The BBQ sauce was a bit sweet, spicy and just a touch of savouriness. The slaw was crunchy with a noticeable sesame oil hit, but could've used more acidity. This was paired with Two Beers Forester IPA which was my personal favourite as it just had "hit-me-in-the-face" initial taste. Doing it's best Montreal smoked meat impersonation, the Braised Smoky Beef Brisket with cabbage, onions and mustard, was fantastic. It was buttery soft while maintaining a bouncy bite. Eaten with the sweet cabbage, onions and a touch of mustard, it was a party in my mouth. This was paired with an Odin's Gift Ruby Ale. I found it to be full-bodied with some fruity notes.
Finally, for dessert, we had a Chocolate Cupcake with maple bacon frosting. For a taphouse, I gotta give them props for making one moist cupcake. It wasn't particularly chocolaty (despite the colour) while being only semi-sweet. There was just enough bacony sweet frosting to add some punch to the cupcake. This was paired with an Alameda Papa Noel Olde Ale which went well with the cupcake because of the chocolaty notes. As much as the meal started off slowly, it picked up and ended off on a high note. Sure, there were some issues with some dishes, but for $40.00 with 5 pints of beer, there was not much to complain about - other than staggering home afterwards...
- C'mon, for $40.00, this was a steal
- You get to meet some new friends
- Some proteins were dry