Charming. That’s the word that came to mind the moment I stepped into Hopfields, a new central Austin bar on Guadalupe at 31st street. It’s a small place that’s large on atmosphere, vintage character with a modern twist. This place has only been open three weeks and already it has a following.
I had the chance to chat with the owner, Bay Anthon, and he told me Hopfields has been a true labor of love, involving the whole family. His wife was instrumental in the interior design and I think she did a fantastic job. The rustic dark wood seating, vintage mirrors, copper pendant lighting and cream colored brick walls evoke a comfortable warmth. The corner benches are actually reclaimed church pews found in Jarrell, Tx (how cool). There is also an inconspicuous and adorable little candle- lit room in the back, a great place to steal away for an intimate conversation. The owner also told me about the “secret door”, but since it’s a secret, I can’t tell you about it (otherwise I would have to kill you, of course).
Hopfields offers a wide selection of great beers on tap, including many local brews, as well as wine. They also serve several select cocktails and, according to my friend Calvin, they make the best sidecar cocktail he has ever had. I’ve never had a sidecar, but after enjoying a few of the drinks Calvin makes, I’d say the man knows what he’s talking about. So you might want to give that one a try.
Another aspect of Hopfields that I love is the food. The menu is distinctly French. The list of food choices is petite, but the flavors are anything but. Remember what I said about it being a family affair? Yeah, Bay’s mother-in-law was back cooking in the kitchen. Really. In fact, the menu consists of her family recipes which Bay told me they have been eating for years, but of course they have never been served in a restaurant before. Well, hats off to the chef – the food was great! I enjoyed her salad nicoise – soft, buttery greens with haricots verts (that’s green beans for you non-French folk), fingerling potatoes (that’s small spuds for you non-French folk), olives, tomatoes and hard boiled egg, topped with a generous piece of tuna glazed with a mustard sauce. I also tried their frites, French for french fries, with aioli for dipping – so tasty and completely addicting. I’ve also heard from another friend that their burger is fantastic – of course it has a French twist and absolutely that is what I am ordering for the next time. Already thinking about it.
So far there is not a happy hour, but Bay told me he’s not ruling out that possibility in the future. There is free wi-fi and it is a nice place to work from – where do you think I am while typing this? He would like to encourage work-at-home types to come in during the day, so he may offer specials in the afternoon. The place is still a work in progress, waiting for us Austinites to help it find its niche. And I am happy to oblige.