Tag Archives: beer

Texas may be bigger than France, but…

18 Dec

beers on tap at Hopfields

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.

a creamy pint - yum

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.

Hopfields on Urbanspoon

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Happy Hour doesn’t get any simplier than this

3 Dec

One evening I decided to stick close to home and called up my good friend Melissa Skorpil, who also lives in my hood, to join me for a happy hour.  We decided to check out Simplicity Wine and Eats, one of the fun establishments on Burnet Rd.  We showed up at 5:30 and the place was pretty empty.  But that soon changed and as the sun went down, the atmosphere went up.  Nostalgic tunes from Depeche Mode were playing overhead, though not too loud so we could actually hold a conversation – what a concept.  Folks started filing in, with a  group of about 15 lively people pushing tables together to create their own party.  Simplicity has a modern and simplistic feel to it, nothing pretentious.  It lacks a little in style compared to other wine bars I’ve been to, but is very comfortable and functional. 

The one thing that I admire about this place and helps it stand out from the crowd is their philosophy of creating an almost zero waste restaurant.  On their website they state that “we compost all of the disposable dishes and utensils (made of renewable corn & bamboo) & we recycle all our wine and beer bottles. Simplicity is a 100+ seat restaurant that only produces 3 bags of landfill trash per week!”  Really??  That is amazing to me because I know of a two person household, well…really a two person, two cat, two dog, two turtle and one gecko  household, who produces about the same amount!  So either they are really eco-friendly or we, um, I mean the other people, are completely wasteful.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say both are probably the case.  But I digress…

The point is that Simplicity is really trying to do their part in helping the environment and I can really get behind that idea.  Their happy hour is Tuesday through Friday, 4 to 7 pm, and offers half off of all starters, $5 wines by the glass, 15% off of all bottles of wine, $2 for all bottles or drafts of beer and $5 pitchers.  We opted for a pitcher of Blue Moon, which is the equivalent of 3 beers for only $5.  That is pretty darn cheap!  We also got a couple of appetizers, the spinach artichoke dip and papas aioli (thick cut potato wedges with garlic aioli dip).  The food here doesn’t have a decadent appearance since it is served in disposable bowls and plates with disposable utensils, but the dip was very fresh tasting and the potatoes were yummy.  The prices are very reasonable and really fantastic during happy hour – our pitcher of beer and two starters cost up a whopping $11!  Seriously.

Simplicity Wine and Eats

photo by Melissa Skorpil

Melissa and I had a great time and we both agreed that Simplicity Wine and Eats is worth coming back to.  Melissa, who is a photographer, brought along her camera and took a shot of me enjoying the beer.  Melissa is a great photographer and she specializes in portraits and food photography-handy for me to have a food photographer as a friend for this blog, eh?  If you’re interested in learning about Melissa’s photography services, view her website, Skorpil Photography.

Until next time, get happy Austin!

Simplicity Wine & Eats on Urbanspoon

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