Happy Hour

Happy Hour of the Week: The Hopvine Pub

Service may be slow, but what you’re served is the real deal.

July 15, 2009

HOURS: 5pm-7pm daily
PRICES: $3 pints, $5 Apps

The Hopvine is one of those bars that inspires argument.

There are those around town who have written it (and its two sister bars Latona and Fiddler’s Inn) off—the service is often slow, can be surly, and is sometimes even stoned—not in a funny way, but in a “Dude, if it takes you three tries to remember what kind of beer I want, you need to stop smoking pot before work” way.

The tables, meanwhile, are bulky and ill-fit to the space, an issue when it is crowded and you’re trying to avoid butt rubs with strangers. You end up jabbing your sides with their hard edges. Ouch.

Why is the Hopvine then worth it? I’m often asked, right after I’ve breathlessly declared my ongoing love.

Well, there are a few reasons.

1. FOOD It’s “a lot better than it has to be.” I know I stole that phrase from Kathryn Robinson, I can’t remember if she was talking about Hopvine when she used it, but its applies perfectly. The soups are famous, but I’ve eaten everything on the menu at least once.

It’s all good.

A Hopvine turkey grinder—hot from the oven, where it admittedly cooks for what seems like half a lifetime—could hold its own in the red plastic baskets of the best sticky-floor sub shops of the Northeast, and yet it almost feels healthy. There’s no greasy aftertaste, no rubbery quality to the cheese, and the homemade relish is tart and crunchy in all the right ways. The garlic knots with marinara arrive warm and are spiked with boldy pungent hits of garlic. Then there is the pizza, and the nachos, and the gouda and artichoke sandwich.

Transcendent junkfood is what is served here, I’m not even exaggerating.

2. BEER People are always saying such-and-such bar “takes its beer seriously.” Ninety-five percent of the time this is bullshit. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Most bars just order whatever from microbrews whose brand name will cause people to buy them. The Hopvine takes its beer seriously. If there is a beer from Big Als or Anacortes or wherever, its going to be good. And fresh. And served at the right temperature, and at the right time of year.

3. HAPPY HOUR $3 pints that are actually worth three dollars, $5 appetizers that taste like real food, damn it. Among them: garlic knots, artichoke dip, potstickers, tapenade & pita, and hummus (homemade and seasonal) & pita.

If I tell you these things are worth sometimes (and, it must be said, not always) stupid service, will you believe me?

Because they are.

[Photo Courtesy Secret Agent Wang.]

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