The newest drinking spot to open in Canberra is Hopscotch located at 5 Lonsdale Street in Braddon. I could see the neon arrow pointing to the bar from Cooyong Street. Hopscotch’s name comes from the bar selling both hops (beer) and scotch (whiskey). And there is a lot of scotch whiskey in the drinks menu – Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, French whiskey, so much whiskey! There are also wines, beers, ciders and a short cocktail list.

The first thing you see is the large outdoor beer garden with wooden picnic style tables and sun umbrellas. Hopscotch will be hosting Sunday sessions with a whole pig/s roasting outdoors. Ahh this is going to be great in summer!

I like the large mural outside above the BBQ pit where I’m assuming the whole pig on a spit will be roasted. The Canberra Times reports the mural was created by a 16 year old street artist.

Green foliage peeks through above the bi-fold windows providing a glimpse of nature before opening up onto the beer garden in the warmer months.

The long bar to the side displays a glorious array of whiskey and spirits.

Art work is dotted around the bar. I like this one of a firefighter near the entrance.

There’s a slight warehouse feel with a mix of exposed piping and brickwork, aluminium sheeting, large downlights and the colour scheme used. But it still remains cosy and hip.

The black back wall shows off the Hopscotch sign.

The menu (available on the Hopscotch website) is inspired by everything BBQ with an Argentine wood-fired grill imported from the US. The menu states a mixture of iron bark and red gum is used to impart a light smoke flavour to meals. There are bar snacks available if you just want something small or a whole list of mains, sides and desserts. There’s no indication of gluten-free options so better check with the staff.

Orders are taken at the bar. When I asked whether mocktails could be made, it was a general ‘no it’s not on the menu’ which was disappointing. It’s not that hard to mix soda and juice – oh well. There are cups and jugs of water at one end of the bar which you can help yourself to. After placing our food order, it only took about 15 minutes for our entree to arrive. A friend and I shared the Tajin spiced calamari ($15) with kimchi slaw and fried onions. These are large cuts of delicious, soft and fresh calamari, not your usual small rings. I loved the light coating of spices which didn’t over power the calamari and allowed the natural calamari goodness to shine through. I enjoyed the crunchy kimchi slaw that has a real kick to it.

I ordered the Jamaican jerk chicken with jalapeno corn bread, pineapple salsa and avocado ($27) for my main. This huge chunk of chicken was succulent and slightly charred on the outside. The corn bread had sliced jalapenos and cheese melted on top – spicy but I liked it. The pineapple salsa was divine providing a hit of fresh sweetness to the dish. Yum!

My friend was happy with her Argentine slow cooked brisket with red chimmi churri, soft maize and smoked eshallots. A large slab of meat that she didn’t end up finishing.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Hopscotch. The vibe is lively with people enjoying an after work drink and there’s enough space to sit comfortably. It is a gastropub so expect it to be a little noisy inside, particularly with live music playing every weekend. All tables were taken by around 7pm so it’s certainly popular already! The menu looks good and I’m keen to go back for a Sunday session and to try out more dishes from the menu.

*Edit – 14 August 2014 – So I went back for more food! This time I decided on two bar snacks for dinner rather than a whole main. I chose the honey mustard glazed pork with fennel scratchings and a side of ranch dressing ($15). Large chunks of mouth watering succulent pork – wow! It’s coated in its own fatty oil (you’ll notice a bit of oil soaking up the paper at the bottom of the basket) but it’s so tasty you won’t care. The scratchings are crunchy and perfect. Delish.

The wood-fired crab and corn quesadilla with avocado, sour cream and salsa ($16) comes in a serve of two. The quesadilla is served warm and filled with what seems like creamed corn with a hint of crab. I layered on the avocado, sour cream and salsa as it just didn’t have enough flavour for my liking.

My friend who would like to be referred to as Mr STTA ordered the gluten-free version of the warm lamb salad consisting of pulled lamb, BBQ vegetables, fetta, roquette and gremolata vinegar ($18). He really loved this and mentioned it was something simple made extremely well. Staff are still learning the ropes so it took a few minutes for them to figure out if it could be made gluten-free or not but they’re very friendly and happy to check.

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Foodgasm 7.5/10
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