Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hops and Brews: A New Taste of Comfort in Poblacion

Hops and Brews, located inside the 5 star I'M hotel in Poblacion, doubles as both a cafe during the day and a bar at night stocked with an extensive coffee and cocktail options. The restaurant is fairly new but you can already enjoy dishes from an all day, full restaurant menu as well - more on those later. The restaurant opens from dawn (8am) till dusk (2am) so guests can opt to spend the entire day at Hops and Brews, enjoying a warm cup of Cortado in the morning with a Longganisa Burger and then capping off the night with the finely crafted Copper 47.

It's difficult to categorize the type of cuisine they serve because the only common theme between dishes is flavor - expect quality food but at slightly steep prices. They serve a range of international favorites from Japanese-style Chicken Karaage, Spanish Callos, and even the Filipino-inspired 'Shalang Pares. 

Here's a bit more on our Hops and Brews experience....

Hops and Brews might be located right in Poblacion, a place not normally associated with peace and tranquility, but the moment you step in the restaurant it accentuates a contemporary cafe ambiance with soulful tunes played inside the restaurant during the day. At night, Hops and Brews transforms into a place for craft cocktails and hard core drinkers, where you can chill for a bit before calling it in. 

If you're a sucker for shrimps like I am, I recommend the Gambas Al Ajillo (Php 310) which consists of shrimp that's poached in olive oil with a nice garlic and chili kick. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to prawns and the classic combination of garlic, chili, and shrimps is one of my favorite combinations. 

The shrimps were beautifully cooked, with succulent and moist shrimps during every bite popping with flavors of chilli and garlic. It's a simple dish, but sometimes simplicity is all you need for a dish to be delicious. My only negative comment with this dish is it does seem a bit pricey. 

The Lamb Keso Fundido (Php 340) is, hands-down, my favorite appetizer from Hops and Brews because of how good the layer of bubbling bechamel, cheddar, and mozzarela tastes when paired with the ragout of lamb. People often fear lamb because it's often perceived as 'malansa' but I can assure you that this dish is so good without any 'malansa' aftertaste. It's served with a sunny-side egg and some crusty bread in olive oil.
  This dish is highly recommended - definitely worth every peso and it's a dish I would come back to try again.

The Chicken Karaage (Php 320) is Hops and Brews' take on this Japanese favorite - deep fried and breaded chicken breasts paired with their very own soy mayonnaise concoction. The chicken was not only flavorful but it was perfectly cooked - very moist meat inside and yet still quite crunchy on the outside.

If you try a bit of the chicken itself, you'd come to the conclusion that it's just another tasty piece of chicken reminiscent of Sincerity Cafe chicken. The magic happens when you start dipping it into the soy-mayonaisse dressing, instantly transforming this into a great dish that you just can't stop eating. It's another dish that's so highly recommended.

The Longganisa Burger (Php 345) is their take on this classic Filipino breakfast served in a Brioche bun with coleslaw and fried egg. It's tasty with the longganisa well-spiced and cooked medium-well but I personally don't find it's as good as what you'd get from Your Local

Nonetheless, the is still very tasty with a nice balance of flavors that feels like breakfast on a bun - a great option when you're craving for breakfast or brunch.

The Sardinas Aglio Olio (Php 360) might seem so simple but I think Hops and Brews serves one of the best plates of Aglio Olio I have ever tried with loads of flavor in every bite. I understand that it's not a dish that a lot of people would order because it's somewhat pricey for pasta and sardines, but I think it's worth it. The combination of spanish sardines, garlic, and capers sauteed in Olive Oil is such a classic that it's hard to go wrong with ordering this dish.

Trust me, you'll enjoy every bite of this and it's great for sharing. Highly recommended!

The Mac & Cheese (Php 320) from Hops and Brews is Rigatoni that's smothered with decadent mix of Pargigiano, Mozarella, Kefalotiri, and Cheddar. It's also topped with Applewood Smoked Bacon for a nice, salty kick to cut through all the cheesy decadence. 

This is one of the more kid-friendly options at Hops and Brews and it's another classic combination of bacon and cheese. It's very tasty, but I just love the Sardinas Aglio Olio a lot more. 

The Callos de Cerdo (Php 535) is made with crispy pork cheeks and ears served a la estilo Madrilena with garbanzos. It's a dish with a lot of texture and flavor as the crunchy pork pairs quite well with the creamy soup. I recommend you stir the soup for a bit before your first bite so that the dish is balanced beautifully. During my first spoonful, I wasn't impressed but after properly mixing it and eating the dish as a whole you get that sensation of delicious callos with crispy pork. 

I don't think it is as good as the callos from Terry's Bistro but I have to say it is tasty.

The Galbi Jjim (Php 625) is a house favorite of Hops and Brews because this Korean-inspired 18-hour sous vide Australian short ribs is served with kimchi fried rice and sunny side up egg. It reminds me of the Wildflour favorite Kimchi Fried Rice. 

I liked the sweet and salty kick of soft, tender short ribs and it pairs pretty well with the spicy hit of Kimchi rice. I'm not a fan of Korean dishes in general but I thought the Kimchi was quite subtle.

The 'Shalang Pares (Php 650) is the restaurant's take on this Filipino classic brisket stew that's served with garlic rice, roasted garlic, chili sauce, and bone marrow. It's a dish common to the Filipino carinderia so it was interesting to see how it could be elevated to a whole new level.

I have to say it's probably one of the best dishes all evening. It's very rich with a full umami kick that I highly recommend you eat it with a lot of rice and a lot of friends! I really love how packed with flavor it is and the bone marrow is just the icing on the cake. If you have a few hundreds to spare it's a tasty dish to share. 

The Matcha Semifredo (Php 265) is green tea ice cream molded with a black sesame brownie, contrasted with passion fruit jelly, and complemented with while chocolate creme anglaise. It's a nice Japanese-inspired dessert and he sour kicks from the passion fruit jelly helps cut through the richness of the white chocolate and the bitterness of the matcha. 

Black sesame and matcha are flavors that go together really well but I think the dish became a bit too sweet because of the white chocolate, despite the passion fruit jelly helping cut through some of that sweetness. Overall, I think it's pretty good dish to try and will satisfy your sweet tooth but I personally prefer the Fruity de Mare. 

The Fruity de Mare (Php 265) is a take on modern-day English trifle with butter cake macerated in amaretto syrup, layered with fruits in season, macerated berries, creme patisserie and whipped cream.

It's a very delicious dessert because of the classic combination of fruits and cream. Can't go wrong with that! Highly recommended! 

You can also get a Cappucino (Php 155) for your morning pick-me-up in Poblacion. It's not specialty coffee but I like how strong the caffeine is in the cup. If you love dark, rich cups of coffee then you'll love the coffee concoctions they have. 

Hops and Brews can also be a nice venue for a quiet night out enjoying signature cocktails made by their team of baristas. You can get the Swizzle (Php 360), for a sweet and fresh drink that contains passion fruit syrup, ginger juice, lemon juice, and gin, or you can opt for the Copper 47 (Php 670) for a more refined drink composed of Monkey 47, nutmeg infused gin, fresh lemon juice, and sous vide orange syrup.

For a classic drink, nothing beats a good old Mojito (Php 310).

Food Quality: 3.5
Service Quality: -
Ambiance: 4.0

Overall Quality: 3.5

If you're around the area and you're looking for good coffee, deliciously prepared dishes, or handcrafted cocktails, head over to Hops and Brews. I highly recommend a classic Cappuccino or an order of Flat White in the morning, Aglio Olio of a Galbi Jjim for lunch, capped off with a Copper 47 at night. 

It might not be affordable comfort food for most, but you get a sense that you're paying for quality. 

Further reading you might like:
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    Chef Jay

    Hops & Brews Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

    Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. The author did not pay for any of the dishes mentioned in this article. This, however, does not impair the unbiased opinion of the reviewer. 

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