Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HopCat, East Lansing: A great night out on the town, fantastic food and a lot of beer

In my desire to show two single guys a fun time (my brother and his business partner), the kids and I decided to take them to campus to eat.  We chose HopCat, the new bar and grill on Ann, in the restaurant area of East Lansing.  We went early because children are only allowed in before 8pm.  My brother-in-law and sister-and-law and their kids joined us too.  I am going to write about this restaurant from two different fronts:  night out on the town and family dinner.

Night out on the town:  This place is fantastic!!!   To start you off there are 100 beers on tap!  The largest amount in the state, check it out!  There are also two other HopCats, one in Detroit and one in Grand Rapids so we can share the fun!

They are all microbrews including the Michigan local brews.  Don't ask for a Bud Lite here, you will be disappointed. However, if you love beer this is your place!

I went with the local, of course, a  Shorts Brewery Heifeweizen, the Beach Wheat.  My sister-in-law got a grapefruit ale.  Super yummy!   Another fun part is that they are actually served in the proper beer glasses. We all had a different glass based on the type of beer we ordered, either a pint glass, weizen, lager or tulip.

Family dinner:  pop, juice and  lemonade are the choices.  Because it is a bar don't ask for milk!  And sadly for my daughter, they did not have root beer.  Her response was,"but they have beer here, why not root beer?"

We ordered their pretzel nuggtz for an appetizer.  They come with honey mustard and  cheese.  The cheese was so good!!   We had an issue with double dipping on the kids end because they loved the cheese so much!  There was also quite a bit of grabbing when it came to the last few nuggtz.

Their menu is simple but creative.  Traditional bar food with a flare!  For appetizers you can go traditional with the pretzel nuggtz, the secret recipe beerbar cheese or wings or you can go crazy with sausage chipotle Munster cheese dip, bruschetta or even mussels!   They also have soups and salads for a meal or supplement.

The meal menu is so fun, I had a very hard time deciding what to order.  They have Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork, seen here with their loaded "crack" fries (of course my brother had to get them loaded).
Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork
The "crack" fries have a special blend of seasoning on them.  I have to say they are very good and even my picky eater couldn't get enough of them.  You can also get them with chili or sloppy with their signature sloppy Joseph and cheese.
My sister-in-law ordered the quesadillas, that are not your ordinary variety kind, they have chicken, chipotle black beans, spinach and cheese.  Served with pico and sour cream.   SO good!!!!
My brother- in-law got their Grand Royal Sandwich.  Their Sloppy Joseph meat with jalapenos, and beer cheese sauce topped with crack fries in a brioche bun and smothered with more beer cheese!!! WOW is all I can say!! That is one crazy good sandwich!
Grand Royal Sandwich
I was so busy taking pictures of everyone else's food before they ate it, I forgot to take a picture of my own meal.  So you will just have to take my word, that it was well presented and super yummy.  I ordered the Porter Braised Beef, beef braised in beer and topped with haystack onions and a blue cheese, black pepper mayo.  I took a chance on this one out of sheer curiosity.  If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of blue cheese (one of the only things I really don't like) but sometimes you need to see what a good culinary mix can do.  I was very happy with my decision.  This sandwich was awesome!!!  The meat was tender and the blue cheese gave the mayo tanginess that added just the right amount of flavor for the beef. And of course who doesn't love haystack onions.  I was a very happy girl!  

They have many other great options such as the HopCat BLT, Bacon , lettuce and tomato with the blue cheese black pepper mayo on lite rye (my choice at the next visit).
HopCat BLT
Or I might try the Damn Good Fish Sandwich.  House blended spicy seasoned tilapia on a brioche bun with house tarter (my son ordered this and so I got to try some).  I am a tarter sauce snob and I really liked their blend.  I also liked that they left everything on the side so the sandwich did not get soggy prior to eating from the tarter or the tomato.
Of course, all sandwiches come with the "crack" fries and you have a choice to add another side of something like the mac and cheese or a soup for an additional cost.
Damn Good Fish Sandwich
For family dinner night, you need to know that because they are primarily a bar, there is no kids menu. However, they have no issue with splitting meals and they have fantastic macaroni and cheese!  You have the option of ordering it plain as seen here (that is half the portion, the other half is on my other daughter's plate), or you can add additional items to it like chicken, sloppy Joseph, bacon, chorizo, pulled pork, or veggies.  (any two items for an additional $3).

Now don't worry they also have burgers, because there is no way to have a bar without a burger!!!  You can go with The Classic, with your choice of cheese on a brioche bun or you can try one of their signature burgers, the I Love Olive, which is topped with the special olive sauce, swiss and blue cheese, or the Cowboy, jalapeno, pepper-jack, bacon and BBQ.  They also have a turkey burger and a vegan patty.
There is a little for everyone here.  It is a great place to go on a date or out with friends.  I even think it is a good place for a family to go.  My kids loved it and it is not too noisy.  One thing I will say is if you have a son, you may want to encourage him to use the family restroom.  They Men's room is papered with Playboy covers.  That lead to quite a lot of laughing at our table after my son went to wash his hands. The Ladies room has Cosmo and Vogue instead.

We had a great night at HopCat and we were all happy!!!
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