#255: Hop House

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Yesterday for dinner I was joined by family to check out Hop House, a new restaurant located in the Stone Point center on Eureka.  They are in the large space that was previously occupied by Early Toast (which seems to have moved over near Sierra College and Douglas behind Taco Bell).  As far as I can tell, this is only their second location; the other is in El Dorado Hills.

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I arrived at 5PM ahead of the others to grab a table and take a few photos.  It was <50ºF out which left the patio looking rather lonely, even though they had their gas heaters running. There are also some fire pit tables (not burning at the time), which will make this a really nice space to sit out on once the weather is nicer.

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I stepped in and was greeted right away and taken to a table just past the bar.  I then took a moment to check out the interior and tap list before my family showed up.  The place feels a lot more open with the removal of all the booth seating that was here before.  It is separated into two distinct sides.  The bar side has tall pub style tables and the other has normal height tables.  There is still curiously one booth, built into a little alcove near the entrance to the kitchen.

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The place is very warmly lit with Edison bulbs throughout, some of them with very intricate looking filaments.  The bar is lined with 16 taps, with a large board of signs describing each beer.  These will change frequently, in fact two of them changed while we were having dinner.  There looked to be a nice balance of different styles, including a few different stouts.

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(click to enlarge beer list)

Once everyone had arrived we ordered drinks and looked over the menu.  There are a lot of delicious sounding options, although I had already picked out a burger on Friday, after seeing a Facebook post featuring it.  Our beers arrived within a few minutes.  I had the Fieldwork Coconut Imperial Stout (10oz, 8%, $8), my dad had the High Water Campfire Stout on Nitro (10oz, 6.5%, $7) and my mom and grandma both had the Allagash White (16oz, 5.1%, $7).  Everyone enjoyed their beers and we finalized our orders soon thereafter.

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In just under 10 minutes we had our appetizer arrive, the Homemade Potato Chips & Dip (Roasted Onion Dip)[$6.99].  The chips were just out of the frier but cooled pretty quickly. They were fantastically crispy and were excellent for dipping in the onion dip without breaking.  This is impressive because the dip was very thick and dense.  There were chunks of onion throughout, so it was not completely blended to a smooth consistency.  The amount provided of this wonderfully rich dip was way more than needed for all the chips (not to say that we didn’t have enough chips, just that there was a ton of dip).

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A short 8 minutes after the chips had been delivered, our entrees followed.  3 of the 4 of us had ordered burgers.  My mom tried to set a healthier example with the Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breast (served with roasted baby carrots and Brussels Sprouts)[$14.99].

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My grandma ordered the Western Burger (bacon cheeseburger with BBQ sauce & onion rings)[$13.99] and my dad got the Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger (bacon burger with blue cheese and mayo)[$13.99].  The bun on both of these were quite large and didn’t allow the burgers to show off much other than some thick bacon sticking out the sides.

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My order was called The Exception (8oz Hop House Beef Blend with Extremely Thick Cut Bacon, American Cheese, Mayo and topped with a Sunny Side Up Egg)[$14.99].  They are not joking around when they say “extremely thick cut bacon”.  It was a photo of this burger and the bacon that caught my eye on Facebook last Friday.  The bacon is ridiculous.  Ridiculous.  I think if you set the beef patty and the bacon on two side-by-side scales that the bacon may outweigh the beef.  It was almost as thick as the patty itself.  One of the slices was close to 2 inches wide!

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I flipped the top bun over onto the burger and carefully picked it up, but before I had even taken a bite the yolk was dripping down onto my plate.  I knew this would be a bit of a challenge immediately.  A bit of a challenge became a slight understatement moments later as I made my first bite into the burger and its insane bacon.  The bacon, while fatty and tender and incredible, did not want to be bitten through so easily.  I ended up nearly pulling the one slice almost completely out of the burger on the first try, and this was my experience on every other bite after that.  With all the struggle to hold onto the bacon through the bun, it started to fall apart and I eventually had to settle for using a fork and knife.

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Difficulty of eating aside, this was just wow….amazing.  It was like having a thick slab of BBQ pork on my burger.  The smokey flavor was quite rich and powerful, it was delicious! I don’t know that the egg did a whole lot other than cause the bun to break down faster, but an egg on a burger is always fun in my book.  The egg white added some different texture in contrast to meat, meat and more meat in every bite.  The american cheese was a bit muted by the bacon, but just apparent enough to enjoy.

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I loved this insane burger, and I loved my coconut stout, and I loved the menu and all the things that I want to come back and try.  I wish I had room for dessert!  I will be back, and I recommend you check it out too!

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#251: Sugar + Cream

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After lunch yesterday, at Aria Kabob Cuisine in the Galleria food court, I walked a few tenants down towards Sears, where a little kiosk sits housing a local Ice Cream Parlor called Sugar + Cream.

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They opened up in June and serve 16 flavors each day (at least that’s how many are on display) in scoops, milkshakes and sandwiches (although the sandwiches are not explicitly on the menu, I’ve seen photos of ice cream macaroon sandwiches as well as donut [ponchiks? Google says they are Armenian donuts] sandwiches).  I stepped up and was greeted by a friendly person behind the counter who offered up a samples of any flavors I was interested in.  I asked for a sample of the Thai Tea ice cream and was given a real metal spoon with a sizable bite on it.

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It was fantastic, so I got 2 scoops in a cup [$5.50].  You can of course mix and match scoops.  I saw a kid after me get 3 different scoops which was visually quite interesting and colorful.  The colors are very vibrant.  $5.50 is a reasonable price, I think, considering how massive the scoops are.  I probably could have done with one after my filling lunch.  The two scoops towered over the rim of my cup.

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I love the Thai Tea ice cream that Gunther’s makes, but Sugar + Cream’s is just as good, and soooooo much closer than driving down south of 50 in Sacramento to their shop (edit: according to Facebook commenter Melissa, it actually IS Gunthers ice cream!).  I didn’t think to ask if they sell pints, but I’d probably keep my freezer stocked year round if they did.  I loved every bite of this, sitting at one of the handful of little tables nearby.  I suspect I’ll be finding reasons to head into the Galleria more often now so I can top it off with some tasty ice cream.

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Website: (no website, so here’s their Facebook page): https://www.facebook.com/Sugarpluscream/

 

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#249: Rita’s

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My excitement for Rita’s opening in Roseville is built on a foundation starting back in 2010, when I first tried frozen custard at a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in San Antonio, TX.  After that I was was always on the lookout for this incredibly creamy frozen treat, but only seemed to find it while traveling out of the area.  Rita’s isn’t exactly a local business; they have locations in 33 states.  Somehow I had missed the one nearby over in Rocklin until a few people pointed it out after my Buck & Sadie’s visit, where they have frozen custard that I found to be closer to regular ice cream.

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Our Rita’s, located at Sunrise and Cirby, opened just over a week ago, and I’ve been twice already, not including a trip to the Rocklin location a few days before they opened because I couldn’t wait ;). They have various flavors of frozen custard, and in addition to that they also have Italian Ice, all of which is made in store each day.  On my first visit I was going to just get a simple chocolate custard, but decided instead to try their signature creation, the Gelati.  It is a cup of your choice of custard with a layer of Italian Ice in the middle.  At the time they had a marshmallow peanut butter flavored ice that I picked out.  It was pretty amazing.  On my second visit (on opening day in Roseville) I picked up a chocolate custard to go, which was delicious, but I ended up getting busy with a project when I got home and did not get to enjoy it fully.

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Yesterday I returned to the Roseville location once again.  The Gelati is neat and I feel like you get a lot of both custard and ice in even the regular size [$3.99].  Although I am usually a purist and tend to shy away from toppings or mixing flavors or textures (such as their ice with custard), I do think the Gelati is the way to go here.  It’s the perfect amount of both custard and ice, and they aren’t blended, so you get to enjoy them together or separately, however you like it!

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This time I went with another peanut butter flavor, this time it was chocolate instead of marshmallow.  As I tasted a sample on a tiny spoon the girl behind the counter said that this one can be an acquired taste.  I did think it had a kind of artificial quality to it, compared to the marshmallow, but it was still good so I went with it.  I took a little video on my phone quickly while she added the ice layer, though it didn’t turn out very good through the glass with lots of reflections.

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This one was pretty much just as great as the original, and the proportions of custard to ice were the same as well.  Their custard is so rich and smooth that it’s hard not to take your time and enjoy each bite, even if you want to tear through it.  If you read my Vampire Penguin post from not long ago you may remember that I described their ice as being dry (not like CO2 dry).  Here, this ice is very much wet.  It is right on the verge of becoming a cup of liquid with just a little bit of added heat.  Breaking up the custard layers probably keeps this size from leaving you feeling full afterwards, since it is much lighter.

etr-249-ritas-007 If you like to do toppings then there are a lot to choose from and, like the ice flavors, may vary based on the day and what is fresh (particularly in the case of fruit I imagine).  You can of course get custard or ice all by itself, and then in addition to the Gelati combo, they have a Misto Shake which blends the two together, and then a Blendini which is the Misto Shake with a topping mixed in. They also have regular shakes and ice drinks.

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Definitely excited to have Rita’s in town.  If you’ve never had frozen custard before, do yourself a favor and go check it out!