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Dining out: Hoppers Seafood & Grill

Published: Friday, March 19 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

Perhaps, as a teetotaler, I'm the wrong person to enjoy Hoppers Seafood & Grill.
My neighbors go there occasionally to enjoy a pint of Hoppers' orange honey wheat beer, one of the establishment's eight "award-winning hand-crafted" beers on tap. When a friend and I dropped in on a recent weekend evening, we had soda.
It was good soda, also "hand-crafted" on the premises. The Righteous Root Beer was a barely sweet yet very spicy concoction that tingles in your mouth and throat and leaves a strong, almost minty aftertaste. The "Supreme Cream Soda" was smooth and creamy, with a hint of spice.
But the food was a mixed bag. We started with the brew cheese and the sampler platter — calamari, fried zucchini, hot wings and shrimp. The brew cheese was interesting and unusual, a sharp, melted blend of Gorgonzola and smoked Gouda cheeses with two kinds of bread for dipping. It was good with the white baguette-style bread and better with the rye-wheat slices.
The best of the sampler was the calamari and the fried zucchini. If you enjoy calamari, you'll like Hoppers' version, which includes plenty of large, round bites and small whole squid. The baby squid were tender, but some of the larger bites were a little too chewy.
Calamari lovers may miss the traditional marinara for dipping, but the sampler platter includes four dipping sauces — ranch, blue bleu cheese, jalapeno mayo and hot and spicy dip — and each was good. The platter also includes long thick-cut planks of zucchini dipped in dilly batter.
The hot wings were too fatty, even though you expect some of that with wings, and the shrimp would have been tasteless without its batter.
For dinner, my friend had the fish — she chose halibut — and chips. The fish featured the same dilly batter I enjoyed on the zucchini, and the halibut tasted fresh but a bit oily. The fries were average.
I had the chicken piccata. Although the sauce was good — tasting of lemon, garlic and butter with plenty of capers — the chicken was tough and stringy. The accompanying twice-baked potato was so overdone I couldn't eat the skin; couldn't even cut it. And the interior of the potato was an oily gunk.
The other accompaniment to my meal was sauteed summer squash and mushrooms. It's kind of an odd-tasting pairing, even though the chefs tried to marry the flavors using garlic. Each tasted fine on its own, but together they were less than the sum of their parts.
Our desserts were fine. We tried the bread pudding, sort of like gooey French toast crossed with apple-less cobbler, with lots of whipped cream and a sugary topping. We also had the chocolate-chip cookie, a big cookie in a hot skillet with vanilla ice cream on top.
Our server was friendly and seemed knowledgeable about the menu, but the service was spotty. We waited too long for refills on our drinks, and things were forgotten, or never brought when asked for. We waited more than 15 minutes for our check.
As I said, I'm probably not the intended patron of Hoppers. Maybe if you're there for the brewskis, which by all accounts are quite good, you're willing to forgive the place's deficiencies.
Appetizers, $4.99-$9.99; soups and salads, $2.99-$9.99; burgers and sandwiches, $6.49-$8.99; entrees, $6.99-$14.99; pizza, $8.99-$10.49; kids' meals, $3.49; desserts, $4.29-$4.99.


Rating: **
Where: 890 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday ,11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Phone: 566-0424
Payment: Checks, credit cards
Reservations: None taken


Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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