Geoff Hopgood, from the now-closed Hoof Cafe, recently opened up Hopgood’s Foodliner, located in the middle of the Roncesvalles strip. The restaurant, named after his family’s chain of supermarkets on the east coast, features Maritime fare served in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.
Unlike many of the trendy new restaurants opening up in the city, Hopgood’s Foodliner takes reservations, which is a big plus. We called on a Wednesday and was able to snag the last table for two for Friday. They have some seating at the bar but I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk-in. During our dinner, we saw the hostess turn down a ton of walk-in parties.
We started with the Halifax Donairs ($14) which consisted of juicy sliced beef and pork served on soft, fluffy flatbread. It came with two donairs served on top of a brown paper bag which gave it that street food feel. The meat was nicely seasoned and topped with onions, tomatoes and a sweet white sauce made from evaporated milk. I can’t comment on the authenticity of these donairs but they were incredible! Incredibly messy too…
I love lamb and I love tartare so I figured ordering the Lamb Heart Tartare ($16) was the right choice. I was surprised when it arrived since it came with so many different components. First of all, the tartare itself was delicious! Packed full of flavour and not too gamey. Served with the tartare was a side of a cauliflower puree and an olive puree, both of which added another lovely layer of flavour to the tartare. Topping the tartare were small pieces of cauliflower florets which seemed to be fried, adding a nice bit of crunch.
I have to mention the generous portion of caramelized cream which was also served on the side of this dish. The server explained to us that heavy cream is cooked down until it’s caramelized. It’s then dried and shaved prior to being served. So, how did it taste? I really enjoyed it but I’m having trouble coming up with a description of how it tasted. Perhaps like sweet cheese?
For our last starter, we were debating between the hot crab dip and the Smoked Mackerel on Oatcakes ($10). The latter won out and I had no regrets. I really enjoyed the smoked mackerel which was moist and not too salty. Be careful eating this though as the oatcakes were very crumbly. I loved the combination of the fish, the house-made crème fraiche, pickled shallots and the sweet oatcake. However, we found that there was a little too much crème fraiche. A little goes a long way!
Since the starters sounded more appealing to us than the entrees, we only ordered one main, the Quarter Chicken – with grits and bacon sauce ($26). The chicken consisted of a boneless breast wrapped around a chicken thigh.
Even though the dish contained chicken breast, it was wonderfully moist as it was cooked sous-vide. After being cooked, it was deep-fried to give it a nice crisp exterior. A really great dish! The dish was quite substantial and was quite heavy from all the cheesy grits. It was a good thing we only ordered one entree to share.
Hopgood’s Foodliner only has two dessert options – a maple square or Crispy Toffee, both of which are $8. We decided to go with the latter since we had heard so many great things about it. This home-made chocolate bar is made from rice krispies, toffee, white chocolate and sprayed with dark chocolate. The dessert was served wrapped in brown paper stamped with “Hopgood’s Foodliner” on it. Cute!
At $8, it was a little steep for a chocolate bar but I can assure you, it was well worth it! I liked that it was a light dessert since our main was quite heavy. A perfect way to end an amazing meal.
Overall, I was really impressed by the food at Hopgood’s Foodliner. Every dish we had was delicious – well worth all the hype! If you’re thinking of dropping by, make sure you take advantage of the fact they take reservations.
At a glance:
- Opened by Geoff Hopgood, from the now-closed Hoof Cafe
- Serving up East Coast comfort food
- Located on the Roncesvalles strip
- Takes reservations
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 4.5 stars
- Service: 3 stars
- Atmosphere: 3 stars