Venues and events

The Hop Factory

HF_brandmarkThe Hop Factory
102 Darby St, Cooks Hill, Newcastle

When it comes to venues that offer both craft beer and good food, my experience is that they usually tend to resemble bars rather than restaurants. Sure, they’re classy-looking bars with their old, well-loved, yet somehow not at all decrepit-looking furniture, or with their birdcages hanging from the ceiling (seriously, what is it with birdcages?) but they still present as though they’re a beer venue that happen to do food.

And that’s what I was expecting when I turned up for dinner at the Hop Factory in Darby St, Newcastle with my family last month. That expectation was fine with me – it was my birthday and I’d picked the venue for my birthday dinner. So I was more than a little surprised to walk in and see that it looked very much like a fancy dining establishment.
Out the back there’s a section that has a bar and to me, the phrase ‘‘food court’’ popped into my head when I walked out there. But the front section, man, that was just lovely.

I didn’t plan on reviewing it, so I didn’t take any photos for the blog. And I couldn’t find any photos online that I could steal. Sorry, I meant ‘‘appropriate for my own purposes’’. So I have to rely on my memory here.

The decor is simple but stylish – white walls, black furniture. The beer list was fine indeed, even though I had already tried most of them before (I can be one of those annoying times for whom a new beer trumps a good beer that I’ve had before). But the food pretty quickly made me forget about all that. It was a proper dinner and the restaurant felt far too fancy to order any of the burgers on the menu, so I opted for the sticky pork belly with BBQ king prawn, petite herb and green salad. And it was great – well cooked with some lovely sweetness from whatever sauce/marinade/coating was making it sticky (Yes, I suck at writing food reviews).

My wife opted for the house made potato gnocchi, which she rated highly as well. That alone was enough for me to give the Hop Factory two thumbs up. The way it usually goes when my wife and I go out for dinner is at least one of us will find their meal less impressive than the other. But for both of us to be impressed with our dishes, well that hardly ever happens.

The fact that it’s all decently priced – mine was $28 – made it an excellent choice for my birthday dinner. And I’m so, so, so glad that my wife didn’t arrange for the staff to bring out a cake and sing happy birthday – I hate that stuff.

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