It’s been over five years since I ate at Hopfields. Located on Guadalupe bordering on the northern part of the UT area, sits a cozy little restaurant one can easily miss driving by.

They call themselves a gastropub, but that may not be an accurate description, as the food is far above “pub fare”. Do not be deceived just because there’s a bar when you first enter the space. The front area is pub-like, with wooden picnic tables shared with strangers; then, walk towards the back, and you’ll discover several alcoves of dining, all decorated with panache and quirkiness. Some used furnishings, a drape, velveteen-covered seats, abstract art and a long dining table to seat twelve.

Since the menu is scratch, thank you, that which appears on their website is just an example of the dishes and not reflective of what is on the menu. I went before showtime with friends, arriving early at 5:00 pm to give ample time for preparation. We decided to share three intriguing appetizers.

Escargot Dumplings grabbed our attention. Six little morsels made with miso and brown butter, sake, brown butter, garlic, and shallot served with baguette slices were a “nice” idea, but the dumplings were too thick and hardened immediately upon getting in touch with the air. I clipped off the top of the dumpling as it was hard to chew. The dumpling camouflaged the taste and texture of the escargot, and the buttery dip needed more miso for an umami event.

The Peaches & Burrata plate was served with local olive oil, a wonderfully thick balsamic, a small honeycomb, and baguette slices. The burrata was made to perfection and I’m curious if Hopfields made it themselves. There were two issues with this dish: there needed to be peaches. I can’t recall if it said peaches or figs on the menu, so forgive me if I got this mixed up. Yet instead of peaches, a measly portion of teeny weeny figs was cut into slices as if to serve at a children’s imaginary tea party. Go figure! The baguette slices with this dish had whey too much yeast and left a sour taste in my mouth. I asked the server to ask the chef if this was the case. Yes, he returned with a reply, but no ‘can I get you something else?’

The service could have been better for the quality of the food. I often find this in restaurants in town where there seems to be one central element that just doesn’t fit into the equation of a successful operation. In Hopfields case, One couldn’t forgive the lack of salt or a pepper grinder on the table. I had to ask for a pepper mill specifically. Why would that be in a French restaurant?  That’s a given. Spoons and other utensils were missing from the appetizers, as our group consisted of three. I also had to return a knife as it was unwashed. We asked a few questions about the origins of the food, and the server didn’t know. For the last of the appetizers, we had a dozen oysters.

I ordered  Steak Tartare, which came with, as tradition dictates, quail egg, dijon mustard, cornichons, and capers and crostini on the side for the main. This was a perfect dish and a good size. I had a smooth, rich glass of red Côte du Rhone to wash it down. My friends each had beef bourguignon and the confit duck salad with endives—no complaints from us.

As we awaited dessert, the sunlight from the back room blasted me into another chair. I was not in the mood to play musical chairs as I wore silk and didn’t want it caught on the wooden seats. There was no cover on the windows or door which is a shame. We ordered the chocolate mousse, and créme broulee. A-okay!

I will try them again in a few months to see if they’ve improved in the mentioned areas. From a former full-time food critic in Europe, I’ll give Hopfields a 3.5 -star rating out of 5.






By Elise Krentzel

Elise Krentzel is the author of the bestselling memoir Under My Skin - Drama, Trauma & Rock 'n' Roll, a ghostwriter, book coach to professionals who want to write their memoir, how-to or management book or fiction, and contributing author to several travel books and series. Elise has written about art, food, culture, music, and travel in magazines and blogs worldwide for most of her life, and was formerly the Tokyo Bureau Chief of Billboard Magazine. For 25 years, she lived overseas in five countries and now calls Austin, TX, her home. Find her at, FB: @OfficiallyElise, Instagram: @elisekrentzel, LI: