Hops N Scotch

December 18th, 2012 by Richard Chudy

It was the burger that almost wasn’t. I had dinner at the relative Coolidge Corner newcomer Hops N Scotch over the summer with mixed results. More recently we found ourselves in the neighborhood on a weeknight for a few cocktails, and me not being the kind of guy who can ever refuse ordering a burger I haven’t had, dove right in to what I anticipated to be an ordinary burger. It’s not due to a lack of hype or accolades, but the Hops N Scotch burger just doesn’t sound very exciting, especially for a place that has an interesting Southern spin on a lot of their dishes. Why no love for the burger though? I had dreams about a Pimento Cheese topped patty with fried green tomatoes and maybe some Cajun spiced fries. Some sort of twist would have been preferred, but I digress. After talking it over with our fine bartender, I was informed that I could in fact have the burger with pimento cheese, in lieu of traditional options such as cheddar or American. Pimento cheese, for the uninformed, is a Southern staple that is basically a cheese spread (usually sharp cheddar) mixed with roasted red peppers and mayonnaise.  It could be spiced further or it could be as straight-forward as that. Additional add-ons such as a fried egg and bacon are also available for $2 a pop.

The burger appears as normal as a burger can get, with a cone of fries on the side; there isn’t much to judge based on appearance alone. But looks can be deceiving, as I quickly discover a well prepared and properly seasoned burger that is pleasurable if not mind-blowing. I was informed that they apply a spice rub on the patty itself (containing a few dry spices and mushroom powder) but that is entirely undetectable. The beef is slightly robust and beefy without hitting you over the head with a sack of suet like some other burgers are. It is simple but because it’s seasoned and cooked the way it should be, it’s very much a success. The pimento cheese adds a nuance of tang that is most welcome and different, and melts much better than I thought it would. A brioche bun is a minor stumbling block; it is warmed but not buttered and has an inherent sweetness that offers no benefit to the burger. It’s too crumbly but overall isn’t too large for the patty like brioche buns often are. The fries are perfectly salty and crispy. Again not offering anything different (a missed opportunity in my opinion) but executed the right way.

For $13 you get an above-average burger that is completely enjoyable if not unlike other nondescript burgers around town. Compared to other neighborhood gems such as Lineage and Washington Square Tavern (some would argue The Abbey) it’s basically a less exciting burger at a very similar price point. But sometimes all you need is a well-cooked and well-seasoned burger to get you through the night. It’s definitely a burger I can recommend and is completely tasty; just don’t expect too much more than that.

Overall Score: 82

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