Eating out is no longer just about pleasing your taste buds. Today, dining out has to be an experiential journey that satisfies your sense of sight, smell and sound (read live music or DJ playlist). So if you are someone who doesn’t want to just ‘eat’ and wants to have an experience that leaves a smile on your face, Hoppipola in Aundh is your go-to place. Let us assure, this bar-cum-casual dining space is happy, vibrant and quirky.
From the time you enter the small antique door, you get the vibe of a Moroccan village. The decor, the chairs and tables, the colour scheme, the paintings, etc make up the nomadic interior. A wall decorated with antique and colourful wall clocks, is certainly the highlight of the place and retains an old world charm, where youngsters love to spend time and have fun. However, the place also has graffiti, a bar and a big blackboard with quirky quotes giving it a contemporary touch.
Recently, Hoppipola introduced a new menu and made it more welcoming for all. The restaurant, which was popular for its drinks, cocktails and bar menu, has revived the food menu to add more variety to it, and has curated it around identifiable and regional flavours. When we were invited by the restaurant, which has a nice outdoor seating area and a cosy indoor seating place, we chose the outdoors to enjoy the evening breeze and the sumptuous food and drinks.
As we soaked in the vibrancy of the place, a catchy playlist comprising songs like Enrique Iglesias’ Tonight (I’m Lovin You), Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Despacito, Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, Major Lazer’s Cold Water (feat Justin Bieber & Mø) etc lifted our spirits higher.
And then the real spirits arrived! Cosmopolitan, also called Cosmo, a cocktail made with vodka, Triple sec (a type of liqueur), cranberry juice, and freshly squeezed or sweetened lime juice, was the toast of the evening. Giving us respite from the heat, it felt refreshing after a long day at work.
While still enjoying our drink, munchies like Smart Bhel Salad (made with watermelon, arugula and feta tossed with local rice crispies, crushed nachos and house dressing) and Time Pass Platter (made with Mumfali, Szechwan Channa Jor Garam Bhel Puri, Peri Peri Cheeslings) were served to kick off our meal.
What followed next was Chipotle Shroom Skewers, which was mushrooms stuffed with cheese and Thai Green Curry paste served with Chipotle Mayo. Sizzling Chicken Sukha, which was a Mangalorean chicken preparation, appealed to our taste buds too. What is interesting is that the dishes balanced each other well — while one was a flavourful non-vegetarian Indian dish, the other one was mild, cheesy and delicate in taste. We had Watermelon and Basil Mojito and Sangrias to go with the food.
At Hoppipola, you are spoilt for choice. From finger foods, to munchies, burgers, pizzas, South Indian dishes and flavours from the North — you can get everything here, of course with a twist and a quirky name.
For Maggi loyalists, a special surprise awaits them — Maggi Missiles, a type of cheese croquette (a small breadcrumbed fried food roll enveloping mashed potatoes or ground meat). Bite into it and you will find Masala Maggi and cheese in it.
Burger lovers must try Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burger (made of macaroni and yellow cheddar patty, sliced jalapeno and lettuce) here. It is filling and quite delicious. If you want some Puneri tadka and have been craving for Vada Pav, try Crispy Batata Buns (fried bun sliders stuffed with batata vada). You will enjoy this twist in the recipe.
Our endless love for potatoes made us try Naga Chilli Potatoes (handpressed crispy potatoes tossed in fiery bhut jolokia sauce). We were warned that the dish would be fiercely spicy, but we still decided to give it a shot and we certainly didn’t regret it.
Bhut jolokia, grown in the North-eastern region of India, is popularly known as ghost pepper or ghost chilli and is considered as the world’s hottest chilli pepper — 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, to be precise. But we had Rush Hour, a cocktail made with white rum which had a strong flavour of coconut and lots of ice in it, to help us soothe our ‘burning’ tongues.
For anyone visiting Hoppipola, missing out on Cheese and Olive Garlic Naangles, Cheesy Nachos Avalanche, Grilled Chicken and Arugula Pizza, Southern Spiced Crispy Prawns, Southern Spiced Crispy Prawns, Hide and Seekh Mutton Kebab and Classic Old Murg Tikka and Old Monk Chicken Wings, will be a big sin.
We wanted to eat light for the main course hence selected a thin crust Masala Pizza with cottage cheese topping in Indian flavour. And I must say, it was a perfect blend of spices, herbs and flavours.
Kulfi Panna Cotta with Bourbon Caramel was a perfect choice to end the evening on a sweet note. A fusion of the Indian Kulfi served with a type of chocolate and caramel sauce, the dessert made us head home with sweet memories and a lingering taste of chocolate in our mouth. Could we ask for more?