Cheap Eats: Hops Grill and Brewery

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Where: Hops Grill and Brewery , 1155 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines, (954) 441-4599

What $15 Gets You: Smothered Chicken Marsala, side of vegetables, side of fries, and a drink of your choice.

The food at Hops wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It was standard. Keeping in mind that we had to stick to a budget of $15, our choices were limited. The grill menu was out of the price range, but honestly you shouldn’t expect to get a good 12 ounce steak for under $15.

I ordered the Smothered Chicken Marsala. The chicken was smothered in mushrooms, and I am not using the word smothered lightly. There was more mushroom than chicken. If mushrooms are your thing then you can’t go wrong with this dish. However, I think that even the most die-hard fungus fan would hesitate before diving in.

The chicken wasn’t bad; it had a nice texture to it but I can’t really describe the flavor. It tasted like, well, chicken. There wasn’t anything special to it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you have a hankering for chicken, but honestly for the $8 dollar price tag I expected something of a kick.

A friend of mine suggested that the amount of mushrooms on the chicken created the strange taste. I’m willing to bet that my friend is right. I mean the fact that I couldn’t even taste the cheese that was mixed in with the mushroom says it all.

I couldn’t taste the Marsala sauce either. All that I tasted was chicken and mushrooms, and neither was satisfying.

The fries were soggy but that could’ve been because the sauce was spreading through out the small plate. That’s another thing, everything was lumped together on a plate that was way too small, so everything started mixing. Would it have been so hard to put everything on a decent sized plate? Or use a smaller plate for the vegetables?

Admittedly, I don’t like vegetables but they were bland and tasteless. Unsalted white rice had more taste than these veggies.

The place’s atmosphere was pretty good. As you walk in, you get the feeling that you are actually in more of a tavern than a brewery. The fermentation tanks, however, for their beer brewed in house, are smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. It was a nice touch.

The Final Verdict: My friends said that the chicken wings, which you can also get for around $8, were good. If you’re under budget then I wouldn’t recommend “Hops.” If you can spend a bit more than $15 then by all means go. The atmosphere is a big attraction to the place, but the food is OK at best. I didn’t try the beer but my friends all say that it was great. I’m going to take their word for it. -- Elvis Ramirez

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