The Hop Knot Storrs had its grand opening Jan. 10, and while there are still a few kinks to work out, the restaurant-bar offers a fun change of pace for University of Connecticut students and the greater Mansfield area.
Located at 625 Middle Turnpike in Storrs, The Hop Knot is nestled next to Toast Four Corners in what used to be a banquet facility. With locations in Middletown and Southington already, the new Storrs installment represents the start of a greater franchising movement.
“Through an eﬀective franchise distribution model, The Hop Knot will provide terriﬁc ongoing support to its franchisees, and is projected to open 37 restaurants over the next ﬁve years,” The Hop Knot website says.
The menu obviously has a theme: Soft pretzels and craft beer, as the name suggests. But these aren’t just your run-of-the-mill pretzels. The restaurant offers stuffed pretzels, pretzel dogs, pretzel sandwiches and even dessert pretzels. It’s certainly a novelty niche idea, but The Hop Knot does it well.
When I visited the restaurant, I tried the caprese stuffed pretzel. I was expecting more of a calzone situation, but was presented with something resembling a cross between a bread bowl and a flatbread but made of soft pretzel. The center was filled with chicken, pesto, diced tomatoes and mozzarella. The pretzel dough itself was delicious, golden-brown with just the right butter to salt ratio. The pretzel was firm enough on the outside to keep the melting, oozy cheese contained but still soft on the inside. The pesto and tomato were obviously fresh and made the otherwise heavy dish a little lighter. I chose marinara as my dipping sauce, and it paired well.
The only complaint about the stuffed pretzel was that it was a little difficult to cut with a fork and knife, especially on the flimsy parchment paper it was served on- but was also too messy and greasy to pick up and eat with your hands.
I was also able to try the kielbasa “knot” dog and The Hop Knot pretzel sandwich. The kielbasa was served sliced in half in a twisted pretzel and also came with our choice of dipping sauce. While the dog was cooked perfectly in its pretzel “bun,” I would probably opt for the honey mustard sauce next time instead of the beer cheese.
The Hop Knot sandwich had layers of melted cheese, bacon, tomatoes and potato sticks on a pretzel bun. The sandwich had a good mix of flavors and textures, but the portion was small and it wasn’t served with anything besides a pickle.
We also ordered Oreo pretzels for dessert, but because of time constraints, we ended up not being able to get them. It’ll definitely be worth a trip back to try the sweeter side of things. Service was a bit slow but that was understandable considering they’ve only been open for a few weeks and are still hiring.
The restaurant itself is spacious. After a certain hour, it becomes a much more casual bar atmosphere. You place your order at the bar and can head to a side room to play any number of games, including classic board games, giant Jenga or air hockey.
While it might not be the most practical eatery to head to for dinner, The Hop Knot makes a great option for a casual lunch or a spot to hit up for a drink with friends after work or class.
“The Hop Knot is a Connecticut-based company that provides a fun and vibrant atmosphere of craft beers and gourmet pretzels. The model is fun, trendy and aﬀordable,” their website says. Their mission is “to provide a premier craft beer and gourmet pretzel bar featuring a variety of craft cocktails, board games and pretzel sandwiches!”
As they become more established in Storrs, the restaurant is beginning to offer specialty nights and deals, like Macaroni Mondays, trivia on Tuesdays and “Hoppy Hour” from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays with live music.
“Overall, we feel that the response to the new location has been perceived as a great local spot with a variety of craft beers and games,” Tyler McKenney, a representative from The Hop Knot Storrs, said on Facebook. “The Storrs community overall has been welcoming to the new business. We have had a variety of students, faculty and staff along with local families coming to enjoy all that Hop Knot Storrs has to offer.”
If craft beer and soft pretzels are your thing, The Hop Knot is definitely worth a try. It offers a unique substitution for the older, more typical college bars around campus and it will certainly be fun to watch them grow and become a part of the Storrs community.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Julia Mancini is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.