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    Bengaluru’s popular hangout, Hoppipola, finally opens its doors, with quirky interiors and plenty of nibbles to keep you busy

    My friend exclaims, “I have never seen this place so well-lit,” as we enter the newly-opened Hoppipola at The Spring Hotel. She’s visited its predecessor (Star Rock) and takes in the cheery decor with delight. I’m just relieved the music isn’t so loud we need to scream to converse and the bookshelf has actual books that you read. That of course is the point of Hoppipola, (Icelandic for “jumping into puddles”) the Speciality Restaurants brand that has found success in Bengaluru, Pune and Mumbai, and is moving to Kolkata next.

    Get the idea
    “The idea is to take you back to your school days,” Lloyd Rodrigez, senior executive manager, explains. There are board games and drinking games to be played, a wall of old music systems called the “Door to Heaven” where if you’re lucky you can win a free shot or gift, and pets are welcome on Mondays. The vibe is mellow and fun and the place is definitely worth a visit, with prices that don’t make you wince. Still, careful ordering is needed. The signature cocktails are fruity and sweet but there are some quirky numbers: the Tamarind and Ginger Mary is delicious with a nice punch of chili and they do a decent Classic Margharita. If sweet drinks are your thing, the watermelon and basil mojito is a good option.

    Testing, tasting
    Food is another potential minefield. The Aila Aioli (chicken skewers with aioli sauce) is dull, the chicken barely flavourful and the aioli basically mayo with chili flakes. The Harissan — basa with harissa spices — is mouth-numbingly spicy. What you should try: OMG (crumb fried cheese mushroom balls). It starts off spicy but levels out with the cheese and then the mushroom hitting towards the end. The Chiseled Prawns (prawns tossed in basil and aglio olio) are juicy, and delicately flavoured, while the Paneer Bujaya Patty (paneer patties on toasted bread with mint sauce) are addictive. The pizzas and Brit-pub-ish mains (roast chicken/fish and chips) are competently done.

    Meal for two with alcohol should cost approximately Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000. A pint of Kingfisher costs Rs 140. If you’re not in Chennai, tag your friends within Chennai on their Facebook page, telling them why you love Hoppipola. The best testimonials will win a free pitcher. Details: 40509999

    Ranjitha Gunasekaran

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