Home » Restaurant Review » Hopscotch Tavern in Downtown Fullerton, post Cody Storts era
Hopscotch Tavern in Downtown Fullerton, post Cody Storts era
Hopscotch Tavern Exterior Sign

Hopscotch Tavern in Downtown Fullerton, post Cody Storts era

Visiting Hopscotch Tavern, Post Cody Storts

A Season for Change, Drama at Hopscotch Tavern

Two years ago, Hopscotch Tavern in Downtown Fullerton was one of the hottest restaurants in Orange County. Chef Cody Storts and his team called “Culinary Militia”, developed the menu and launched Hopscotch’s reputation as a foodie destination.

Hopscotch Tavern Exterior Sign

Hopscotch Tavern Exterior Sign

A little drama occurred this summer between the owners and Chef Cody Storts /Culinary Militia. Based upon a published interview in OC Weekly, Chef Cody Storts indicated there has been long running issues between the owners and the kitchen team. The visible result was the Head Chef and kitchen team quitting in short order. See the original interview with Anne Marie from OC Weekly here, and pay attention to the comments.

Hopscotch Tavern interior Whiskey Drinking Sign

Sign from inside Hopscotch Tavern, seems appropriate with the drama

Details are a bit he shady, but it sounds like the owner had to start over with a new chef and kitchen crew. Some of the dishes that made Hopscotch famous are still on the menu, although there is definitely a shift on the menu and execution.

I recently visited Hopscotch to investigate if the food still good at Hopsscotch Tavern? A successful entrepreneur can bounce back from these issues and even improve. How did Hopscotch do?  Let us find out together.

Hopscotch Tavern Exterior

Hopscotch Tavern Exterior

What we tasted at Hopscotch Tavern

The food is still modern American with a slight artsy rustic appeal.  The menu is small and organized by clever titles like “From the Dirt”, “From the Farm.”

Hopscotch Tavern menu Dinner

Hopscotch Tavern Dinner menu

Cheese and Charcuterie Board

The Cheese and Charcuterie board was very impressive due to the quality of cheeses, meats and sides.  There is nothing worse than ordering a cheese board to discover a micro slice of cheese and a teaspoon of jam. Hopscotch gave us enough cheese to share among four people. 

Hopscotch Tavern Charcuterie Board

Hopscotch Tavern Charcuterie Board

We had a blue, goat and I think sharp cheddar. The board also came with slices of chorizo, bar nuts, raisined fruit, olives, pickled onions, pickled cauliflower, and of course toast.  For a price of  $14, this was a good deal.

 

Mac and Cheese

The Mac and Cheese was a favorite of the table. It is made with gruyere, white cheddar, and pancetta. I liked the creaminess of the mac and the pasta had the right firmness. The bread crumbs on top added a nice flavor and texture contrast. $14

Hopscotch Tavern Mac N Cheese

Hopscotch Tavern Mac N Cheese

Bleu Cheese Burger

The Bleu Cheese Burger is made with Danish bleu cheese, bacon onion jam, wild arugula, tomato confit, garlic aioli. The Bleu Cheese Burger was ordered by two or my table mates, because they had heard Hopscotch had good burgers.

Hopscotch Tavern Bleu Burger

Hopscotch Tavern Bleu Burger

The verdict, this burger was very good, but a missed opportunity. The flavor layering of the burger was perfect. The blue cheese played a key role in the flavor profile,  although it did not take over the palate. The bacon onion jam was delicious and the arugula, tomato confit and garlic aioli all added something to the overall song.

Hopscotch Tavern Bleu Burger Cut Open

Hopscotch Tavern Bleu Burger Cut Open

The issue is that the chef overcooked both burgers. We requested both burgers at medium and medium rare, unfortunately they were cooked well-done. Fortunately the meat itself was very juicy, despite the over-cooking. The oils from the  blue cheese saved the day.  This burger  was good, but it could have been great.  

Hopscotch Tavern Hand Cut Fries

Hopscotch Tavern Hand Cut Fries

The burger also came with a large plate of hand cut fries. I loved the fries. The only major is that the fries were over salted and I tasted the salt more than the potato. I ended up wiping off the salt from the fries; this was a slightly annoying inconvenience. $13

Seared Duck Breast

The seared duck breast is prepared medium-rare and ir has a really nice flavor. The meat itself was a tad fatty, making it hard to trim off the excess fat with the tableware. Once I removed the excess fat, the duck was very impressive. I liked the sea sour cherry jus, which was sprinkled over the duck as it provided a deeper flavor to the meat.

Hopscotch Tavern Seared Duck Breast

Hopscotch Tavern Seared Duck Breast

The accompaniments to the duck were both phenomenal. The polenta mash is made with mascarpone, resulting in a wonderfully creamy and smooth texture. My friend Stacy said, “I can eat this stuff by the mug.” The Brussels sprouts were also impressive with their caramelized exterior and slightly crunchy texture. $24

 

Hopscotch Tavern Mascarpone Polenta and Brussels Sprouts are sides to the duck

Hopscotch Tavern Mascarpone Polenta and Brussels Sprouts are sides to the duck

Tri Tip

A beautiful cut of tri tip was served with a very delicious roasted cauliflower, bourbon raisin romescu sauce and almond slivers. Although this dish looks great, the tri tip meat itself had issues. 

My brother requested the tri trip be cooked medium. Although our waitress dutifully told us that the restaurant only cooks the steak medium-rare, so that it does not get tough. Whenever I hear this, either they nail it or they fail at it.  In this case, it was the later. 

Later during dinner, I noticed that hewas not eating much of the tri tip.I asked him, “what’s the deal, don’t you like it?” He responded, “It was too tough and too rare.” I tried a piece to verify that he was not being a dandy with his food. I literally looked like an ox, rotating my jaw to break down the meat. He had to cut his meat into toddler sized portions to make it chewable.

Hopscotch Tavern tri tip

Hopscotch Tavern tri tip

His first bite from the end piece was medium (pictured), although as he worked his way to the center, it got rarer and rarer. Consequently, the meat also became tougher and tougher.  I will skip the tri tip next time. 

Cocktails at Hopscotch Tavern

Overall, we enjoyed the cocktail program at Hopscotch Tavern. We tried three of their signature cocktails, two were great and one was too sweet and had to send it back. I like the impressive collection of brown liquor, especially their library of whiskeys. The craft beer selection was also impressive, with a focus on local breweries. I would definitely order their craft cocktails again. 

Hopscotch Tavern Cocktails

Hopscotch Tavern Cocktails

Ambiance

The Hopscotch Tavern building is a historical building that has been reclaimed as a restaurant. The interior is very rustic with exposed wood beams, wood slat walls and upscale Appalachia décor. The wall behind the bar showcases their impressive collection of whiskeys and brown liquors. My favorite part of the décor are the stuffed animal heads. 

Hopscotch Tavern Interior

Hopscotch Tavern Interior

My Final Thoughts about Hopscotch Tavern

Hopscotch Tavern was good, but not great. The issues that I highlighted with the meal definitely cast a shadow over the experience. 

The day we visited, the restaurant was busy; the restaurant is popular as ever. The general public may not see the difference since the entire kitchen changeover, although I could.

I think the new kitchen crew is still getting their bearings straight. I’m planning to revisit Hopscotch and I am confident that they will be better on my next visit.  I recommend Hopscotch Tavern to my readers. Despite the issues I noted, the food was very flavorful and I liked the concept. Let me know about your recent experience at Hopscotch. Good? Bad? issues? I want to hear from you. 

HopScotch Tavern on Urbanspoon

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

17 comments

  1. Uplifting Families

    The food looks amazing. I am sorry that you didn’t have the best experience. I hope that your review helps them improve. 😉

  2. The Mac and cheese looked so good I’m so hungry after reading this blog.. btw I like the way you began this post with the story about the entrepreneur and how he bounced back, it really gained my attention!

  3. Your reviews always make me hungry! I like the sound of the burger, even if it was over done :-)

  4. It all looks great, especially that Mac and cheese.

  5. Wow, Those mac and cheese are my favorite. Lovely place to visit

  6. Definitely the mac was one of the best items on the menu, the burger was also amazing.

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