Taste – Fall 2019
By Griffin Nelson | Photos By Sara Wise
When Chops & Hops opened its doors, the goal was to have an interesting selection of craft beer on tap to complement the cuts of meat on its menu. There were nine taps then, from some of the earliest craft breweries in the U.S. and the Athens area. At the time, the city and county laws were more restrictive, but a few years ago this changed, allowing the restaurant to expand its bar. The now 12 taps are constantly rotating. They offer seasonal brews from different breweries, local when available, from up and down the Eastern Seaboard and occasionally cross country.
If you’re looking for something a little more predictable they have a menu with a little something for everyone highlighting Georgia breweries like Creature Comforts, Sweetwater, Monday Night, Orpheus and Oconee Brewing. Occasionally, they’ll even do tap takeovers by a specific brewery, allowing customers to sample a wider selection by the same company, as the number of breweries in the state and beers made by each one have grown exponentially in recent years.
Chops & Hops has also added an extensive wine list with both easy-drinking house wines and unique choices. The wines have a slightly wider reach than the beers, with an international list that includes the Hess Select Pinot Gris out of California, a Barone Montalto Cabernet from Sicily and a Biurko Tempranillo from Spain. The reserve wine list includes some amazing special-occasion-worthy options as well. Wine tastings have been a feature on their calendar including a recent event based on the creative concept of “wines that you don’t see,” allowing attendees to think outside the box and try something new.
The recent change in liquor regulation has also allowed them to create a stunning cocktail list. There’s a Spring/Summer and a Fall/Winter list plus some standard drinks that are available year-round, like the Oconee Cosmo. There’s something on the drink menu to pair with whatever is ordered from the restaurant, complementing flavors and seasonal preferences. Between the bartender’s attention to creative and quality drinks, imported wines and a revolving door of local beers, Chops & Hops appeals to a universal palate.
After nearly a decade in business, Chops & Hops in Watkinsville consistently serves up a primo menu and rotating drink selection. Owners Mellony Adkins and Andrew Wallace, both with a background in the food industry, have built a family of friendly servers, quality-concerned chefs and creative bartenders.
The original inspiration behind the restaurant stands strong today – house-cut pork chops, lamb chops, steaks and good craft beer. Through the years, they’ve expanded the menu with burgers, salads and seasonally available fish and vegetables. Locally sourced vegetables and wild caught fish are used whenever they’re available and each dish is created with fresh ingredients and care by head chef Josh Aaron.
Each cut of meat, whether its pork, steak or lamb, is the highest quality available. The ribeye has juicy marbling and the pork chop comes with a delicious bourbon pecan glaze. If you prefer to see a few more vegetables on your plate, there is a veggie platter on the menu. This summer’s yummy selection of vegetarian and side dishes has included delights like honey roasted carrots and pesto Parmesan mashed potatoes.
The interior of Chops & Hops is bright and open with a lovely banquet room upstairs for events that can seat up to 70 people. The space is decorated with a rotating selection of work by local artists giving it both an upscale yet comfortable vibe.
Chops & Hops can also come to you. Event and wedding catering is available with the same attention to detail and quality of service and food found in the restaurant. There is even a second location in the works! Chops & Hops is doubling up, bringing their quality food and expertise to downtown Athens toward the end of the year.