For just over a year now 54 Stanley Street has been the location of Hopskotch Street Kitchen & Bar, and I must confess that until my recent visit I knew very little of its existence. I quickly realised when standing outside that it wasn’t going to be my first time entering the place, recalling that it was of course once the old iconic Wade Smith building, and my brother who was coincidentally my companion for this visit and I had been frequent visitors during our teen years when we sought the latest tracksuits and trainers from the vast array they had on offer. Those days remain fondly in the past now that the clothes racks and fitting rooms have been replaced by tables and chairs, and the promise of an authentic street kitchen experience beckoned us as we stepped through the door.
Upon entering we were greeted by the vibrant and spacious environment of the place, which was both very modern and quirky with its brightly coloured furniture and décor, and it was nice to see some Beatles artwork which acknowledged its presence on the doorstep of the Cavern Quarter in there as well. We were given a choice of places to sit and time to peruse both the food and drinks menus both of which were very large but pretty reasonably priced. Despite not boasting the vastest or most original selection of bottled beers, they did have one I’d yet to try in a Brew Dog 5AM Saint, and so I opted for that whilst my brother decided to dabble in the draught.
If we weren’t exactly spoiled for choice in this department, the food menu definitely had us both scratching our heads trying to decide what to have. The street kitchen experience here isn’t restricted to any one particular cuisine, and we had a choice of dishes originating everywhere from South Africa, Portugal, Greece and USA to just good old fish and chips from England if we so wished. My brother opted for their very own “Hopdog”, which was topped with Pulled Pork and Cheese and came with fries and slaw on the side, whilst I found myself drawn to the Souvlaki, and the chance to try and relive a family holiday we once took to Greece when we ate little else wandering around the streets browsing the shops and stalls of our resort. Our waiter who was extremely polite and open mannered echoed my sentiments upon hearing my order, and recalled his own time in Greece which had resulted in this dish being his own personal favourite off the Hopskotch menu.
Our meals were served up to us on colourful greaseproof takeaway paper, and charming wooden boards, that seemed to pleasingly encourage us to scrap the cutlery and get straight in with our hands – just like how eating proper street food should be done. The Hopdog was duly devoured – and quickly – by my brother, who found it to be nice and meaty and in need of a good solid bite to pierce the skin of the sausage. The Souvlaki pork skewers I set about immediately disassembling and, along with the chunky chips and tsatziki (and standardly requested hot sauce), reconstructed them in the flatbread provided to fashion a couple of mini kebabs. It was a fun way to eat and it definitely made me feel up until that last bite like I was back in Greece again, depriving fellow holidaymakers and locals of a chance to tuck into their favourite street food. We both agreed that the chips at Hopskotch perfectly seasoned with the skin still on were a definite highlight of the meal.
Following the meal we had a chance to speak to Andy Lester, Hopskotch’s new manager for just over a month, who gave us a guided tour of the place including the function room in the basement (The Hatch), next door to see the building’s wider purpose as a backpacking hostel (Hoax), as well as an interesting insight into his vision for the future of the restaurant. Upon going downstairs to The Hatch we discovered a function room complete with its own bar, a DJ/Stage area, dance floor, table football machine and pool table – all with the same modern décor as Hopskotch.
With the restaurant just upstairs (and the information that the football is regularly shown downstairs), it would seem they had ticked near enough every box on the list labelled ‘things I like to do’…now if only they had somewhere you could get your head down. Thankfully they do, and the hostel part of the business was equally impressive, with each backpacking room neat and clean in appearance, and coming complete with secure lockers, bunkbeds, seperate showering and toilet facilities and plenty of handy plug sockets for all your travelling needs. Other rooms we saw were equipped with double beds, and each one had its own unique feel and décor distinct from one another.
The place as a whole has a great deal on offer, and is situated in a great location between the Cavern Quarter and Stanley Street Quarter, as well as being close to both the shopping and business districts of the city centre. This fact was not lost on Hopskotch’s manager Andy, and he was quick to acknowledge the relatively untapped potential the place possessed. In the short time he has been in the job so far he has set about devising ways to boost the draw of the restaurant from the surrounding streets, and working closely with the kitchen staff to come up with new and exciting ideas for the menu. With the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival just on the horizon and firmly in his sights, Andy forsees a big presence for the restaurant at this year’s event hinting at one dish in particular which he promised visitors to Sefton Park in late September to be something they won’t ever have experienced in Liverpool before. Despite already offering an impressive and enjoyable dining experience, it will be exciting to see what the future holds for Hopskotch and I, for one, will be keeping close tabs on the place in the coming months.
To check out the Hopskotch’s Menus visit: http://hopskotchliverpool.com/