My interest in Hop Jack’s started because of the exclamation points.
My friend Suzanne was unable to talk about the restaurant, which she had first tried in Olympia, without her enthusiasm pouring all over. You could practically see the exclamation points over her head.
So when I sent her a note and asked if she wanted to try out the new Hop Jack’s in Lynnwood with me, I wasn’t surprised when her answer included a dozen exclamation points.
Suzanne’s main point of enthusiasm was the ice cups, which seem gimmicky but are really quite cool (pun intended). It sounds like an adult Slurpee, but in actuality, it’s a mixed drink served in a cup made of ice. The ice cup is then placed inside of a normal glass (they cleverly screw together so it doesn’t fall on your face when you take a drink) and the rim is sometimes coated in sugar, depending on what you’ve ordered.
When we visited the Lynnwood location, which opened earlier this year, we started out with drinks, of course. Suzanne asked if they could make a strawberry cheesecake ice cup, a drink that she had the first time she visited, but that’s no longer on the menu. Turns out they’ll still make it if you ask, and it really did taste just like strawberry cheesecake. I ordered a peach spiked Arnie, a twist on an Arnold Palmer, with peach schnapps, sweet tea vodka and lemonade. It was delicious, smooth and sweet, but not overpowering.
Our appetizer was a cheese dip with pita bread (amazing) and flatbread (delicious) and tortilla chips (boring). It was warm and creamy with a good artisan flavor. The dip was goat cheese and a mixture of herbs, served satisfyingly steaming hot. If I ever order it again, I’ll ask for simply flatbread and no tortilla chips, which didn’t go as well with the great dip.
For dinner, I ordered a steak salad, which came with greens, peppers, blue cheese, frizzled onions and a balsamic dressing. The steak was tasty, but the overall effect of the salad was underwhelming. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just flat and none of the flavors really popped.
Suzanne order a Philly cheese steak. She quickly realized once her sandwich arrived that she’d made a mistake by not asking them to swap out the cheese. It comes with American cheese, and she prefers provolone. As Suzanne said, though, she could hardly blame Hop Jack’s for that. It’s right there on the menu and she simply forgot to swap the cheese. I tasted her sandwich and agreed with her. Otherwise, it was a good sandwich with good bread and flavorful fillings. And if you like American cheese, you’ll probably love it.
Dessert was cheesecake with fresh huckleberries and syrup strewn all over it. I am pretty picky with cheesecake and this one was absolutely perfect. Not too heavy, not too airy, with just the right amount of topping to make it interesting without being over the top sweet.
We also tried a gummy bear ice cup, which Suzanne said is her husband’s favorite. It was a bit sweet for my taste, but I couldn’t deny the attraction of the frozen gummy bears in the bottom of the cup. Hop Jack’s has a number of options for ice cups, and it’s well worth the trip just for them. Next time I’ll try one of the fruit ones. There are a number of options including huckleberry and grapefruit, which both sound delightful.
The service was a bit spotty. Our food and drinks came reasonably promptly, but we had to ask three times before we finally got water.
I’ll be back, though, Hop Jack’s is a fun place. The mood is light and friendly, the menu is written with some entertaining bits of sass thrown in and it’s clearly friendly for all ages. We saw families there, as well as older couples chatting over dinner.
On my next visit, though, I may stick to appetizers and drinks which, were, after all, the highlight of our meal. I know it won’t be long before Suzanne wants to go back for ice cups, with an exclamation point.
19702 Highway 99, Lynnwood, 425-245-7901, www.hopjacks.net.
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 8 a.m. to midnight, Sunday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Alcohol: Ice cups, beers on tap and in the bottle and well drinks.