Rooftop vibes

Knoop sits atop Canopy Hilton in one of the city’s coolest settings.

Hidden at the top of the Canopy Hilton Grand Rapids, there sits a snazzy spot to spend an evening.

Knoop, at 131 Ionia Ave. SW, is one of trendier places in the city, with excellent views that few public spaces in town can offer. Describing itself as a rooftop beer garden, Knoop offers a “refined menu of Dutch- and German-inspired cuisine with a modern touch.” The concept is nailed solidly.

Located in the Studio Park complex, it’s best to head into the Canopy front doors off Ionia Avenue, hop in the elevator and head to the top floor.

The menu is small, but it lays out a few separate ways that could be fun to explore on a date night or evening out with a few friends. Pretty much everything coming out of the kitchen is set up as a shareable item, from the starters to the “full plates.” Meanwhile, the drink menu is tight and interesting, with each cocktail featuring a different keystone liquor.

Not necessarily ideal for a full dinner, Knoop is much more situated for a hang-out-and-graze sort of vibe. It’s a setting that encourages visits before or after a movie, a post-dinner cocktail or a pre-event bite to eat.

To start, grab a cocktail, beer or glass of wine. Beyond the cocktail menu, there’s a nice selection of top-notch beers and quality wines. The cocktails, though, are well-balanced with creative backstories. A server said the bartender who created the menu based the cocktails on original service staff members, leading to quirky combinations to simulate personalities.

Then, order a few items from the starters section on the menu. The pretzel flight plates three different flavors of pretzels, all with a tight crust and fluffy interior and accompanying dipping sauces. The sweet pretzel could do well as a dessert, while the salted pretzel helps the beverages go down easier and the everything-bagel-seasoned pretzel throws a lot of fun curveballs at the tongue — the sauces are beer cheese, ground mustard and buffalo blue.

The chicken lollipops were a pleasant surprise. The bulb of chicken was incredibly moist and popping with flavor, with very slight spice from its habanero pepper brine. The crust added a great crunch but was nice and thin, avoiding an obnoxious covering of just breading. It also wasn’t overly salty, as a piece of un-sauced fried chicken can easily lean.

An excellent part of the Knoop experience is the ability to turn each item on the menu into a shareable plate. So, while the chicken lollipops or pretzel flights certainly set up for a shareable situation, so do the entrees. Other options include a sausage flight, tempura fried mushrooms and cheesy gougeres.

The walleye entrée sets three flaky, lightly battered filets of the whitefish on a pile of French fries. The small rectangular serving dish suggests sharing is encouraged.

The food is well-executed, and the drinks are served quickly and cold. But the true highlight is the vibe, and that atmosphere goes on full display in the summer. Rooftop spots are inherently “cool,” but Knoop takes that to another level. It amplifies the vibe with hip, “Instagrammable” accents starting with lots of windows providing natural light and a popping blue wall entryway with blue china, expanding to a dining room with wood panels and big, spherical light fixtures.

The floor is varied with its seating areas, from small cocktail-type tables to large tables with stool seating and a wall of big, cushioned benches.

The north-facing windows behind the bar show incredible views of downtown Grand Rapids, while the patio — with wide, open sliding doors — offers a cool view looking eastward.

Few things Knoop sets out to do miss, which makes it a can’t-miss stop in Grand Rapids.

This story can be found in the May/June 2022 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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