At long last, a place just for sweets and drinks, brings back such fond memories of my days in dessert bars on the East Coast. And even though POP specialize in sparkling wines and closes comparatively early (1 a.m. at the latest for now), it's in nearby Pasadena and is the only thing like it in L.A. And after months of longingly eyeing that "coming soon" banner, I finally got their grand opening email so I got few friends to join me in popping into POP.
Our server, Gregory, was fairly knowledgeable about and gave good insights on what's popular, what's a good value and what's trendy on the foods and wine menu (which covers more than just sweet and sparklies, they have selections of still wines and beers, and some small plate savories as well).
Wanting to try a little of everything, we opted for two bubbly flights, a rosé and a true Champagne trio. Between the six wines, we pretty much ran the whole gamut of smells, flavors and mouthfeels from being light, sweet and fairly bland to rich, dry and fragrant, but we agreed with Gregory on his favorites of the flights, finding them tastiest ourselves.
The first sweets we decided on was a pear poached in a honey-sauternes sauce with pear chip and creme fraiche. While it lacked the visual flair of the red wine poached variety, it was a light, refreshing, not-too-sweet dessert, with the fruit still having a little bit of a crisp. The creme fraiche added a little flavor contrast and richness that my friends liked, but I thought it was unnecessary.
We also got a petit fours plate that included macarons and macaroons, biscotti, chocolate-covered sea salt caramels, truffles and pecan shortbread. We loved the assortment but had mixed feeling about the individual desserts. The macarons, caramels and truffles were a hit, but the shortbread wasn't sweet enough (maybe meant to pair with a dryer sparkly?) and the macaroons were too dry and seemed overbaked.
And just for kicks, we also got something we rarely see, a bottle of Hou Hou Shu Blue sparkling sake, which tasted like, no surprise, sake with bubbles. Ok, to be more specific, I think the carbonation help brings out sake aroma more, and this one was pretty pleasant with a tropical coconut, melon and banana fragrance.
All in all, we left with a positive experience. The place isn't particularly cheap (the bill for what we ordered was around $70) but not super pricey either especially if stopping by for a little wine (ranges from $5-20 a glass or $12-$20 a flight) and some sweets (around the $10 mark), and I hope this makes it in the future since it fills a very unique one-of-a-kind niche, esp. for sweet toothers like me!
POP Champagne & Dessert Bar
33 E. Union St.