Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mini Foodventure #94: POP Champagne & Dessert Bar (Pasadena)

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.

Restaurant Interior
The decor is very chill and relaxing, lots of dark tones with deep purple chairs and booths, dark wood furnishings and a red brick wall; also some art deco elements with the wallpaper and the no-picture gilded frames, a touch of elegance with crystal chandeliers and some mellow jazz and French bistro tunes playing in the background. Particularly catchy was one yellow wall towards the back with many little circular mirrors on it, emulating the sparkling wine look. However, I do agree with my friends that in the day this atmosphere looks a bit dreary, but at night it has good potential for a mellow after-hours spot to hang out post-clubbing, a nice follow-up to a dinner date or even a nice little break before or after an Old Town excursion.

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).
Flights of Bubbles
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.
Poached Pear
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.
Petit Four Plate
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.
(626) 795-1295


Exile Kiss said...

Hi H.C.,

Thanks for the early review. :) Definitely looks like a cool place to hang out. I'll have to try it the next time I'm in the area. Thanks.

mattatouille said...

HC - nice review. I was looking into this place when it hit Eater. I'm in pasadena often so it's nice to have a place like this. Plus, champagne just happens to be my favorite beverage (in the world, yes, in the world).

gourmetpigs said...

Didn't know this place existed!
YES! I always have trouble finding dessert places when I'm on campus, now I know where to go next :D

H. C. said...

@Exilekiss, Cool - can't wait to see what you have to say about POP.

@Matt, ha - so you go bubbly for bubblies? They have a decent selection of those here so hopefully there'll be a few to your liking!

@Burumun - let me know if you need a sweet tooth partner-in-crime :D


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