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iamsam Feb 21, 2008 06:02 AM

two friends and I had a wonderful evening at Pops last night. They arrived early and were praising the drinks (though bordering on strong?) by the time I got there-- I believe they had a Sidecar and Cosmo, paired with the crab cakes, which were apparently great!

It was my first time there, and it's such a little jewel box of a space! Really charming.

I had the fried oyster salad with bacon & sweet/sour onion (WAY oversalted, but good flavors), and the lamb chops (cooked perfectly). Also tried a friends' kobe meatloaf, which was nice and sweet and great comfort food, if a bit crumbly. The mashed potatoes were also done well.

After an absolute nightmare of a meal at 75 Chestnut the previous night, we couldn't have asked for more-- warm, efficient service and great, reasonably priced food.

  1. MC Slim JB Feb 21, 2008 06:13 AM

    I love this little place as well, have never had a bad meal once they got through their shakedown-cruise period, and it's one of the South End's better values. An app-sized squash ravioli dish with fried egg on top is one of the winter menu's new items that I think is quite tasty. The $21 grilled ribeye is a great value (prices have crept up a bit, still nothing over $23). Still love that fiery (from chorizo) garlic/bread soup with shrimp. Attention to little details, like serving the wedge salad on a chilled plate, impress me there.

    I was skeptical of the "bar" at Pops: they upgraded to a full liquor license some months ago, but don't have a separate physical bar other than a couple of seats at the end of their kitchen-facing counter seating, and no dedicated bartender, but the last couple of times I've ordered cocktails, they've been very good. Pops is also one of the better fancy lunch options in the South End, and rarely busy. I'm looking forward to their little two-level patio opening again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      i
      iamsam Feb 21, 2008 06:22 AM

      I was very tempted by the squash ravioli with fried egg-- will have to try it next time!

      Agree, I don't know that I'd plan on camping out at the bar, but our group was there early enough (before 6) that we didn't feel too much in the way.

    2. lissy Feb 21, 2008 06:24 AM

      I love this place as well. Service is always friendly, the food tasty and the prices reasonable. My only little gripe is that the last couple of times I've been there, they've been out of many things (any menu item with shrimp one day, all sparkling wines another though they did manage to drum up one last bottle somehow). I especially love Monday night sandwich night. I really like their rueben.

      4 Replies
      1. re: lissy
        heathermb Feb 21, 2008 06:41 AM

        Oh that reuben is good! Second only to Mike's, I think. I just wish it was on the menu more often than Monday nights!

        1. re: heathermb
          MC Slim JB Feb 21, 2008 07:33 AM

          Not sure if it helps, but Pops' Rueben (which I too love) is on the lunch menu every day, and the brunch menu on weekends. I often get a side order of their really great fries with it.

          1. re: MC Slim JB
            heathermb Feb 21, 2008 07:57 AM

            Good point...I should have come out and said what I really want - to be able to get the Reuben for dinner any night of the week, not just Monday! Getting to the SE for lunch is a little tough for me and I feel as if their other brunch items are a little lacking to ask my non-Reuben-loving friends to go there.

            1. re: heathermb
              lissy Feb 21, 2008 08:08 AM

              It's the darndest thing, I checked that brunch menu online last week and it seemed a bit lacking (and I don't remember seeing the reuben either). But I just checked again and that brunch menu looks chock full of good stuff, including the reuben. Next brunch will have to be there!

      2. chowciao Feb 21, 2008 09:36 AM

        I haven't been to 75 Chestnut in almost a year - shame to hear it's gone downhill. We walked by Pops again the other night. All I could remember was a mixed review on this place. I'm happy to hear it's so well received. Next I'll follow the urge and stop in!

        1. MichaelB Mar 25, 2008 09:10 AM

          Thought I'd bump this thread back up to report on the monday night menu. Had wanted to try sandwich night for a while, finally had the chance last night. We got there early - around 6 - and it was nearly empty to start but began to fill up as it got later. We sat in the back area - VERY nice - a 2-top overlooking the (currently barren) garden area out back. I imagine this is a really pretty spot in spring and summer.

          As for food, I had the burger and my DC had the reuben. She definitely won on that score - delicious corned beef, nicely crisp bread - very tasty. The homemade potato chips alongside were a little underdone, but still nice. My burger, I'm sorry to say, was just so-so. The slow-cooked onions underneath and the mushrooms on top were nicely cooked, but the bun and the burger both had issues. The brioche bun didn't have the problem that some do of disintegrating by the third bite, but it was just a bit too sweet and stodgy to go well with the burger. I think it was also a touch stale, so it was a bit dry and heavy - really not an ideal burger bun.

          The burger was cooked as ordered (medium-rare) and it dripped a bit of juice when picked up, which was promising. Unfortunately the meat itself was on the heavy and tough side, with not much of a crunchy sear on the outside to contrast with a juicy inside. (It actually reminded me a little of the burger at Shay's in Harvard Square, where they *bake* the burgers.) I think it had also sat and solidified for a while after cooking, as it wasn't particularly hot - we waited a while after ordering, so there may have been a kitchen timing glitch. The fries alongside were very good. Both sandwiches also came with a salad, which was fine, though if I were being quibbly (and I am) I would want a little more acid in the dressing - this just tasted like greens tossed with oil.

          Good selection of wines by the glass - not terribly cheap (I think they start at 8/glass) but some interesting selections and *very* generous pours. I had a Cannonou di Sardegna, which I've never even heard of - a little tannic at first but it opened up and balanced out in the glass, and my DC had the Syrah, which was very tasty and classic - nice blackberry/blackcurrent flavors but not at all a fruit bomb.

          Service was friendly and helpful. Overall I enjoyed the sandwich night, but I would probably opt for a different choice next time. I feel like I've heard others praise the burger here - is my experience anomalous or is the burger just not their strongest
          item??

          EDIT: completely forgot to mention dessert, which would be unfair as it was excellent. We shared the chocolate-peanut butter cake, which came as a cylinder with layers of chocolate genoise (nice and moist) and a peanut butter, um, ganache? Stickier and more peanutty than a cream, but not TOO thick. The cylinder was topped with bruleed banana slices and had a smear of chocolate sauce and a dollop of whipped cream alongside. Comfort-food dessert and a damn good one - we only discussed it when about 3/4 of it was gone - prior to that we were just digging in. Definitely a nice note to end the meal on.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MichaelB
            MC Slim JB Mar 25, 2008 09:27 AM

            I love Pops, but agree that the brioche roll is a mistake, as it is on ESK's burger and Neptune's lobster roll. Give me a sturdy kaiser or other plainer option, please! (Truly awesome fries at Pops, though: well worth the upgrade from chips on sandwich night or at lunch.)

            1. re: MichaelB
              gini Mar 25, 2008 10:24 AM

              I was MichaelB's DC and cannot in any way compete with the detail of this post, but just a few notes.

              I totally won with the reuban. At first, I was a little concerned with the thickly sliced meat, but the taste won me over immediately. Agree that the salad could use any acid - all I tasted was oil and salt. My chips were a little soggy, but I think that's because the kitchen forgot to put them on the first time around and the waitress had to go back for them. A soggy-in-the-middle chip is a sad thing indeed. I should have ordered fries instead as they were perfect. My palate could not detect the blackcurrant specifically in the Syrah, but I liked the general fruitiness.

              MichaelB's Cannonau was far too tannic for my tastes, but probably balanced out the greasy burger well. Speaking of the burger - I agree that the bun was too sweet and too dense for the burger, but I actually quite liked the way the burger tasted. I'm pretty sad as this is the second burger bun that fell short - the bun at Sel-De-La-Terre in Natick completely disintegrated the other day. Chefs, please listen - no more brioche for burgers, ok? Please!

              Chocolate peanut butter cake was excellent, especially the crispy bananas on top.

              I couldn't believe how much food they managed to pile onto those sandwich plates for $10. What a deal.

            2. soxchik Mar 25, 2008 10:29 AM

              Went for the first time on Saturday evening with the BF. Aside from the service being a bit slow (but very friendly!) it was great. We both started with a glass of sangria. Tasty, but nothing to write home about. I had two apps as my meal - the roasted beet salad with feta (slices of beet layered with feta, topped with chopped hazelnuts and a creme fraiche drizzle) and the truffled butternut squash ravioli (didn't taste much truffle, but it was excellent and vegetarian which was nice, not all butternut squash raviolis are). The BF had the Kobe meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. It also had carrots on top. He said it had a very good flavor and was a good sized portion. We split a dessert - I think it was called a double chocolate cake with oreo crust. It may not have been called a cake because it was more of a thick mousse/brownie pudding - but either way it was AWESOME. It came with a separate pot of fresh whipped cream. Yummy!

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