Sunday, August 30, 2009


Tonight was Pops' night. It's down in the Brightleaf area, tucked away in the corner on Peabody Street behind the bar scene. After a rather lengthy discussion on the proper pronunciation of Peabody, we got down to business. Though Pop's bills itself as an Italian trattoria, it doesn't necessarily give off an Italian vibe. It rather makes you feel like you're in some couple's nicely appointed rural home down South that just happens to have a bunch of dining tables decorating a cavernous space and open kitchen bar.

We didn't share much in the way of apps or entrees, but I can speak to the fact that my NC grouper with littleneck clams and red potatoes in a seafood broth was just what the doctor ordered to end GI. Though the fish was actually slightly chewier than it could have been, the broth was impeccable - as fine a jus on fish as I have had in quite a while. I managed to finagle a taste of the scallop special from an ILE teammate, which was served with a veal jus over cabbage and sweet potatoes with honey and garlic - a creative combination that worked well given the nice sear on the scallops. Others enjoyed the array of personal pizzas on offer, including a truffle oil thin crust reminiscent of New Haven style pizza less the burnt crust. Dessert for me was a local blueberry and South Carolina peach crisp served a la mode with vanilla ice cream. The cobbler itself was actually a bit runny, but the fruit was flavor packed and the brown sugary goodness of the crumb and vanilla bean more than compensated.

I think all would agree the most impressive part of the night was actually the service. We were looking for a bottle of white wine to share that was neither too sweet nor too dry. Unbeknowest to me, there are white rioja grapes, and the waitress actually recommended this varietal which was the cheapest bottle on the menu. That doesn't happen often, and so when it does, I tend to listen. All four who partook enjoyed the wine immensely, and as graduate students waist deep in debt we were proud of our value play. The waitress not only provided separate checks, she even split out the wine onto four bills and split desserts as appropriate. What a nice added value, and we were all too happy to oblige with the automatically added 20% gratuity.

Ultimately, Pop's was much better than I recall from my other two experiences there long ago. It's a nice restaurant that won't break the bank, but can still be considered a nice occasion restaurant. The menu left me completely indecisive, so odds are that I will return sometime soon to try one of the enticing pasta dishes or possibly their famous granny smith apple and brie pizza. It was clear that others felt the same way. Gotta have my Pops.

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