OK, so we’ve been living under a rock.
Prior to our trip to The Pop Shop last weekend, this was the extent of my knowledge of Collingswood: my parents had an apartment there in ’60s (before I was even born). I never had a reason to ever go to Collingswood, even when I was still living in Burlington County.
Well, I got ’em now.
As we drove down Route 70, slowly dying of hunger, and exited onto Cuthbert Boulevard, I could start to see why Collingswood was being talked up as such a foodie town. On either side on the tree-lined street, big beautiful older homes presented themselves in a quiet dignified manner. ‘Ah, there’s money here’ I thought to myself. And where there’s money, there’s sure to be restaurants doing their best to show that money an enjoyable food experience.
After negotiating the detour of Haddon Avenue (due to some kind of event which seemed long over), we found parking and took a stroll. Haddon Avenue, like Washington Street in Hoboken, is a poster child for what’s possible with gentrification. Inviting restaurants, like The Tortilla Press and Water Lily, sit snugly next to funky shops that make you want to pop in and browse just for fun. Stuff like this turns Lisa and I into little kids skipping down the aisle of a toy store…look at that…cool…check that out…oh I want to try that…you get the idea.
We finally get to The Pop Shop, and the place looked just as I expected based on the images from the website (ain’t the Internets great?), only a bit bigger. There were the black and white mural-sized images on the wall from a simpler age, the eclectic clock collection, the lunch counter taken from an old restaurant, the checkered floor…all very kitschy.
We took our seats at the table and gave the newspaper-designed menu a good looking over. The first thing that struck me as I read the choices was the focus on fun. Examples? An omelet dish called Peggy Sue Got Hungry, a Hot and Cold Black Friday sandwich that consisted of hot turkey and cold stuffing and cranberry sauce, Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, and, for you lovers of ’80s music, a hot dog meal called Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
And then you have their drink menu. The combinations of flavors for sodas, ice cream sodas and shakes were very impressive, although they didn’t have cinnamon available the night we went and I wanted to try a cinnamon Coke. (Dangit…that kind of thing seems to happen to me way too often, but I digress.)
Here’s how our order went down: we decided to share the crab pretzel (a Philly soft pretzel split in half, then covered in crab dip, cheese and Old Bay seasoning) for an appetizer. I settled on the Laurel grilled cheese sandwich (one from a long list of grilled cheese sandwiches) with a chocolate cream Coke. Lisa went with two appetizers for her meal; the tomato soup with Goldfish crackers and the buffalo tofu “wings”, as well as having a chocolate Coke. And little Julian went for the complete sugar overload; a fluffernutter with bubblegum soda. I know…we’re bad parents. 🙂
Lisa’s soup arrived first, and it was very tasty. It was a rich soup, closer to a good red gravy for pasta than a warm cup of V-8, and the Goldfish crackers were a nice touch. The crab pretzel was, erm, a little fishy smelling, so we nibbled on it a bit and left most of it intact.
Then the main attractions arrived. My Laurel grilled cheese (cheddar, pulled pork and onion rings on ciabatta) was more of a pulled pork sandwich than a grilled cheese sandwich, but it was very tasty nonetheless. Thankfully, the pork was not too smothered in a BBQ sauce, so you could actually taste the pork.
Well…HEY! Here I am enjoying my Laurel. 🙂 Y’know, I look at this picture and all I can think of is ‘man…I need a haircut.’
Lisa’s buffalo tofu “wings” were well executed. Since tofu takes on any flavor, a good buffalo sauce is all you need…and it was a good sauce; tangy and hot, but not so much that all you get is heat and no flavor. Here’s a look at the “wings”:
And then there was Julian and his fluffernutter. I could try to describe it, but I think the picture of him does a better job:
Yeah, he liked it. And his bubblegum soda even had bubblegum pieces at the bottom. Yum.
Onto the desserts!
Like the main menu, the drink and dessert menu is full of happy choices. Lisa went for the Make Your Own Sundae option, I went for my usual love for all things mint by getting a chocolate chip mint shake, and Julian got vanilla sand.
Yep. Vanilla pudding with crushed vanilla cookies to look like sand and gummy sharks; again, very playful.
Everyone enjoyed their desserts. You want proof? Fine, here’s Ms Morning Sickness actually enjoying herself:
Honestly, plop any kind of chocolatey thing in front of her, and she’s very happy.
All in all, we very much enjoyed our night at The Pop Shop. Our waitress was friendly and attentive, and loved chatting with Julian. While not super-inexpensive (our meal with tip came to about $70), it would be a reasonable place to take a group of people or families who enjoy sharing appetizers.
And so, with bellys full and faces happy, we headed back down Haddon Avenue to our car. Although Collingswood is a bit more than a hop, skip and jump away, we now know that good things are happening there. May our Collingswood education continue to be this enjoyable.
The Pop Shop – 729 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood. 856.869.0111.
Alright – going to give John from 2008 a break and not get overly critique-y about this post. It’s not a post I would write now, but that’s coming from ten years of experience.
It felt genuinely weird then (and, still at times, now) to be snapping pics of food. This was the first ‘we’re going to write about this’ restaurant visit, but looking at the images, they seem more like vacation shots than anything else. And that shot of me – I’m literally posing as if I just took a big, fat chomp into my sammich. Gawky and awkward. But with any new experience you have to get through the uncomfortable feelings.
The Pop Shop now has two locations (Collingswood and Medford), and has become a South Jersey institution. Still a good place to bring the kids – as long as everyone is prepared to wait. – John H-F, March 2018