Review: Pop in Lafayette Square
Pop in Lafayette Square is Dave and Kara Bailey’s love letter to bubbles. All dark wood, low lighting and touches of gold, the space is at once cozy and seductive. It invites settling in and savoring, appropriate for the effervescent elixir to which Pop is dedicated.
The space includes two rooms and a back patio for warmer weather celebrations. The front room is gorgeous, a gold and coral floral wallpaper imbuing it with a warm glow. A long, dark bar overhung with lush plants runs along one side. It faces a line of bistro tables and a banquette backed in tufted leather and furnished with gold, coral and orange velvet cushions. The texture game here is strong. The back room is also attractive, featuring charcoal walls and exposed brick, a mix of high and low tables and bubble-themed paintings in gold frames.
I adore sparkling wine, so I was predisposed to like Pop. The list is impressive, including options by the glass and bottles from all over the world – France, of course, but also Spain, Italy, Argentina and the U.S. The menu provides tasting notes for wines by the glass, helping us bubbly lovers who are not necessarily connoisseurs make a selection. The list veers from wine with a sparkling sake, a New Belgium sour ale and the Quebrada del Chucao Brut Cider Espumante – a dry, funky Chilean cider, which was one of the more interesting things I tasted at Pop.
The small list of original cocktails also offers unique, fizzy delights. My favorite was the Lombardy’s Top Hat, made with Old Forester Rye, rosemary simple syrup and lemon and topped with Lambrusco, a sparkling Italian red wine that gives the drink a dry finish. Seasonal cocktail The Perfect Pear was also noteworthy. Combining gin, pear, cardamom bitters, vanilla liqueur and fizz from a sparkling German Müller-Thurgau, it’s a slightly sweet but complex cocktail.
For those who aren’t so hot on bubbles, Pop also offers more than a dozen beers and cider by the bottle and a handful on draft. Local makers like Perennial Artisan Ales and Brick River Cider Co. are represented, but the list leans heavily toward Belgian brews. There are also a few still wines.
The menu includes a range of eight classic entrees like chicken breast with beurre blanc and squash, a burger and salmon with a balsamic glaze and watercress but, if you’re there for a date, there is also a variety of snacks and small plates designed to complement sparkling libations.
The bacon fat frites especially pair well – the salty fat of the fries provides an addictive counterpoint to the acidic fizz. So does the fondue de blanc, which comes with bread, apples, tomatoes, olives and fried artichokes for dipping. Likewise, the charcuterie board offers a nice array of meats and cheeses to nibble on.
Blackened ahi tacos with avocado, peanut sauce and pickled red onions provide a nice hit of freshness by swapping conventional tortillas with a thin slice of crunchy jicama. The chicken skewers and hummus were both fine, but less notable than the other shareable options.
Pop is a fitting space for celebrations big and small or whenever you need to inject a little magic into your evening. As F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain or someone else misquoted in memes once said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.”
Stephanie Zeilenga is a longtime contributor and critic for Sauce Magazine.
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