Now if you happen to find yourself at the Adventure Aquarium and need a bite to eat, you’re in the perfect area to check out The Pop Shop. Located just four miles away in the cute downtown of Collingswood, it’s a little throwback joint that has received some national acclaim by being featured on Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay. If you’re not familiar with the show, the chosen restaurant dishes up the dish that they are most known for, and Flay then competes, using all of his chef prowess (and two helpers) in a throwdown, to see whose end product really is the best. When The Pop Shop competed, it was with their grilled cheese (they offer 31 varieties of it!).
But beyond the brush with fame, The Pop Shop was popular in its own right. Soda fountains, decorating reminiscent of the 1950s, and breakfast served all day, it’s a cute spot with a fun, cheery vibe. They have won numerous “best of” awards for their pancakes and their grilled cheese. On street parking and an easy-to-find location, we were lucky enough to snag a booth with no waiting. Although we had to ask for them, they have soda jerk hats and crayons to keep the kids busy while waiting for food.
The menu is exhaustive. So many different combinations. Breakfast. Sandwiches. Grilled cheese in every combination. Comfort food at every turn. Two pages just devoted to milk shakes. It’s one of those menus that you need to close once you decide on something that looks good, because if you keep looking, you’ll keep changing your mind.
Madeline went very old-school with a PB&J, and Nick ordered a cheeseburger. They have three sections of the menu just for kids … baby squirts, little squirts, and big squirts. A word to the wise, be clear which section you’re ordering from when you do. I ordered Nick a cheeseburger, and he was served the “adult” cheeseburger to the tune of $7.99, versus the $4.59 and $3.99 big/little squirt versions. Color me not happy. I mean, does he look like an adult? Even worse when they add an additional 0.99 for the cheese, and 1.99 for the fries (which we didn’t order). Beyond ridiculous. The burger was quite bland, with no seasoning at all on the meat. He did manage to eat 3/4 of it though, and lost a wiggly molar on it in the process.
And darn that Tooth Fairy for forgetting to come last night!
Since The Pop Shop is well-known for their grilled cheese, that’s, of course, the way I had to go. I ended up choosing their 5B’s Grilled Cheese, which was inspired by the sandwich that Bobby Flay made while he was there. I’m still lost on why it’s called 5B’s (Bobby, Brie, Bacon … and?), and meant to ask our waiter, but he kept sitting down with another table. Along with the bacon and Brie, the sandwich also had goat cheese, and, really, warm goat cheese and I am so there. The bread was a thick country white and was perfect for the sandwich. My only complaint about the sandwich was the rather anemic looking tomatoes and the bacon could have been cooked more. Unfortunately red tomatoes are hard to come by this time of year in the Northeast, but then you just need to outsource them from a little further out.
The order came with fries, and I am admittedly picky about fries. Not so much fries, but if I’m going to ingest something reasonably unhealthy, I want it to be worth it, you know? They were mostly meh; limp and under-seasoned. I ended up leaving most of mine, as did the kids, so I’d take a pass if you go.
Nick has a soft spot for milk shakes, and his eyes all but glazed over when he saw all the choices they had. He ended up going with the S’mores Milk Shake, and it was delicious.
They have a large selection of other drinks, as well as many soda concoctions, but surprisingly no ginger ale (which happens to be my drink of choice since giving up Diet Coke back in April).
If you’re in the area, it’s worth a stop.
PS One thing of note that was nagging at me – if you use the restroom, you’ll want a partner to cover for you. Literally. There are large gaps between the door and the panel that it is attached to (for both stalls), enough that you can pretty much see everything that’s going on behind the door. Which is totally not cool.
The Pop Shop
729 Haddon Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108