My wife wanted to check out the new Pop Bistro on Queen Street East and we made reservations for last night. It was afterwards that I checked into reviews, etc. and found a somewhat negative review by a fellow chowhound. As it was already 7:00, we felt we had no choice, and ventured out anyways.
We arrived and the dining room was empty...always a bit concerning, but we were greeted with a friendly smile and warm welcome by Mark (owner). We sat down and after asking and hearing about the restaurant's short history (about a month old), we asked for recommendations. The wine list is very short and I noticed a 1997 Bourgogne white on the list. I was curious as to the producer (and that it was likely well beyond its prime). Turns out the producer was Remoinesset - very good, and this was a great example of textbook Chardonnay with some bottle age - absolutely delicious.
My wife went with a grilled caesar salad (made famous by RainCity Grill in Vancouver), which was okay; had some of the smokiness, but lacked the intensity of the west coast version (not fair to compare). I had an excellent chorizo sausage and grape dish that was presented in a port glaze (a great counter-balance of spicy and fruity) - this was accompanied by an excellent TerraDora red wine from Campania, Italy (forward fruit and a little rustic - perfect match).
For entrees, we had the steak frites which was a very good quality cut and excellent shoestring frites - the Bearnaise sauce was also very good. I went with the grilled yellow fin tuna (although the quality was excellent and cooked as ordered - rare), I wonder if it was actually yellow-fin? But it was very tasty and delicious with an Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Pinot Noir. We were quite full and didn't have room for dessert this time.
What made the visit such a positive experience was the interaction of Mark, and although a first-time owner, does have a passion and a genuine interest in his customers - and that can make all the difference.
I would come back, but would like to see the wine offerings expand, or alternatively, they could offer BYOB, until they get more established and generate some cash-flow to build up a little.
Dinner for two (three glasses of wine, a bottle of water, two coffees, two app's and two mains) came to $150 with tip. Try this out for yourselves, we always need more good neighbourhood restaurants. Cheers!