POP Fills up La Verne’s Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

March 30, 2009
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POP bubbles with excitement.

POP bubbles with excitement.

For a delightful lunch or evening of champagne and chandeliers, charcuterie and conversation, and chocolate bliss and café coziness, take a ride to Old Town Pasadena where you’ll find POP Champagne and Dessert Bar, La Verne’s home away from home.

One of only four know champagne bars in the country, POP bubbled up from the effervescent and irrepressible imagination of Matthew Earhart, a University of La Verne Law School graduate, and his girlfriend and business partner Kristen Traylor who believed the champagne-sipping public was far too underserved and under-educated about the art of the bubbly.

After uncorking their idea to financial backers and gaining their support, Matt, Kristen and their investors looked at a half-dozen Pasadena locations before finally selecting an old 1908 office building at 33 E. Union between Fair Oaks and Raymond Avenues.

“The site was ideal,” said Bob Earhart, Matt’s father and an investor along with Peter Nasmyth, a Claremont lawyer and ULV Law School graduate. “We would still get all of the Colorado Boulevard foot traffic without all of the noise.”

They also got many of the construction problems associated with rehabbing older, historic buildings. For solving those issues, they turned to Jeff Nasmyth, a La Verne contractor and Peter’s brother, as well as other skilled craftsmen from La Verne. Starting last June, they began demolition, stripping away the plaster to the original brick walls and exposing the original beams and hardwood flooring.

But the partners weren’t simply interested in bringing the building up to code and into the 21st century, they were out to infuse it with romance and almost a speak-easy ambiance burnished with dark wood tones, dusky rose-colored fabrics, sparkling chandeliers, Art Deco accents, and a charming coziness that would make you feel comfortable whether you came dressed in a tuxedo or a pair of blue jeans.

Snappy, Jazzy, Classy, Fizzy

LaVerneOutline is happy to report, POP has succeeded in all fronts. Officially opening in December and now getting its Spring legs, POP is snappy, jazzy, classy and fizzy enough to attract repeated visits with its playful, teasing menu of savory dishes, extensive selection of Champagne, sparkling wines, dessert wines and artisanal beers, and popular list of “to-die-for” desserts. Evidence that the staff doesn’t take itself too seriously in the champagne and caviar world it’s promoting, POP offers Miller High Life, “The Champagne of Beers,” whose Irwindale brewery off the 210 freeway you can salute on your way into Pasadena.

As for the wine and Champagne (we capitalize it because the only real Champagne hails from the eponymous region of France), POP has a certified sommelier on staff to guide your selections and tastings. Moreover, Matt and Kristen — recently returned from France’s Champagne region — willingly share their newest insights and inspirations with their guests, another refreshing reason to give POP a try.

“Though people have always associated Champagne with important celebrations and milestones, it can be enjoyed far more often, adding delight and enchantment to savor on any occasion,” Matt said.

For that reason, POP offers more than 50 Champagnes and sparkling wines compared to the usual handful offered by other establishments.  Newbies and connoisseurs alike can sample many of them by ordering tasting flights. Pairing a particular favorite with a selection from the savory menu or dessert list adds another fun and delicious dimension to the Pop experience.

Tempting Tastings

Head chef Emily Earhart is the inspiration and guiding hand behind the eclectic savory and dessert menus. A UC Berkeley and California School of Culinary Arts graduate of its Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie Arts program, Emily has composed a harmonious menu of tempting tastings that hit all the right notes. Everything on the menu benefits from being locally grown and produced on site. There are several beginning bites and cheese and charcuterie plates to satisfy, but please save room for the Chef’s specials: The Truffle Mac n’ Cheese and the Trio of Sliders. The mac and cheese is a modern interpretation of the old classic with black truffle shavings, white cheddar cheese, panko bread crumbs and oyster mushrooms. The sliders are just as satisfying, each with their separate accents of sundried tomatoes, bleu cheese and bacon, and carmelized onions.

Desserts at POP is a world unto itself, providing a fantastic finish to your POP visit.  Again, all the desserts are made in-house to ensure freshness and quality. Emily is quietly garnering a reputation for her risotto pudding with brandied figs, Meyer lemon tart with a scooplet of basil ice cream, soufflé du jour and churros made more scrumptious by a trio of strawberry, chocolate and dulce de leche dipping sauces.

If you would like a seat for Valentine’s Day 2010, make your reservations now. But with 52 weeks in the year, there should be a cozy table waiting for you at POP, whether you’re planning a first date, a social gathering, after-work drinks, or any other night out on the town. Even if the economy is flat, POP will put the fizz back in your life.

POP is open for lunch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. Sunday brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Evening/dinner hours are 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Wednesdays; 5 p.m. – midnight on Thursdays; 5 p.m. – 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Sunday. Happy hour runs 5 p.m. to 7 p.m, with 20% off most appetizers. All happy hour mimosas, bellinis and draft beers are $4.

POP is located at 33 E. Union St. in Pasadena. For more information, call (626) 795-1295, visit www.popchamganebar.com, or simply POP in.

For another review on POP, please visit the Los Angeles Times link:


One Response to “POP Fills up La Verne’s Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams”


  1. POP Champagne & Dessert Bar Turns 1

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