Mostly everyone is familiar with The Pop Shop in Collingswood. It’s a cute retro diner/soda fountain smack in the middle of Haddon Ave that caters to kids and adults alike. There are two appropriate responses to the thought of dining at The Pop Shop:
1. What a cute restaurant! They have decent diner food that won’t make my insides churn a half hour after eating, and all these kids walking around with balloons and smiling faces are just so charming. Plus – ice cream!
2. No freaking way am I waiting in line for an hour to eat a burger or pancake on uncomfortable metal chairs with 100 screaming kids wearing their pajamas and throwing food on the floor. I don’t care how good the ice cream sundaes are.
We at Collingswood Foodies have had both responses in equal amount, and wouldn’t blame you for swinging in either direction. It’s true that the restaurant is usually very crowded and very loud. It is the place for young parents to to bring their babies and toddlers to eat on a weekend, and it’s not uncommon for a line of folks to wait outside for a table. While the food isn’t gourmet enough to wait longer than a half hour (in our opinion), if you hit the restaurant at just the right time and don’t mind talking loudly to the rest of your party, there’s some decent food to be had.
Pop Shop Ice Cream
Let’s start with the ice cream. We’re adults and can talk (and eat) dessert first if we want. We’ve gone to The Pop Shop on several occasions just for sundaes. You can order a fancy-named themed treat or create your own from a long list of flavors, candies, and sauces. They can get a bit pricey, so try going on a Sunday when sundaes are priced $3.99.
Now to the food. You’ll find standard American fare like burgers, an extensive grilled cheese menu, hot dogs, and breakfast served all day. On our latest trip, I had the “Stokes” – American cheese, tomato, and bacon on country white bread ($6.99) – with a side of tomato soup ($1.59). The sandwich was nicely crispy and not overly cheesy. The bacon made it too salty for me, but that’s a personal preference. I would have preferred the tomato also grilled with the sandwich, but not a big deal. The tomato soup was a letdown and tasted like plain no-frills condensed soup out of a can. No spices or real attention added. That’s what I get for trying a healthier route than just ordering fries.
Jamie ordered from the large breakfast menu and got the “Bacon Bettys” – humongous pancakes filled with crispy bits of bacon. It’s almost obscene how big these pancakes are. Even with a healthy adult appetite, he wasn’t able to eat half of the serving. We took home leftovers and got two additional breakfasts out of them. Why not reduce the price ($8.29) by a buck or two and make them a little smaller? While tasty, the pancakes aren’t spectacular, and you feel a bit silly with such a large plate in front of you.
So, what’s the verdict? You’ll spend a few bucks more per person than a greasy spoon diner, and your stomach will probably thank you for it. The deciding factor will likely be the atmosphere. Get there on off-peak hours and treat yourself to dessert, and you’ll be fine. Avoid Sunday mornings at all costs, unless you feel like shouting over the crowd, waiting for a table, and again for your food.