Back in September, J and I went on a South Philly adventure along Passyunk Avenue, visiting a bunch of great establishments that are usually just out of reach. With a friend in town visiting, we decided to venture out again on a revisit to one of the stops we had made on our previous trip. Unfortunately, our first choice restaurant was packed, and we weren't willing to commit to a long wait. So down the street we went, checking menus and discussing options until we came to The Pub on Passyunk East (or P.O.P.E., for short). This had also been one of our stops last fall, and with our mildly pleasant memories and the pull of a warm, empty spot, we settled in.
The interior of the POPE certainly screams hipster, heavy on the dive. It's probably most well known for its drinks, but early on a Saturday night was quiet and just right for eating dinner and watching college basketball (Go Gators!). The menu is fairly simple, straight-up pub style that "pays heed to the craftsmanship kitchen of American classics," or at least according to their website. They also offer a handful of weekly specials that tend to focus on seasonal ingredients. J and I chose a salad off of the specials board to start our meal.
The salad ($6.50) was as eclectic as our surroundings, consisting of mixed greens and chopped Napa cabbage topped with sliced cucumber, pickled broccoli and red onion (!!), and spicy, crunchy chickpeas. We love anything pickled, so the unique preparation of broccoli had us fighting over the last piece. The chickpeas, assumedly baked, added an almost crouton-like texture while upping the satisfaction value with a kick of protein. The dressing, a sweet and spicy honey-ginger mix, brought it all together.
We both stuck with the vegan/vegetarian theme for our "main courses" (the POPE has many options for our meat- and dairy-free friends). It wasn't too difficult to choose the Grilled Vegetable Plate ($10), especially after our super sweet waitress gave it the thumbs up. She could tell I was somewhat worried about its satiety index, and immediately approved my choice and mentioned it as one of her own favorites. The monstrous plate arrived with quite a beautiful arrangement (particularly for a bar!), with a mound of smooth garlic mashed potatoes topped with a variety of grilled vegetables and a sweet balsamic reduction. Thick cut yellow squash and zucchini, soft roasted tomato slices, grilled red onion and juicy, meaty portabellas-- definitely veggie heaven. I had no problems (or guilt about) cleaning my plate.
As great as my dinner was, I had major food envy over J's choice: the nachos ($8). Listed as an appetizer, this dish easily serves as a meal for one (or maybe even two!), especially with the addition of meat. You can order these "regular," with cheese, sour cream, and the option of chicken or beef, or "vegan," with assumedly vegan variations of the dairy and a seitan topping ($3 extra for meat or meat-like substance). J went for the regular version (sour cream and cheese, please!) but with seitan crumbled over top. The pile of crunchy corn tortilla chips (great even on their own) was covered in shredded cheddar, a black bean-onion-tomato mix, jalapeno slices, sour cream and a generous heap of guacamole. Each chip came up with a slightly different variation of the toppings, every one just as good as the last. We don't often eat nachos, but these hit the spot. I may have continued to steal chips throughout the night.
While our dinner out wasn't what we had originally intended, we were all happy about our eventual experience. We found a great atmosphere for a meal shared with friends, and while the menu wasn't extensive, it certainly pleased us all. J and I are looking forward to warmer weather so we can make another leisurely trip down this strip of town, which will surely include at least a quick stop at The POPE.
Pub on Passyunk East
1501 Passyunk Avenue