February 10, 2004
Here’s the thing about Poppycocks: Everything about it says “Diner.” The laminated, checkered menus, the bar stools and milk shake makers, the large bakery case, the casual atmosphere…all classic “diner” stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love the retro-ish feel of the diner, but when you look at the Poppycocks menu you’ll notice that there is nary a chicken fried steak to be found. In fact, where chicken fried steak SHOULD be in a proper diner menu is instead a wild mushroom pasta dish in a tarragon cream sauce topped with parmesan and walnuts.
So, it would seem that Poppycocks has done something quite amazing–combined the coolness of the diner atmosphere with some food that clearly transcends the stereotypical diner cuisine. Oh, you can still get a Chili Dog ($5.75), but it will be one made with no nitrites, colorings or preservatives in it, and there’s a good chance you won’t miss that stuff. But you can also get Grand Marnier French Toast, breaded with pecans and topped with bananas, Grand Marnier butter, cinnamon and powdered sugar ($6.25). Typical diner dish? Don’t think so.
As you can tell by the operating hours listed above, Poppycocks is only open for breakfast and lunch (lunch only on Sunday), allowing them to concentrate on a fine pre-sundown spread.
Along with the standard beverage list of coffee, tea, and sodas, they also have a full coffee menu of cappuccinos, espressos and lattes. Or, you can start your morning (or afternoon) with a strawberry, banana or peach smoothie ($3.45), or a Health Drink — like a smoothie, only fortified with protein powder. There are four Health Drinks to choose from, and they include varied combinations of things like pineapples, apricots, bananas, lemon, honey, nuts, raisins, strawberries, blueberries and peaches. I had a strawberry, blueberry, banana peach and protein one, and my companion and I each got a straw and shared it. Awww…
Enough drinking, on to breakfast. I didn’t ask my waitress to verify this, but I am almost certain that POPPYCOCKS is an acronym for “Pancakes, Oh Perfect Pancakes, You Concoct Outrageous CaKeS!” These pancakes, which are served all day, are nothing short of gourmet, and all in the $5.50 range. The standard Old Fashioned Oatmeal Buttermilk cakes are crisp on the outside, moist on the inside, and you can take home a 32 ounce bag of batter mix to make at home for $6.95. It was a painful experience for me, having to choose between Macadamia Nut Oatmeal, Blueberry Granola, and Apple Oat Bran cakes, but I went for the blueberry and never looked back. An easy 10 on the Yum Scale.
If it’s eggs you’re needing, try the Spinach Eggs, poached eggs on an English muffin smothered with rich creamed spinach and cheese, $5.95, or Manhattan Eggs-three eggs scrambled with smoked salmon, green onion, tomato and cream cheese on top of a bagel. All egg dishes are served with plump country potatoes until 11:30.
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Their crepes, also available all day, are made with a whole wheat batter and are larger than your normal crepe, making them a meal in themselves. The Veggie Crepe is an egg, cheddar cheese, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, tomato and onion medley for $5.95. Or try the Creamed Spinach Crepe for $5.25 or the Ham Crepe for $5.95. Dessert Crepes include Strawberry, Banana-Chocolate and the Strawberry-Banana-Chocolate Combo, each topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar and costing just $4.95.
For lunch you have a delicious variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and pastas. The Sliced Turkey sandwich, served on pumpernickel with tomatoes, lettuce and sherried mayonnaise is only $5.95 and includes, like all sandwiches, soup du jour or green salad. The Poppycocks Club is a triple decker layered with bacon, turkey, lettuce, tomato and mayo for $6.95, or you could have that chili dog I mentioned earlier, topped with beef chili, cheddar cheese and onion- $5.75.
The Pesto Pasta is a spinach linguine with roasted pinenuts, goat cheese and pesto sauce is $7.75. That Wild Mushroom pasta dish that I taunted you with at the beginning is also $7.75. All Pasta dishes come with a small green salad and french bread.
A children’s menu is also available for lunch, with linguine, grilled cheese, hot dogs, or turkey sandwiches all $3.50-$4.50. All menu items are available for take-out as well.
I remember Poppycock’s when it used to be housed in the old Brand Building, back in the time before every little thing was a violation of something, they used to stack up the lemon rinds on top of the other in the window after making fresh lemonade. It was neighborly, familiar and inviting there. Bee and Paul Poh, the current owners of Poppycocks, have managed to perpetuate that same sense of the friendly as well as continuing to provide delectable breakfasts and lunches. Poppycock’s will be open for the off-season.