Hang on; my taste buds are still recovering.

A “Labor of love is the only way to describe Detroit’s newest pop-up eatery, POP. Located downtown in Cadillac Square, owners Timothy Tharp and Dave Gregory give purpose to an unused space and the opportunity for professional and amateur chefs alike to showcase their skills.

Checker Bar

Walking up the stairs to POP, you can immediately tell it’s different than the Checker Bar downstairs, which has a classic American vibe. Upstairs, authentic Indian music floats down to you as you climb the steps and the delicious aromas of Jesse Knott and Lindsay Salminen’s cooking pull you higher – but only for one night.

The space can be described as minimalist and impromptu, but also cool. Dimly lit light fixtures illuminate the bare-bones operation. It’s exactly what you’d expect and want from a pop-up venue, anything more and we’d lose the feel of spontaneity.

POP Door

The food speaks for itself. To be perfectly honest, I was ill-prepared for ingredients like apple, pineapple, and coconut to all intermingle and set my mouth on delicious fire, but it was a wonderful surprise. Indian food can be spicy, but its always full of flavor.

Don’t worry, Detroit Delhi offers meals that won’t set your tongue ablaze. With entrees like navarathan kuruma, nacho chaat, and braised goat biryani, they found a perfect balance in their menu to make everyone happy. The tragedy of the pop-up is that Detroit Delhi does not have an established venue restaurant, but if what they can do in a few hours at POP is anything to go by, they hopefully soon will.

nacho chaat

The Nacho Chaat

The food from Detroit Delhi was amazing, but the venue is an entirely different story. Steven Reaume saw a need for a permanent pop-up outlet and stepped up to the plate to fill it.

“We had this space when we bought the Checker Bar; it has a kitchen, it has a bar. It has everything you need for a restaurant. And we thought, ‘what a great way to give back to the community. To allow established pop-ups like Jesse as well as people who want to get into cooking and would love to do something like this,” manager Steve Reame said.

navarathan kuruma

The Navarathan-Kuruma

Each week, Steven invites different chefs and entrepreneurs in to use his space rent-free.

“Here, we have the resources,” he tells me, “we have the kitchen, we have the promotional machine – just everything they need to come in and do what they want to do.”

This endeavor isn’t about money at all. Reaume allows each pop-up to use the space rent free. The only revenue he sees is from the bar.

“The beauty of what we’re doing here… we don’t charge them. The kitchen is theirs. It’s their restaurant for the day. We bring in a busboy, we get the place set up, we loan them any kind of equipment they need that we have available here at the pub,” Reuame mentioned.

Tomorrow night, POP will be host to Nate Bonkowski’s  “Cook’s Crossing,”  a distinctive take on American Midwest street food, but don’t let the phrase “street food” mislead you. This is no hotdog-on-a-stick cuisine. Bonkowski promises dishes that combine traditional Midwest styles with global flavors. Be sure to go to the event page on Facebook to find out more.

POP has a unique dining experience every week. Even if you’re the pickiest of eaters, you will definitely find something worthy of your taste buds. 

Cooks Crossing will be bringing that unique American style to POP on February 19th.

POP is open every Thursday from 7 pm till 11 pm, or until the food runs out. To find out more and get a full list of what is popping up when, go to www.facebook.com/popdetroit or www.checkerbar.com. They are located at 124 Cadillac Square, Detroit.