Step into Popover Bistro and Bakery in Simsbury and you will be immediately greeted with warm smiles, an aroma of fresh bread, and natural lighting that brightens the entire space around you. Everything in the space is colorful—from the turquoise blue walls to the seasonal salads—and makes you want to come back both for the food and the hospitality. The design of the restaurant reflects the same spirit in the name ‘Popover’—Manager Leigh Vaughn said “we just wanted it to be a fun place, an inviting environment, and a place everyone could just come and enjoy themselves.”
Popover was founded in 2014 by owners Pam, Sara, Shannon, and David who were not only on a mission to serve exceptional breakfast and lunch food, but to provide options for guests with allergies, a focus that restaurants have been starting to address in the past few years. Vaughn said that Popover tries “to give everyone a variety. All of our smoothies are gluten free and vegan, our waffles are gluten-free, we have gluten-free breads…we really try to cater to everyone’s needs. There’s really nothing else like that around here.”
While Popover is primarily focused on providing gluten-free and some dairy-free options, they are also committed to serving local produce, organic, and farm-to-table ingredients. Vaughn says as summer approaches, they will source ingredients from local farms— “They’ll just call us each week and tell us what is fresh and what will be good. We make specials based off of that, or incorporate it into what’s already on our menu.” On the menu for summer? “Probably a couple more smoothie bowls, our stuffed popovers don’t change too much just because they’re so popular, but sometimes we’ll get a specialty waffle on there or our avocado toast might change seasonally…our salad bowls will as well.”
The food was just as fresh, innovative, and colorful as Vaughn said it would be. Chef Jay brought out a bowl he created just for me to try—over a bed of mixed greens and shredded asparagus were slices of blood oranges, red quinoa, crisp blueberries, heirloom tomatoes, tear drop peppers and shredded crab meat. It was a work of art, with every color of the rainbow and intricate details like fresh flowers and herbs for a garnish. The fruits and vegetables tasted incredibly fresh, were crispy, and naturally vibrant in color. A large, crispy popover accompanied the salad—it had flaky layers of dough that paired perfectly with their homemade honey butter.
I then tried a Burrata salad, which Vaughn said is a very “in” ingredient right now. Over a bowl of mixed greens was a creamy ball of burrata, flavorful and crunchy garlic-parmesan croutons, bright teardrop peppers, fresh basil, olive oil, and rich balsamic vinegar. Vaughn shares that Chef Jay graduated from UVM for business and then attended culinary school in Italy. Back stateside, he worked at a variety of restaurants in New York and then he owned a restaurant on the shore in Connecticut, which recently sold and “he was looking for something to have a little fun with so we got him!”
Now that Popover is officially on its 3rd year, Vaughn notes that she has seen business start to boom. “We’re a small spot, but for instance on Memorial Day we were on an hour and a half wait all day long. It was just madness. Mother’s Day was also super, super busy as well. That was definitely our busiest day.” Additionally, Vaughn says that Popover is becoming known for quality gluten-free and vegan options. The guests are no longer just coming from Simsbury or West Hartford, but all across the state. “I had someone call the other day for Sunday brunch and they were like ‘We just heard about this place and it’s gonna take us a little bit to get there but we want those waffles.’”
Popover has also started booking more private events and catering events, including a recent rehearsal dinner. Vaughn said the rehearsal dinner was especially special and “beautiful…all these tables had amazing appetizers, and you can customize the chalkboards to feature your bridal party, it’s really cool.” Additionally, Popover catered the Talcott Mountain Music Festival with picnic, boxed to-go dinners and is started a kids’ summer series including “Chef’s Junior Night and Princess Tea Party.”
“There’s nothing better than working at a place where you know what you’re giving someone is great and that they’re really going to enjoy it.”
Popover Bistro and Bakery is located at 928 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT. Their hours are M-F 7am-4pm, Saturday 7:30am-4pm, and Sunday 7:30-3pm. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates, special events, and of course pictures of their incredible bowls and salads.