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Posted by Chris & Amy Ayers on Monday, August 26, 2013 9:29 AM

straw rhub pie

Driving back from Maine via Boston, our friends Nancy & Julie left behind a pie for us. It was a strawberry-rhubarb pie that Julie had bought, but she was ultimately disappointed. "I think the real problem with that pie was that the strawberries were frozen, and maybe the rhubarb, too," she explained. We eagerly ate a slice and were underwhelmed. The next day, we tried a second piece -- sometimes pies are better the next day, right? -- and promptly threw it in the garbage. Wasteful? Yes, but this underlines a more arresting issue: how many pies we've avoided or discarded over the years.

choc pecan pie

Julie later added, "The real fundamental problem is that this place wouldn't sell me a slice. I wouldn't normally buy a whole pie, but this was an emergency." A pie emergency, which we completely understand! Oh, the sights we've seen in markets, bakeries, and farm stands across the country: the most beautiful pies, plump with fruit, their tawny crusts anticipating the first fork tines to break the surfaces. Or the cream pies, with their mile-high meringues and myriad fillings that effortlessly entice us to indulge. Yet we've left behind so many half-eaten slices at restaurants! To wit, we've probably eaten more lousy pies than stellar ones, but we're certainly not pie snobs...or are we?

millionaire pie

We, too, are surprised over the number of establishments that only sell whole pies. We've stopped going to our local pie shop for that reason. In their defense, they sell "individual" (six-inch) pies, but that's not the same as a slice from a normal-sized pie: the crust/filling ratio is skewed, and we prefer slices anyway. These days, it's becoming more difficult to find good pie in restaurants. Even menus that advertise "homemade pies" are often below par. Unless you have researched pie locations thoroughly beforehand, happening upon a good pie is basically luck.

apple with cheddar

Which is why we revel in the truly great pies...but shall continue to discard the lousy ones. Life is too short to waste stomach space on inferior food! (Pies pictured, from top to bottom: Wild Oats Bakery, Brunswick, ME; Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Chicago, IL; A Slice of Pie, Rolla, MO; Wayside Restaurant, Berlin, VT)


Please tell me the apple beauty with the cheese slices wasn't ultimately disappointing. It looks so good. I like to say there are no statistical emergencies, but they may actually be easier to solve than pie emergencies.
Posted by Nancypalooza on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 10:05 AM

Few things make me happier than pie photos, but a post by Nancypalooza on Roadfood is one of those things! Love the last line about life being too short to waste stomach space on inferior food.
Posted by buffetbuster on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 10:12 AM

No, the apple pie with cheddar was GREAT! I'd've preferred a sharper cheddar, but it was Cabot brand so I can't complain. Cliff, how often do you leave a slice of pie half unfinished at a restaurant? Or do you eat it anyway, even though it's subpar?
Posted by ayersian on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 10:38 AM

I was very under whelmed by the pies I have tried from Hoosier Mama's. Others rave about them.
Posted by ann peeples on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 11:04 AM

Chris, it happens all the time, including twice yesterday. I order a lot of pies, but typically only write about the good ones. And bless those pie shops that will sell you a slice, because I have had to pass up so many that are only interested in selling whole pies.
Posted by buffetbuster on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 11:15 AM

I am boggled by the vast variation in pie quality I encounter. A restaurant that appears to take pride in the quality of their work will cheerfully, with their bare face hanging out, serve a pie whose crust appears to be made of spackle and library paste.
Posted by Ralph Melton on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 12:44 PM

Ironically one of the worst slices of pie ever served to me is the feature restaurant today
Posted by wanderingjew on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 12:47 PM

If you're a sweet pie-by-the-slice lover you NEED to come to Proper Pie Co. in Richmond VA. The guy who runs it is from New Zealand and the Kiwis know how to make pie. You can get savory pies as well. The place has been closed all this month so that the owner and his wife could visit family in New Zealand and the whole neighborhood and much of the city is going through pie withdrawal. There's going to be an absolute feeding frenzy around here on 9/4 when the shop reopens.
Posted by MandalayVA on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 5:50 PM

I hear ya, guys! I've been to places that only sell whole pies (orchards & bakeries, mostly). Almost all restaurants I've been to sell whole pies and slices. Mini pies/pie cups are nice but the ratio of crust to filling is never the same. I have found that if I go to a restaurant and say, "Are you pies homemade?" an overeager server will almost immediately say, "YES!!!" but if I say, "Where do you get your pies from?", the answer requires a bit more thought and I have gotten more candid repsonses that way. Some are made in-house, some are Sysco, etc... BTW, those slices at Harry's Roadhouse in Santa Fe really did raise the bar for what I expect a slice of pie to be!
Posted by billyboy on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 6:34 AM

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