Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Family Pie Shop
Review by: Jane & Michael Stern
** THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED **
The Pie Shop is not a restaurant. It is more an annex of Mary Thomas’s home, built out of a former bicycle shed, now filled with tools of the baker’s art. Mrs. Thomas starts making pies in the morning, and by lunchtime there might be half a dozen varieties available, the favorites including pineapple, apple, lemon, cream, coconut, and sweet potato, all laid out in gorgeous golden brown crusts that rise up like fragile pastry halos around their fillings. Her Karo nut pie (the Southern cook’s name for what the rest of the world knows as pecan pie) is a tawny temptress packed with halves of nuts in a profoundly sweet suspension. The meringues on her cream pies are snow white, decorated with tiny grid mark swirls at their cloudy peaks. Fried pies — individual-serving half-moon pockets filled with apples or peaches — shatter into ethereal fragments as soon as they are hit by fork or teeth.
Mrs. Thomas has been selling pies to the public since 1977. Her customers include pie hounds from all the nearby towns as well as devotees who drive from as far away as Little Rock (or in some cases send their chauffeurs) for whole pies to take home. Others wander over from Craig’s Barbecue across the street in search of something sweet and soothing (such as the sublime sweet potato pie or chocolate pie) after a bout with fiery barbecue. She used to sell every kind of pie she made by the slice, but now she obliges those of us without a nearby dinner table by selling mini-pies, about two slices’ worth. If you will be traveling through DeValls Bluff and crave pie, be sure to call ahead and make sure Mary is baking that day. Her usual days are Wednesday through Saturday, but that can vary.
Note: Mary Thomas passed away in the Spring of 2016. The future of her pie shop is currently unknown.
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