From time to time I think I'll write on new places I'm checking out. And since I'm totally into pie I thought I'd check out The Pie Hole. A very unassuming place in the Arts District of Downtown LA (translate: Bohemian, rundown, "don't-be-caught-dead-at-night"). Across the street is Wurstkuche. I suggested we try that for lunch and then hop across the street and have pie at The Hole, but since we only had an hour to eat and the line out of the wiener factory was out the door we decided to have both savory and sweet pies.
I come from Minnesota. We do pies. We do pies very, very well. My first job at Ella's Cafe in Chatfield, Minnesota (don't ya know), had a pie baker who came in twice a week and made pies and the sweet rolls for our Sunday Brunch (trust me, in the 70's we didn't call it brunch....more like Sunday Dinner After Church). She made all kinds of pies and they were delicious. My favorite was sour cream raisin pie, that at first sounds kind of revolting but, man, was absolutely delicious.
I have been hankering with the idea of pies for quite some time. There have been articles about how "PIE" is the next big thing. After cupcakes (bye, bye). And faster coming-on than macarons (si'l vous plait!). So, apparently Pie Hole has entered the fray. There are a few other places that offer pie, but The Pie Hole is definitely about the pie.
My first impression was, "Thank God there are people here." It always makes me nervous to go to a restaurant around meal time and no one is there. Kind of says something. The Wurst factory across the street was definitely saying something with its long lines and so was TPH, just not as loudly. Service is pretty much self-serve. I don't mind this. It cuts down on labor. You order at the counter, take your number, and they bring it out to you. We didn't strike our own dishes and I'm not sure if others did either. Salt and pepper were in little "to-go" packets as were hot sauce and other condiments. I didn't like that so much, but who cares, right?
The display case of pies was, in a word, very disappointing. The case was dark, no lighting, and everything just looked kind of homely. Not homey, which I don't mind, but homely. Like they needed a serious dressing up. We had a choice of Mexican Chocolate Cream, Maple Custard, Lemon Meringue, and a Tea (with something) cream pie, and a fresh strawberry pie. Savory pies were Chicken Pot, Chilean, Vegetarian, and Mac & Cheese. We picked the Chicken Pot, Mac & Cheese, Lemon Meringue, and Mexican Chocolate. The bill came to $20+.
We took our number and sat down. They immediately brought us the sweet pies first. Served on a piece of paper on a plate they looked (well, like the pictures). I couldn't wait and had to have a sample. The filling of the lemon meringue was delicious, the meringue was wonderful. The crust.....was horrible. Thick and doughy and not cooked all the way through.
A woman behind us who had the last slice of blueberry crostata asked that it be returned because the crust was raw. She was told, "that's the way it's supposed to be". She said, "Since when is raw dough supposed to be right way?" But the filling! The Mexican chocolate, though a smaller piece than its lemon counterpart, was quite good. Just the right amount of cinnamon and salt. The pie was topped with espresso infused whipped cream. Again, very good. Just kind of homely, like I said before.
After we had eaten about a third of each pie the savories appeared. The Mac & Cheese was molten hot inside and the crust on this pie was done nicely. But the entire thing was bound with too much flour and was not seasoned....at all. The Chicken Pot Pie suffered from the same binding problem and the crust wasn't as flakey as I'd hoped. It too could have benefited from a salt shaker...
All in all, a good experience. the restaurant itself could use a dress-up with maybe some nice pictures (their website is wonderful), and the staff is very friendly, enthusiastic and upsells successfully. I mean, I really wanted to eat here after listening to our order taker. And the pies were good. Except for the crust on the lemon meringue the sweet pies were good.
Will I be back? Yes, if I'm in the neighborhood. Interesting place, the Arts District. I bet it gets real interesting at night!