Thursday, January 27, 2011

Make the Pie Higher: Simplethings Sandwich & Pie Shop

I've been sort of ignoring the whole pie trend. In case you've been living under a culinary rock, there have been dozens of articles and blog postings recently about how pie is the new cupcakes. (As you may recall, about five years ago, cupcakes were the new tart yogurt, which was the new boba tea, etc.)

Don't get me wrong, I like pie. I mean, what's not to like? I just can't get that excited about it. I've always been a fan of Sweet Lady Jane's fruit pies, and I like a good, gooey coconut cream or a nice custard pie at Dupar's. I still haven't found a good chocolate cream pie in this town and would be excited for any tips, but pie just doesn't hold the excitement for me that cake or chocolate desserts do.

I stopped by Simplethings, on Third Street, to see what all the fuss was about. While they have three sizes, the most popular pies at Simplethings are about 3 inches in diameter. They are the cupcakes of pie. I tried a variety of everything they had when I stopped by.

Overall, I was underwhelmed. The fruit pies (apple, cherry and lemon bar) were disappointing. The lemon wasn't lemony enough and the cherry had no zing. But the real disappointment was the crust, which in many ways is the essence of pie (and what separates it from a compote or custard). It was doughy, chewy and lacking in flavor, almost as if it had been a mere afterthought.

The non-fruit pies were a bit better. The Missouri Mud was a nice chocolaty pie with a marshmallow center; sort of a play on s'mores. French silk was banana cream were pretty average versions. My favorite item was not a pie at all but the Boston Whoppee Pie, a whoppee pie with chocolate frosting and a creamy filling.

Simplethings also has breakfasts, sandwiches and savory pot pies, none of which I sampled.

If this is what the pie trend has to offer, I may go back to cupcakes.

Simplethings Sandwich & Pie Shop

8310 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, cA 90048
(323) 592-3390


Anonymous said...

I, OTOH, love pies, and Simplethings' apple (the only 1 I tried, or could afford) was such a huge disappointment. Maybe it's simply (sorry) impossible to bake a good 3" pie? And then there's the whole pie in the jar concept. Please give me the crust back.

This is such a huge shame since we will be visiting Cedar on the regular for the next 2 months.

sku said...

So Tony, where do you go for great pies?

sam k said...

A three-inch pie is going to have way too much crust-to-filling ratio to be good even if the filling was top notch. Pie-in-a-jar? What the hell is that, and why?

I'm much more a fruit pie guy, believing for many years that good double-crust pie is the highest and finest form of fruit dessert, especially if it's blackberry. I'm glad the throngs are catching up, even if it will be for a predictably limited engagement.

Here in central PA, the best pies are made by my friend Dorothy Walker, in her certified kitchen, with a flaky crust and filling that is mostly the host fruit. A nine-incher for six bucks is tough to beat.

I stay away from the Amish bakers, though. All white flour and gloppy, gooey filler, always short on fruit.

sku said...

Sam, I think you hit the nail on the head with regard to the crust to filling ratio. I also think the filling cooks faster than the crust when you have that little of it.

If I'm ever in Central PA, I will definitely seek out those pies.