Novelty restaurants are a dime a dozen these days, with craft food enthusiasts whipping up any concept of niche food for fun, shoehorning in an overarching culinary theme that is just as half-baked as the quality of their food. Right across from one very successful novelty restaurant, the Art District’s Wurstküche, comes another: The Pie Hole. A play on pies and eating that is quite understated and quaint compared to the ‘küche, Pie Hole attracts you in with their quaint creativity that we very well hope will lures you in.
The restaurant is a lot of things, all of which exceed your exceptions. You walk in expecting it to be a cute, cookies and cream, sugar and spice only pie shop but it’s extremely multi-faceted. They carry the normal line-up of pies, Lemon Meringue to Poached Pear and Cranberry, to weirder pies, like Mexican Chocolate and Maple Custard. The most surprising/most unsurprising are their savory pies, which span from large, meaty empanada-like pies to your basic chicken pot pie. Atop of that, they carry lots of (non-alcoholic) drinks, that very well could have you in there for some late morning tea or an evening’s coffee with some pie.
It’s a cozy, woody space that is meant to evoke that of a home or church potluck. And, if you aren’t comfortable enough there, you could even take your pies home, which they ask before preparing anything for you. As we were in a hurry, we opted for the take-out option, where the woman helping us explained how to prepare the pies when at home (namely, the savory would need heating up, etc.). We parted with three “dinner” pies–the mandatory Chicken Pot Pie, the special Farm, and the side Mac n Cheese–and two of their sweet pies, Mexican Chocolate and Maple Custard. Let’s dive in, pie hole first.
So, the Chicken Pot Pie. A little smaller than expected, but cute with it’s little cross dimple at the center, this pie was bready and was your traditional pie turned a little untraditional. The biggest difference is that there wasn’t any “gravy,” if you will. When you fork into the pie, it doesn’t ooze or spill itself out before you; instead, it waits for you dive in, consuming at your leisure. The pie is full of chunky chicken, carrots, peas, and, most surprisingly, mashed potatoes, which sit at the top of the pie, dripping down like a potato gravy. It’s hard for me to think of any particularly good chicken pot pies in Los Angeles but I can certainly name some very bad ones I’ve had in town. Pie Hole’s addition to Los Angeles’ Pot Pies is a welcomed one because it is just plain good.
However, The Farm pretty much dwarfed the Chicken Pot Pie because it was so damned interesting. The Farm is a “hand pie,” which basically means it’s a big empanada. The Farm rounds up a little bit of everything–ground lamb, beef, some pork belly, kielbasa–and throws them all in the a crispy dough shell with some kale, black eyed peas, and gravy. It’s the manliest pie I’ve ever tasted, nicely spiced and full of gooey gravy drenched meats. This pie was the special the day we went and, boy, is it special. We can only hope that this definite crowd pleaser of a pie is going to become a permanent fixture on the menu.
The Mac n Cheese hand pie was definitely weird because, basically, it’s a pie with macaroni and cheese inside. It was kind of like the movie Inception but pie/macaroni and cheese. The outside of this soft dough is covered in dry cheese that, when cracked, reveals large macaroni noodles covered in creamy cheese: it’s bread inside of bread, covered in cheese. It’s delicious, though, both the bread casing and soft pasta teaming up together in a carbohydrate celebration. (Don’t let that deter you, though: just chant to yourself affirmations that it has half the calories because it’s from a nice restaurant.)
Now, the sweet pies. I was most excited to try the Mexican Chocolate as the Maple Custard resembled something fished out from the bottom of the La Brea Tar Pits and placed onto pie crust. The Mexican Chocolate was good, a cinnamon and chocolate collision, light cream atop of it like clouds overhead. It was good and pleasing: there weren’t any complaints! However, like the Chicken Pot Pie is to The Farm, the Mexican Chocolate pie is to the Maple Custard.
The Maple Custard pie is a weird, weird, weird treat of sweetness. It’s very hard to describe or even figure out what it even is. Of course, it’s a maple custard, but that sounds like something mythical and maybe pulled from Downtown Abbey. Frankly, I would never order this old people pie ever, if it weren’t for the woman work there’s strong recommendation. And, as mentioned, it looks scary, like soft dinosaur skin. It is the opposite of all of that: it’s this soft, light, pumpkin-pie-consistency pie that really just tastes like dulce de leche minus the leche. It was an absolute delight and is, hands down, the best pie I’ve ever eaten in Los Angeles, savory or sweet.
Pie Hole is the best novelty or niche restaurant I think I’ve ever eaten at in Los Angeles. It goes all the way in its novelty, literally selling only pies, a dedication to their craft that nobody else in town has been able to follow through on so nicely. Moreover, by centering their cuisine on pies they place themselves perfectly in the center of the current home food, Grandma’s cooking, low end/high end food trend that is proliferating restaurants. We applaud Pie Hole and will most definitely be back. You most certainly have to go, too.
Now, if only they could sell liquor…