The Pie Shoppe
Vancouver has seen a recent revitalization of its dessert scene with macarons popping up rampantly in 2011, doughnuts coming to the fore in 2012, and French-inspired bakeries such as Theirry, Cadeaux and Beaucoup offering up their delicate treats made from top-shelf ingredients. We couldn’t be happier. The latest addition to the desert scene is The Pie Shoppe, a teensy, low-key affair in Chinatown/Strathcona, an area that’s recently been gentrified with the addition of a condo and various attendant dining options. Appropriately named, The Pie Shoppe is a venture run by sisters Stephanie and Andrea French and their concept could not be more simple or more effective: they serve up slices of pie and its natural companion, coffee. We love the idea of small, independent operations focusing on one thing and doing it well – and this is a prime example. They opened their operations in mid-December, 2012 after just a 9-day build and their venue is cheap and cheerful, with a cozy, 2-3 seat counter if you’re ‘dining in’, as well as a record player and vinyl collection lending just the right indie, home-style vibe.
There’s something incredibly old-fashioned, timeless and even all-American about pie and we hadn’t had much luck finding a good slice in Vancouver until we visited The Pie Shoppe. When we stopped in recently on a frosty day, Pecan Chocolate, Blueberry, a Raspberry Cobbler, as well as a gluten-free option (if you are so inclined) were all temptingly displayed on the counter. We indulged in a slice of Chocolate Pecan ($7) – composed of whole pecans mixed with a syrupy filling and topped with a splotch of chocolate, it definitely satisfies your sweet tooth and is not for the faint of heart. We took a whole Blueberry ($25) home and there was what seemed like a whole pint of the juicy fruit therein – the berries were so abundant it was almost possible to convince ourselves we were eating something healthy. We loved the consistency of the filling – some pies are so gloopy with thickening agents their insides are a coagulated mess – but this one was light and bright, allowing the fruit to shine through. Piecrust is always a difficult thing to do well, and here it is just right – flakey but firm, it held the filling well but was tender enough to willingly give way to the gentle pressure of a fork.
The flavours at The Pie Shoppe rotate as their pies are baked throughout the day but if you’re wondering what will be in stock , check their twitter feed where they post their daily options by around 10 o’clock that include classics like Apple, Bubbleberry (raspberries, blueberries, cranberries), and various crisps too. When we were hopeful Coconut Cream might be on offer, we were assured they happily take special orders for whole pies with a bit of advance notice. Coffee is pie’s natural accompaniment and the beans they serve are from the Stephanie French’s own local micro roasting company, Panoramic Roasters – the beans are roasted in small batches in a rooftop in Kitsilano. The cup we tried was prepared fresh using the pour over method (they offer hand drip coffee or French press, no espresso) and while the flavours were bright, the coffee was a bit weak for our liking – we like a robust cup of brew. We’ll try the French press next time since we’ll definitely be back for more pie.