In case you haven’t noticed, pie is coming back in a big way. And not just any pie, I mean home made, quality, baked to perfection pie. The kind that you find yourself groaning about with each bite.
Now, there’s a couple spots in town, but I hadn’t really heard anything fantastic about any of them. Most feedback was about bleh crust, overly sweet fillings, or a lack of real fruit, and it was starting to seem like the art of marking pie had been lost somewhere along the years.
Luckily, this weekend, I decided to step outside of the downtown core, and quickly realized there was one place where the art of making pie was just that, art. Enter: the Pie Hole.
The second we walked into the Pie Hole, we immediately felt welcome in the rustic-chic environment. Wooden farm style tables lined the back wall, begging for you to sit down with a cup of coffee and order something to eat. And on the other side, bakers lined up assembling each pie from scratch and baking it with care.
An aroma of cherries filled the air, and mixed gloriously with the scent of buttery, freshly baked pie crust.
So what did we do? Grabbed a warm beverage of choice and took a seat, of course!
In no time we were greeted by Nancy, owner of the Pie Hole, who was happy to go through the offerings and help us choose the perfect dish. Her, along with her business partner, Torin, are the masterminds behind the Pie Hole and responsible for everything eblow.
We started with what I think of as morning meals – Quiches & Galettes.
The selection of offerings is quite large, considering that everything is made fresh daily. I feel sorry for the bakers that wake up at 4am to get going, but, you can’t help but appreciate their hard work once you take your first bite.
What perhaps surprised me about these pies was the incredible crust enveloping each filling. With a lightly crisp exterior, and a warm flaky bottom, it was beyond better than anything I’ve ever had from a store or in a restaurant. Stuff it with creamy feta or lightly scrambled eggs, and you’ve got yourself a home-cooked, comforting, and most importantly, delicious breakfast.
Served in single portions, we were pretty full by the time we took our last few bites. But, the smell of the sweet pies beckoned for us to make some room in our bellies, and we were obliged. Luckily, in addition to full sized pies, the Pie Hole makes a few hand pies each day, from whichever fruit filling it has on hand. Wrapped in their phenomenal crust, today’s selection was sour cherry. Oozing from the centre and warm to the touch. Perfect for sharing, but easy enough to eat on your own.
Within the first few bites, it was easy to see why sour cherry is a crowd favourite. Each cherry was tender, but still firm enough that you could feel it break and ooze its jam into your mouth. The tart flavour paired perfectly with the pie crust, which was dusted with a few sprinkles of baking sugar. Nothing about this pie was too sweet, too sugary, or too flavourless.
What I immediately came to notice after a few samples, was the quality that shines through the pies at Pie Hole, specifically because everything is made fresh daily. I can’t emphasize the crust enough, made from merely flour, butter, and a little bit of ice water. Then, worked at a minimum, to ensure it remains as flaky as possible and placed into a wooden, biodegradable ring to keep its shape.
And the fillings, again made from scratch, use high quality ingredients with as much as possible coming from local sources. And, when Nancy can’t get them locally, she works with farmers in Saskatchewan and British Columbia to supply herfruit needs. Working with seasonal flavours, this allows the pies to remain as fresh and flavourful as possible. Then, Torin (Pie Hole’s master baker), joined by the rest of the team, assemble the crusts and make it all come together.
Now, if you look at the Pie Hole’s website, you’ll realize there is a ton of selection. Lucky for you, all the savoury pies, quiches, and galettes come in single servings that you can take home and reheat. In the fridge, they’ll last for a couple days, or even better, pop them into the freezer for an effortless dinner after work. At $7-8 a pop, they’re quite the deal.
They key, is to reheat them low and slow. Everything within the pie is already cooked to perfection (including the crust), so all you want to do is warm the centre. The recommendation is to pop your pie onto a cookie sheet and place it in the oven. Then, turn the oven to 250F (or 300F if it’s weak like mine), and by the time the oven reaches that temperature, your pie should be ready. If you’re reheating from frozen, you might, however, want to give it an extra 5-10 minutes.
In that time you can make a salad, cook up a side, or just sit down and have yourself a drink. Easy as pie!
For the purposes of research, of course, we took a selection of pies home and have been sampling them throughout the week.
I’ve yet to have a disappointing one, and I can assure you that the crust remains just as exceptional as it was the day it was made. The fillings are hearty, and the fact that it’s all made from scratch makes them seem a little healthier than most other dinner options. Plus, it’s just so easy and the dish clean up is minimal 😉
We split half of our selection, taking them to Cole’s parents for a family dinner. And, after slicing each one up, the consensus was that Pie Hole makes a darn good pie.
My favourite of the bunch, has to be the potato galette. Inspired from scalloped potatoes, you’ll find tender slices of potato swimming in a creamy, buttery sauce and tossed gently with fresh herbs, all wrapped into a flaky puff-pastry-esque shell. It’s excellent with a side salad, but I could imagine it pairing perfectly with a BBQ dinner. Plus, it’s much more exciting than any baked potato I’ve ever had.
Others we tried were the chicken pot pie (a family favourite), Aussie Beef, and Steak & Mushroom. Apparently the Aussies & the Brits like their pies totally different, so the Pie Hole caters to both. The Aussie Beef is more of a “wet” pie, made from ground beef, while the Steak & Mushroom is made from sliced up steak and much more “dry”.
I never thought I would be promoting savoury pies over sweet pies. So, I think that’s really a testament to just how yummy they are. But of course, we all know I’ve got an insatiable sweet tooth, so naturally, I’ve got a few thoughts on the sweets too.
As I’ve already said, it’s easy to see why the sour cherry pie is the most popular. It’s perfectly tart and the cherries are one of a kind. They’re actually so popular (and only come from one specific farmer), that the Pie Hole sells sour cherry juice in bottles, in case you’re needing a little fix at home.
Since our visit, we’ve also devoured chocolate cream, key lime, and peach mango pies (single servings of course).
The chocolate cream & key lime both came piled high with whipped cream and were the perfect pie to eat cold. The filling was soft but flavourful, and yet again, not overly sweet. Perfect for a BBQ or picnic lunch. The peach mango, on the other hand, was light and fresh, with large chunks of peach and a hint of spice. Delicious warm or cool.
All in all, I was incredibly impressed by the Pie Hole and Cole & I are both looking forward to heading back for more. It’s pretty hard to pick favourites, however, because they were all absolutely delicious and really exceeded my expectations. As Nancy says, the only time you should shut your pie hole is when there’s pie in it…and with these pies, I don’t think I will ever open mine again!
Note: Closed Mondays & Tuesdays – Website here. Find them tucked behind Shaganappi Golf Course.
The making of this post was aided by the Pie Hole who contributed pie samples for my taste-testing pleasure, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. I can easily say these are the best pies I’ve ever had, and most certainly, the best in town. The fresh ingredients and effort put into each one, make them truly special for any occasion. If you’ve got an event in mind, Pie Hole also does custom orders (i.e. weddings) and will work with you to create that perfect treat. But, if you’re going to have a pie bar at yours, you better invite me. As they say, the Pie’s the Limit!