In general, pies are something I'm not too familiar with nor do I really go out of my way to seek it out. Growing up, while my American classmates in school would sometimes brag about their respective mothers/grandmothers baking the best pies... the best counter I could offer was that my Korean grandmother made some mean rice cakes (떡) which, I think she actually just bought them from the store...
Nevertheless, when pie was offered at events or in the homes of my non-Asian friends, I politely accepted a slice and found them agreeable if not a tad bit sweet. I especially couldn't understand how, right after a big meal, anyone had the room to stomach such a big slice of baked carbs and syrupy fruit fillings or rich chocolate mousses and such.
It was only when I was a university student and studying abroad in London that I was awakened to the world of savory pies and how a pie could then become a meal. Pasties were how they were referred to over there but it blew my mind that the contents of these pastries could contain savory fillings of meat, vegetables, gravy and... the sky was really the limit!
While visiting my parents in Portland my parents took me to the Pacific Pie Company which has apparently been growing in fame as of late, even being featured in a number of publications and food networks.
True to being a Portland eatery, the joint utilizes local ingredients and accommodates a wide variety of dietary needs including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. In addition to selling a number of pies and other sweet goods for take out, Pacific Pie Company also serves lunch, dinner and drinks and has seating inside for diners. Soups, salads and other light snacks and starters are on the menu as well as savory pies, pasties and other dishes in a wide variety of flavors.
The four of us that day went with the classic chicken pot pie, the black bean and jack pie (vegan and gluten-free), the spinach and feta pastie (vegan) and the beef shepherd's pie.
Here were the dishes when they first arrived.
Clockwise from top left: chicken pot pie, spinach and feta,
beef shepherd's pie and black bean and jack
One of the dishes I had really been craving to eat during my time in the States was a shepherd's pie and luckily for me it was highly recommended by our server so I went ahead and ordered it for myself.
Piping hot came the shepherd's pie which was topped with a golden cheesy layer of cheddar atop the mashed potatoes. The dish comes with a small side salad which was fresh and a nice mix of greens, shredded carrots and sliced radish. I chose a vinaigrette for my dressing.
Beef Shepherd's Pie
Digging in, the mashed potato was a good 1/2 inch or so thick which gave way to a gravy-rich beef and veggie medley. Creamy mash, savory beef and veggies and a hint of mellow cheddar... this was American comfort food at its finest. Everything from the ratio to the flavors was a clear winner.
Inside the beef shepherd's pie
My mother's spinach and feta pastie came in a flaky, sesame seeded pocket. The plump pastry was actually filled with filling and not air like many other places. The spinach wasn't soggy but tender and made all the more smooth by the creamy feta. I didn't taste or see as much of the tomatoes that were said to be in the mix but I didn't find it a major issue.
Spinach and Feta Pastie
Pops went with the chicken pot pie, another classic comfort food. The roux was perfectly seasoned with clear cuts of chicken, peas and carrots . I think a bit more veggies could have been added but it was still tasty enough.
Classic chicken pie
Stuffed and satisfied, we also decided to pick up a pie to take home with us on our way out. Pacific Pie Company has an interesting system for frequent customers in which one makes a $5 deposit for the clear pyrex pie plates the pies come in and can be returned and refunded at any time.
All the pies are 9.5" and each go for 25 dollars (plus the 5 dollar deposit) and are meant to serve eight. Flavors include marionberry, chocolate cream, apple sour cream streusel and more.
We decided to take home a key lime pie for our brother who didn't join and that night we dug in, in true American style, after dinner.
Key lime pie
Instructions included in box on pie storing, reheating and serving
Each slice of the yellowish-green pie filling was topped with a dab of whipped cream and a little slice of lime which gave it a nice appealing aesthetic.
After dishing out the slices, we each scooped up our first bites and.... silence. Yes, it was creamy and plenty of lime involved, but a tablespoon of sugar would have probably been less sweet than a bite of this pie. From filling to crust, the pie was just too sweet to be enjoyed thoroughly and was washed down with copious amounts of tea. Most of us weren't even able to finish our respective slices and decided to save it in the fridge to take with some dark coffee in the morning.
Slice of too sweet key lime pie
Since this was the one and only sweet pie I tasted from Pacific Pie Company, I can't comment on how their other sweet pies are but based on the key lime, Pacific Pie Company may need to cut down on the sugar inclusion lest their frequent customers soon come down with diabetes.
The savory pies and other dishes, however, are splendid and are sensibly priced if not slightly small in portion for those with bigger appetites. The dishes and pies taste homemade and made with care and attention and would certainly make a nice place for a quick and easy lunch.
Ratings: 3 out of 4 stars
1520 SE 7th AvePortland, OR 97214
Draft beers, wines and cocktails all available as is kombucha (how Portlandish!)
Drop by during the joint's happy hour (M-F, 3-6 PM) and enjoy specials like a savory pie and a pint for 8 bucks, sweet pie and coffee/tea for 5 bucks and other specials on bites and drinks!