Friday, March 15, 2013

Richmond Rave: Proper Pie Company

Today I made the observation that although I am chronically early to everything in real life, I am chronically late when it comes to blogging. Maybe someday I'll get ahead in the virtual world but for now, I'll just roll with it.

So, today I am going to write a pie-themed entry, even though I am one day late, as yesterday was Pi Day (3.14). In honor of the day, I did this:

But before that, I went to Proper Pie Company for lunch with my good friend Danielle. After all, is there a more appropriate day on which to eat pie for lunch?? I think not.

But first, a confession: this wasn't the first time I'd been to Proper Pie. Marcey and I went there post-Love Rox 10k and I had every intention of writing a Richmond Rave soon after. Obviously that didn't happen but I took lots of photos that day, so the photos that follow are from then.

Now that all disclosures have been taken care of...

Proper Pie Company is a tiny, delightful little shop in the Church Hill neighborhood in Richmond. Right now, Church Hill is the up-and-coming, hip neighborhood of the moment and lots of restaurants have been popping up there. I've heard great things about all of them, but Proper Pie was at the top of my "To Try" list for the simple reason that I. Love. Pie. Especially pie crust. When I'm making a pie at home, it takes every ounce of my self control to not just stand in the kitchen and eat the entire pie crust as I press it into the pie plate. When I eat pumpkin pie, I eat all of the pumpkin filling out of it and then enjoy the pie crust on its own. 

Yes, I know that's weird. But seriously, Pie Crust = <3

Anyway. Proper Pie Company is a Kickstarter success story. Started by Nikki and Neil, Proper Pie Company features pies in the style of New Zealand and Austrailia - in Nikki's own words: "It’s a hand-sized, hand-held, handmade meat and/or veggie pie that can serve as a snack or a meal." Basically, it's a hand held piece of heaven. Aside from the savory NZ/Aussie style pies, Proper Pie Co also sells a slew of sweet varietites and the menu changes daily - announced via Facebook and Twitter, of course.

Daily menu board
The space itself is small but wide open with a retro vibe. The walls are a minty green that I asssociate with the 50s and my grandmother's kitchen and the counter is gleaming silver. As you wait you get to see all the non-stop pie-making action going on in the kitchen. I myself was transfixed by one of the chefs making the crust (of course).

I believe that is owner/founder/chef Neil at work!
When Marcey and I arrived on a rainy Saturday at 1 pm, there was quite an insane line.

Luckily it moved very quickly. It seems that Proper Pie is mainly meant to be a grab and go kind of place. There are no servers and very few seats - just a 2 bar areas (you can see one in the above picture on the left - 6 seats; the other faces the front window and is another 6-8 seats) and two 2-person tables along the wall. In the case of all the seating areas, you are likely to be surrounding by/jostled by people standing in line, so don't expect a quiet kind of lunch. Even when Danielle and I went yesterday, the place was crammed full by 12:15.

Anyway, enough about that. On to the truly important stuff: PIE.

It was very difficult to choose what kind of pie to get. Savory or sweet? Traditional mince and cheese or the New Zealand favorite, Chicken and Kumara (the NZ version of the sweet potato)? Apple Cheddar, Chocolate, Lemon Meringue, or Strawberry Rhubarb???? Each time, I have decided to be completely gluttonous and get a savory and a sweet. In all honesty, the savories are on the small side, so I feel completely justified in getting both. 

Marcey & I got (starting in lower left corner, working clock wise):
Sausage Roll
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Apple Cheddar Pie
Mince & Cheese
Let me tell you folks, every bite of each of these pies was pure heaven. As we ate, Marcey and I paused after every bite and had small respective foodgasms. "Omigod this is so delicious!" "Seriously, is this not the  most amazing thing you've ever eaten?" "Oh, this place is BAD NEWS for me. BAD NEWS." "I don't want to keep eating because I don't want it to be all gone, but I can't stop!"

Danielle and I had a similar experience yesterday - even though I told myself I should be adventurous, I couldn't help but get the mince & cheese again, along with a slice of strawberry rhubarb. Danielle was the daring one - she got the chicken and kumara (which she said was delicious) and a slice of chocolate pie.

It's a very good thing that Proper Pie is located in Church Hill and not right next to my place of employment. If it was, I'd want to be there every single day, working my way through the menu. 

So, do yourself a favor - get to Proper Pie Company PRONTO. And then get a savory and a sweet. Trust me, you won't regret it. And at an average price of $5 for a savory and $5 per slice of sweet, it won't really break the bank either. 

The lowdown:
  • Parking is on the street and because of the wild popularity of the shop, it can be tricky. But you should be fine... just bring your parallel parking skills.
  • Proper Pie takes credit (on an iPad - so hip) and cash, so no worries about having to stop by the ATM.
  • Seating is incredibly limited and even when you get a seat, if it's busy you won't be comfortable. If you plan to try to eat there, I would recommend getting there a tiny bit before they open at Noon to ensure a spot at one of the bars. The tables are just impossible if there is a line - people will be standing on top of you.
  • Check out their Facebook and/or Twitter posts to get the pies of the day before you go. 
  • Be ready to stand in line, but don't freak out if it is long. The line will move quickly - the pies are pre-made, so they are grabbed out of the case and handed over in a matter of seconds. 
  • Be aware that once you have it, you will have to go back.

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