In case you haven’t heard, pies are the new cupcakes. And with all the sweet shops dotting our landscape, most of them with tasty enough pies, picking the best one comes down to a couple of things for me: experience and proximity.
Check and check, ever since Chris Porter (below) opened A La Mode Pies on Phinney ridge and 59th a couple of weeks ago.
He not only gave the pie-neglected Phinney/Greenwood/east Ballard neighborhoods a much needed boost but also carved out a mini community center of sorts.
A little backstory: For the last couple of years, the former Indiana-based television news reporter has been making pies in the kitchen at Knee High Stocking Company on Capitol Hill and—get this—delivering them to their lucky Seattle area recipients. Yes, Virginia, pies delivered to your doorstep.
When my older son declared earlier this year that he wanted birthday pie instead of cake, this is what won this always-looking-for-the-shortcut-working-mom over.
That, and a city-wide taste test we did of the pie shops.
We ended up going with his scrumptious and perfect-for-kids pie pops in Blue Hawaiian (blueberries, pineapple, coconut)—circular 4 or 5 bite mini pies speared on wide tongue depressor sticks—with a toaster-strudel-esque zig zag drizzle of icing atop it. I love his nod (intentional or otherwise) to pop food culture.
When he dropped the pies off, Chris told me about his plans to take over the space soon to be vacated by the semi-creepy old doll shop, across from the 7-11 near the Woodland Park Zoo.
Weber Thompson Interior Design and Graphic Design converted the space, adding a gleaming kitchen complete with white subway tiles and big picture windows that let you watch all the bakers in action.
But my favorite part is the centerpiece of the shop—a beautiful dark wood bar where you can belly up and enjoy a slice.
Chris is behind that bar or making pies in the pie shop every day, chatting up customers and swapping pie stories. He is one of those guys that makes you want to have a slice of pie just to have an excuse to gab with him, and as a result, he’s created the corner tavern for the sweet tooth set. Judging from the fact that the place was packed at 10 am on a recent Sunday (Who is eating pie at 10 a.m. Sunday morning?), it’s happy hour every day.
Oh yes, and then there are the pies. My favorites are Key lime and Mexican chocolate mousse (shown above and below)—both of which are best when super fresh and the towering soft-serve cone like swirl of whipped cream is still perfectly shaped. White chocolate banana cream is next on my list to try.
A La Mode is open on Thanksgiving Day on 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., mostly for deliveries and pickups of pre-ordered pies, but also for the lucky last-minuters who can nab a few whole pies on first-come first-served basis. Flavors for Thanksgiving: Holiday Pumpkin Tart, Blue Hawaiian, Apple Ginger Pear, Mexican Chocolate Mousse and Marionberry Hazelnut.
Even with its brick and mortar presence, A La Mode Pies still delivers (free anywhere within the Seattle area, and a small cost outside of it).
Other nuts and bolts: Slices are $4.50; small pies run $9 and large traditional size pies are $25. They serve Caffe Umbria espresso (what’s a piece of pie with out a cup of coffee?). There is a freezerful of Bluebird Ice cream for that a la mode part of the pie experience (including my favorite pie ice flavor, snickerdoodle). The shop is open daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Did I mention the free delivery in Seattle area?
Happy Pie Day, all.
A la Mode Pies Café, 5821 Phinney Ave N (across from the Woodland Park Zoo); 206.383.3796. alamodeseattle.com
Bonus Pie Pairing Cocktail Recipe!
Weber Thompson, the interior design firm who did A La Mode Pies, put together a neat little recipe booklet of cocktail recipes that pair with Chris’ pies. My favorite pairing: The Painkiller, recommended to pair with Blue Hawaiian pie (though I prefer the pie pop, maybe because I love the this-is-why-mommy-drinks idea of holding a pie pop in one hand and a cocktail in another).
2 oz rum, Pusser’s 95 proof
4 oz unsweetened pineapple joice
1 oz organge juice
1 oz coconut cream
Garnish, grated nutmeg, cinnamon, pineapple stick, and orange wheel.
Shake with ice. Stain into an ice-filled Tiki mug.
Recipe courtesy of Weber Thompson