The Pie Hole: Love At First Crust

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Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM
click to enlarge Coffee and lemon meringue pie at The Pie Hole. - GUZZLE & NOSH

Opened just last week in a gritty-chic corner of downtown L.A., The Pie Hole hopes to do for pies what nearby Wurstkuche did for sausages. That is, reinvigorate a staple dish, make it feel hip and modern, and, hopefully, fill the place to bursting with loft dwellers, office workers and architecture students. The difference: where Wurstkuche sources their sausages from outside vendors and throws them on the grill, The Pie Hole makes almost everything in-house and from scratch. Except for the coffee. They leave that to the pros.

click to enlarge The Pie Hole's chocolate peanut butter pie. - GUZZLE & NOSH

Blame the sour economy. Call it a craving for comfort food. Either way, we're in the middle of a major pie moment. The Pie Hole knows it. That's why they can charge $6 for a slice of lemon meringue. Is it worth it? Hell, yes. Made with a dense, almost croissant-like crust, it boasts a base of creamy lemon curd so rich it makes Frank and Jamie McCourt look like paupers and a voluptuous crown of meringue light years away from the usual Styrofoam. The pie isn't picture-perfect, which is perfectly fine. It's meant to be eaten not merely ogled. Sure, it immediately collapses into a gooey, quivering mess, but it's as delicious as any lemon meringue pie we've eaten.

With its rotating, seasonally-influenced menu, The Pie Hole has yet to turn out a dull or mediocre pie. Fluffy peanut butter cream topped with a disc of dark chocolate rests on a brilliant crust of crushed, salted pretzels. It's baffling how any of it holds together, but thank god that it does. The strawberry hand-pie is a skipping stone-sized disc of flaky dough surrounding preserves made from berries picked during the high season. (You can also buy the jarred preserves.) Whether traditional or inventively modern, The Pie Hole's crusts are virtuosic.

click to enlarge The mac 'n' cheese pie at The Pie Hole. - GUZZLE & NOSH

They don't skimp in the savory pie department, either. The veggie curry pot pie is dotted with golden raisins (an idea that somehow works!), the carnitas turnover is surprisingly hearty for such a small package and, in case one genre of carbohydrate isn't enough in a single dish, an individually sized mac 'n cheese pie that oozes with tart, creamy sauce.

WWACD? If he couldn't find a diner serving canned cherry pie and watery black coffee, Agent Cooper would have to settle for a slice of The Pie Hole's lemon curd meringue and a double ristretto made from a proprietary blend of custom-sourced and roasted espresso (courtesy of Groundwork). So far, we've only tried the drip coffee but it makes a damn fine companion for any piece of pie.

[@elinashatkin / eshatkin@laweekly.com]

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