Step into Garlo's Aussie Pie Shop in Westwood, and it's likely a good-looking bloke with a broad Australian accent will bound up to you and happily regale you with all kinds of facts about the operation. "G'day!" he'll bellow. "First time here? Yes? Great! That means I get to do more talking!"
There's something about Australians playing up their Australian-ness for American enjoyment that makes me a wee bit queasy, but that's because, being Australian myself, it's what's been expected of me my whole life. Just because I hate the shtick doesn't mean you will. If I take the jaded scales from my eyes, I can see how Garlo's sunny outlook would be welcome and inviting when you're in the market for a quick, cheap lunch.
Garlo's is a purveyor of personal meat pies, which is basically the hot dog of Australia. You can buy meat pies in convenience stores, in gas stations, frozen in the supermarket, or as a more upscale treat made fresh at your local butcher shop. Every suburban shopping center has a pie shop. In Australia, Garlo's has some retail shops, but its main business is wholesale. You can buy Garlo's pies in many Australian supermarkets.
The Westwood location is the company's first foray into international sales. Like most Australian pie shops, they offer a classic meat pie, as well as many variations on the theme. They also offer the other pastry-and-meat Australian staple, the sausage roll. And there's a coffee program serving flat whites, lattes and cappuccinos. If you order a cappuccino, our Aussie pal will ask you "Do you want chocolate powder on top? That's how we do it in Australia!" He's telling the truth, though the cappuccinos in Australia are far less milky than the behemoths served here.
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Much like a hot dog, it's hard to go seriously wrong with a meat pie. Even the crappy ones are pretty good. What's not to love about pastry and meat and gravy? Garlo's pies fall right about in the middle of the range: far better than the gas station kind, not anywhere near as good as the butcher shop kind. Their classic beef pie comes with big chunks of beef rather than the traditional ground meat, which is a bonus.
They also serve a fun combo, which is a hot meat pie with mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy. The potatoes and gravy are of the sort you might expect at a cafeteria, but the plate is very true to what you might get at a pub counter in the suburbs of Sydney. At $6.95, it's an incredibly hearty meal for not much money.