The Pie Hole
177 N. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866
I have to admit that when I heard that the Pie Hole was headed to OC, I had to reread the news article numerous times. It seemed almost unreal. Like we were winning the dessert lottery or something. To have one of the best pie joints I have ever had the pleasure to dine in, come to our neck of the woods, it was a dream come true, but not for my waistline.
The Pie Hole came across my radar about five years ago when I was reading a Foodbeast article, which was listing the best spots to eat pie in each state. Of course you can probably guess that the California representative was Pie Hole, but if you want to plan a pie lovers trip around the US, read the rest of their article here. Anyways, we made a trip up to their original Arts District location about a year after that article was published, and became big fans of Pie Hole. You can read about that first visit by clicking here.
Pie Hole is now starting a thoughtful and slowly evolving expansion process. They are taking things nice and slow by picking locations to open up that meet a certain criteria. They of course want high traffic areas, but they also want places that will allow them to become part of the community. They want to be a meeting place for the neighborhoods they occupy, which also helps them keep advertising costs down, since they do not seem to advertise at all.
Even though they now have four locations, (the original Arts District spot, along with Pasadena, Hollywood, and Orange), they are still a family run business. Started by mom, Becky Grasley and her son, Mathew Heffner, they are also joined by Matt's friend, Sean Brennan. Becky always dreamed of selling her award winning pies, and once she retired from a nursing job, this trio set out to make their dream a reality.
Opened in the forgettable Old Towne Grinder spot on the corner of Glassell and Maple, right across the street from the Filing Station, they started selling their pies in early May. Their menu not only features sweet pies, but savory pies as well. The current menu up on their website has four breakfast pies offered, along with 7 pies more suited for a meal than dessert. We had already eaten a few doors down at Burger Parlor, so we got in line, ordered our slices of pies, and waited for them to come out. Let's see if the quality has been diminished as Pie Hole has expanded.
This Mexican Chocolate Pie ($6.50) is probably one of the Pie Hole's most well known pies, so of course we needed to give it a try. Not an overly sweet pie, the chocolate comes through, but was not sickeningly sweet, like others tend to be. The crust is good here, and I'm not even a real fan of crust. It's not just a vessel for the filling of the pie, it's actually part of the pie. I like that they incorporated the sugary crystals in the crust. A very well rounded slice of pie.
The first pie I ever had at the Pie Hole in Downtown LA was this Mom's Apple Crumble Pie ($8.75 with ice cream added). It blew me away then, and it did the same now. The apples in here are not drenched in syrup like almost every other apple pie out there. They allow the natural sweetness of the apples to shine, with a very good cinnamon crumble topping the slice. Just the right amount of sweetness here, this really is a balanced piece of pie that is brought together with the optional, but I say necessary scoops of vanilla ice cream. To my knowledge my grandmothers never baked, but this is the kind of pie I'd imagine a grandmother would bake.
My dad is always a little screwy when it comes to pies that he likes. When we were growing up he always would get coconut cream or sour lemon. I never really understood why he did this, until he let it slip that he got these weird flavors, so he wouldn't have to share with anyone. He probably thought this trend would continue when he ordered this Maple Custard ($7.25), but he was wrong. This was another winner on this evening. The custard was nice and smooth, and the maple flavor came through strong. I really enjoyed the texture of this unique pie. Of course the crust was just as good as the other pieces we had. Very impressive for a pie I would normally not order.
If you could not tell from the preceding, I love the Pie Hole. I know what some of you are probably thinking. How can I justify paying over $7 for a piece of pie, when you can go to Marie Callender's, Polly's, or Coco's and get a whole pie for that same amount? Those places are fine, everyday kind of pie shops, but for a real, homemade style pie, you will want to make it to the Pie Hole. Their pies are just better and do not taste like mass produced, overly sweetened pies. Ordering is done at the counter, and then the food is brought out to your table. We had no problems with the service on this evening. So happy that the Pie Hole has come to OC, and look forward to finally trying their savory pies in the near future.
Out of five teeth, (because a pie hole is a slang term for a mouth, and of course you can't eat without teeth), five being best to zero being worst, the Pie Hole gets 3.5 teeth.
For more information about the Pie Hole, head over to their website here: http://www.thepieholela.com/