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Pondering Pot Pie, Baker's Square to Sola

Pondering Pot Pie, Baker's Square to Sola
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  • Pondering Pot Pie, Baker's Square to Sola

    Post #1 - February 18th, 2006, 9:47 am
    Post #1 - February 18th, 2006, 9:47 am Post #1 - February 18th, 2006, 9:47 am
    Pondering Pot Pie, Baker's Square to Sola

    A few years ago, a client “took me to lunch” at Baker’s Square, and we both ordered chicken pot pie (I was lost; I followed his lead). We were served a gloppy base of chicken clumps and frozen vegetables with a machined, preformed pastry plate dropped on top. It was stupid beyond words, but more importantly: it was not pie generally nor pot pie specifically.

    Friday night at Sola, I ordered the vegetable pot pie – and got a stew of winter vegetables, pretty good in and of itself, but with a much higher-quality, flakey and truffle-oil drizzled pastry plate dropped on top. Again, not pot pie – not any type of pie at all by my definition of the word.

    This is a disturbing trend. Pie (or so I believe) is something with a surrounding crust and a filling, and the filling is cooked INSIDE the pie crust (or at least WITH the pie crust – there is a pot pie tradition of pouring dough over the “filling” and baking it on top, so there's cooked-on crust only on the upper portion, and I’d reluctantly settle for that).

    What I want is to poke open the top of the crust, and see steam rising out, because that means the stuff inside has been cooking in there, and during the cooking process, crust and contents have joined to become a greater thing, something that is more than just crisp dough and soft “filling” plopped together just before serving. That greater thing…is Pie.

    So, can you really say you’re serving a pie by avoiding the whole en croute route, by just laying a pastry cap onto a “filling” of fruit, vegetable or meat?

    I don’t believe you can – and I find this trend, stretching from the depths of Baker’s Square to the relatively higher-end Sola, somewhat dishonest…and quite definitely disturbing.

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #2 - February 18th, 2006, 10:11 am
    Post #2 - February 18th, 2006, 10:11 am Post #2 - February 18th, 2006, 10:11 am
    DH, I agree, pie should rightly include the pastry crust all around.

    I'm not sure what the technical term for a 'pie' with just a crust on top is (but it isn't 'pie') - if it were a scattering only on top it would be a cobbler. (Does this apply only to desserts?)

    Anyway here's a link to some terms: Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble, Grunt, Slump etc.
    see disclaimer at end

    Baker's Sq. is one thing, but at Sola it seems inexcusable.
  • Post #3 - February 18th, 2006, 10:16 am
    Post #3 - February 18th, 2006, 10:16 am Post #3 - February 18th, 2006, 10:16 am
    sazerac wrote:Anyway here's a link to some terms: Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble, Grunt, Slump etc.


    Here's another link about the same subject:
    http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season9/ ... _trans.htm

    You don't have to read to far to hear from the nutritional anthropologist on the subject of cobblers.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #4 - February 18th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Post #4 - February 18th, 2006, 10:18 am Post #4 - February 18th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Did the word "deconstructed" appear in the menu description at Sola? Or did they put "scare quotes" around "Pot Pie"? Just kidding, but it does sound like this is one innovation that is decidedly less appetizing than the old-fashioned, original version, for the reasons cited above.
    JiLS
  • Post #5 - February 18th, 2006, 10:23 am
    Post #5 - February 18th, 2006, 10:23 am Post #5 - February 18th, 2006, 10:23 am
    FWIW, Giobson's in Rosemont serves a terrific chicken pot pie on its lunch menu everyday. Big chunks of chicken, fresh veggies and a delicious puff pastry crust that seals all around the edges of a baking dish.

    Their chefs fix pot pie the way it was intended- with leftovers from the previous night's dinner.
  • Post #6 - February 18th, 2006, 10:44 am
    Post #6 - February 18th, 2006, 10:44 am Post #6 - February 18th, 2006, 10:44 am
    Add Manny's to the list of places serving a good, proper Chicken Pot Pie. It is made wth nice chunks of potatoes and large pieces of their roasted chicken with a somewhat dense crust all around. Manny's CPP does not have a lot of gloppy sauce. It's pretty loadeed with chicken and veggies. If anyting, it leans slightly to the dry side. It's on the specials menu on Wednesdays, but I'm sure I have seen it on other dsays as well.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - February 18th, 2006, 12:49 pm
    Post #7 - February 18th, 2006, 12:49 pm Post #7 - February 18th, 2006, 12:49 pm
    David -- thank you, thank you, thank you. This have been one of my peeves for some time now. I tried Cafe Selmarie, L. Woods, Charlie's Ale House. Each time someone recommende the "pie" and what I got was chicken stew with a puff pastry crust on top. Not a pie! -- As has been discussed before on this board, pies are hard to come by in Chicago, sweet or savory.
  • Post #8 - February 18th, 2006, 1:05 pm
    Post #8 - February 18th, 2006, 1:05 pm Post #8 - February 18th, 2006, 1:05 pm
    Perhaps indicative of "food lifestyle" propaganda: you will never see a Food Channel program offering an honest-to-goodness potpie how-to; it's always pastry crust atop a ceramic vessel.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #9 - February 18th, 2006, 2:26 pm
    Post #9 - February 18th, 2006, 2:26 pm Post #9 - February 18th, 2006, 2:26 pm
    Jack wrote:As has been discussed before on this board, pies are hard to come by in Chicago, sweet or savory.

    The other night I was watching "Medium Cool" which was shot in Chicago in 1968. In one of the scenes a Loyd J Harris pie truck rolls across the backdrop. This got me flashing back to dishwashing/busboy jobs I had in highschool and I suddenly remembered other trucks that delivered to restaurants from the Fasano Pie Co. "Pies By Fasano". So at one time we had pie wagons from two different companys plying the streets of our fair city and today pie is pretty much absent from the landscape. What happened ?
    David Hammond wrote:So, can you really say you’re serving a pie by avoiding the whole en croute route, by just laying a pastry cap onto a “filling” of fruit, vegetable or meat?

    What about "Pizza Pie"?
    Last edited by JSM on February 18th, 2006, 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #10 - February 18th, 2006, 2:47 pm
    Post #10 - February 18th, 2006, 2:47 pm Post #10 - February 18th, 2006, 2:47 pm
    JSM wrote:
    Jack wrote:As has been discussed before on this board, pies are hard to come by in Chicago, sweet or savory.

    The other night I was watching "Medium Cool" which was shoot in Chicago in 1968. In one of the scenes a Loyd J Harris pie truck rolls across the backdrop. This got me flashing back to dishwashing/busboy jobs I had in highschool and I suddenly remembered other trucks that delivered to restaurants from the Fasano Pie Co. "Pies By Fasano". So at one time we had pie wagons from two different companys plying the streets of our fair city and today pie is pretty much absent from the landscape. What happened ?
    David Hammond wrote:So, can you really say you’re serving a pie by avoiding the whole en croute route, by just laying a pastry cap onto a “filling” of fruit, vegetable or meat?

    What about "Pizza Pie"?


    Hey JSM,

    Pizza pie is, I think, a different animal with many incarnations. My Italian granny used to make what she called "pizza," and it was basically baked bread, a little flatter than usual, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano. And of course, there are other variants of the pie theme, in pecan pie or meringues that have no top crust...but I think you know what I'm talking about. :wink:

    I remember Fasano, and, of course, "Medium Cool," one of my favorite 60s flicks -- I think it was so incredible that they used actual footage of the "police riot" as part of the plot...and it featured an early appearance by Max Cherry. Classic.

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #11 - February 18th, 2006, 6:23 pm
    Post #11 - February 18th, 2006, 6:23 pm Post #11 - February 18th, 2006, 6:23 pm
    I have never seen a restaurant version of pot pie that has a bottom crust.
  • Post #12 - February 18th, 2006, 9:52 pm
    Post #12 - February 18th, 2006, 9:52 pm Post #12 - February 18th, 2006, 9:52 pm
    I believe the frozen pot pies at Paulina Meat Market offer what you seek.
  • Post #13 - February 19th, 2006, 12:35 am
    Post #13 - February 19th, 2006, 12:35 am Post #13 - February 19th, 2006, 12:35 am
    LAZ wrote:I have never seen a restaurant version of pot pie that has a bottom crust.


    I rather think a pot pie as served in the US is an English "invention" (though not without precedents in many, many other regions and cuisines). And the version most often served as Pub food does have a bottom crust. I think that is where it comes from.

    Though my guess is that for most of my fellow posters, and for me, our first pot pie encounter was likely a frozen version with top and bottom crust and creamy, even gloppy, filling. It should be noted that while the full crust is a general characteristic of the British Pub Pot Pie, the gloppy filling is not - steak & kidney anyone? As I recall, more often the filling is in a brown sauce, though this can vary.

    Anyway, for better or worse, my first experience with pot pie probably came from Swanson's. And, to be honest, I cannot blame restaurants with even the slightest bit of ambition for wanting to sepatate themselves from that. Plus it is a lot easier to prepare and serve a bowl of stew with a bit of crust added at the last moment than a full, steaming pie, even if every pub in the UK does just that.
    Last edited by dicksond on February 19th, 2006, 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #14 - February 19th, 2006, 12:42 pm
    Post #14 - February 19th, 2006, 12:42 pm Post #14 - February 19th, 2006, 12:42 pm
    dicksond wrote:Anyway, for better or worse, my first experience with pot pie probably came from Swanson's. And, to be honest, I cannot blame restaurants with even the slightest bit of ambition for wanting to sepatate themselves from that.


    I was talking to a chef friend of mine, and he said pretty much the same thing. Higher end restaurants do not want to duplicate the Swanson experience, so they try to do it differently. That's reasonable.

    dicksond wrote:Plus it is a lot easier to prepare and serve a bowl of stew with a bit of crust added at the last moment than a full, steaming pie, even if every pub in the UK does just that.


    I understand that it may be harder to actually make a pie, but for $14, I feel a real "pie" (with at least a top crust baked on) is not an unreasonable expectation. And we're talking about a pot pie in a terrine about the size of a DVD -- more pie-lette than pie -- so a baked-on crust is not, in my view, too much to ask for.

    David "Okay, Maybe a Little Hard to Please" Hammond

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #15 - February 19th, 2006, 12:47 pm
    Post #15 - February 19th, 2006, 12:47 pm Post #15 - February 19th, 2006, 12:47 pm
    Even though this isn't a restaurant, you can buy a fresh chicken pot pie at Costco. It is about 10" wide and pretty tatsy.

    KFC makes a pot pie that my husband says is pretty good, although he can't remember if it had a bottom crust.
    The clown is down!
  • Post #16 - February 19th, 2006, 4:47 pm
    Post #16 - February 19th, 2006, 4:47 pm Post #16 - February 19th, 2006, 4:47 pm
    No bottom crust, but the Grill on the Alley and its sister Daily Grill both do a nice puff-pastry-baked-on-top version.

    And speaking of frozen pot pies, for a while Costco carried something called an Aussie Pie, which was a decent facsimile of an Australian-style meat pie. Has anyone seen these anywhere?

    Grill on the Alley
    312/255-9009
    www.thegrill.com
    909 N. Michigan Ave.
    Chicago

    Daily Grill
    847/329-4334
    9599 Skokie Blvd.
    Skokie
  • Post #17 - February 20th, 2006, 12:00 am
    Post #17 - February 20th, 2006, 12:00 am Post #17 - February 20th, 2006, 12:00 am
    JeanneBean wrote:KFC makes a pot pie that my husband says is pretty good, although he can't remember if it had a bottom crust.


    I called my local KFC. Crust only on top, but that ain't bad.

    LAZ wrote:No bottom crust, but the Grill on the Alley and its sister Daily Grill both do a nice puff-pastry-baked-on-top version.


    Thanks LAZ.

    I've come to the realization that what I really want is a version of the Swanson pies I grew up with, only with better ingredients and made more skillfully.

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #18 - February 20th, 2006, 5:15 am
    Post #18 - February 20th, 2006, 5:15 am Post #18 - February 20th, 2006, 5:15 am
    David Hammond wrote:So, can you really say you’re serving a pie by avoiding the whole en croute route, by just laying a pastry cap onto a “filling” of fruit, vegetable or meat?

    Hammond,

    Sounds like you were served baked chicken stew with a Hat at Sola, not inappropriate given your love of the hat. Chapeau chicken anyone? :)

    David Hammond wrote:I've come to the realization that what I really want is a version of the Swanson pies I grew up with, only with better ingredients and made more skillfully.

    I've had the pleasure of eating your cooking, you are an excellent cook, I suggest you simply make it yourself.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #19 - February 20th, 2006, 9:10 am
    Post #19 - February 20th, 2006, 9:10 am Post #19 - February 20th, 2006, 9:10 am
    HI,

    Last Summer, Mike G, Steve Z and I went out to McHenry Country Historical Society to judge just over 20 pies in front of an audience of just over 40 people.

    We encountered one 'pie' with no bottom crust, a cherry filling and crumb topping. We immediately disqualified this because it didn't have any bottom crust, which took discretion because this contestant hovered close by.

    Yeah, I side with the no bottom crust you have no pie.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - February 20th, 2006, 9:19 am
    Post #20 - February 20th, 2006, 9:19 am Post #20 - February 20th, 2006, 9:19 am
    David,
    Watching TV last night I saw a commercial for Marie Callender Chicken Pot Pie. It was a two crusted pie so you might want to try that. Don"t know how it tasted just that on the commercial it had two crusts.
    Paulette
  • Post #21 - February 20th, 2006, 10:31 am
    Post #21 - February 20th, 2006, 10:31 am Post #21 - February 20th, 2006, 10:31 am
    paulette wrote:David,
    Watching TV last night I saw a commercial for Marie Callender Chicken Pot Pie. It was a two crusted pie so you might want to try that. Don"t know how it tasted just that on the commercial it had two crusts.
    Paulette


    I've had that frozen pot pie, but couldn't remember the name until seeing this post! It's a major step up from Swanson's, that's for sure. Much closer to the ideal David describes above. I recall there was also a Marie Callender restaurant in Palatine (near Rand and Dundee, I believe). Never ate there, but if it is still around, you might want to consider trying their version at the restaurant, too.
    JiLS
  • Post #22 - February 20th, 2006, 10:37 am
    Post #22 - February 20th, 2006, 10:37 am Post #22 - February 20th, 2006, 10:37 am
    HI,

    From Marie CAllender's location finder, it appears her restaurants have left the state and are concentrating on the southwest and west coast.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #23 - February 20th, 2006, 10:38 am
    Post #23 - February 20th, 2006, 10:38 am Post #23 - February 20th, 2006, 10:38 am
    Hi all--

    We picked up a box of those Marie Callender frozen pot pies at the Ford City Costco a few weeks ago and they are really pretty good. Definetely a true double-crusted pie.

    Doesn't Marshall Fields serve pot pie at one or more of their restaurants as a tribute to the sales clerk who, some hundred years ago, brought in pot pies at lunch to prevent all the women shoppers from leaving for home after a morning's shopping? As I've heard it told, in that era, an unaccompanied women would not have lunched alone anywhere in the Loop.

    In any case, I've never had pot pie there so I can't attest to what version they serve.

    Patrick
  • Post #24 - February 20th, 2006, 11:01 am
    Post #24 - February 20th, 2006, 11:01 am Post #24 - February 20th, 2006, 11:01 am
    Well, never mind about Marie Callender's restaurant pot pie, which as described and pictured on their website is just the type of stew with a pastry chapeau that you don't want. But apparently they still make the frozen version as a traditional pie.
    JiLS
  • Post #25 - February 20th, 2006, 11:16 am
    Post #25 - February 20th, 2006, 11:16 am Post #25 - February 20th, 2006, 11:16 am
    If a frozen pot pie with top and bottom crust will make you happy, check out the Pepperidge Farm pot pies. I keep them in the freezer for emergency rations because my daughters like them. In addition to the traditional chicken and turkey flavors, they also have some non-traditional versions, one with an herb-garlic crust and an italian parmesan version that has a red sauce inside. I pick them up at the Pepperidge Farm thrift store in Flossmoor.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #26 - February 20th, 2006, 1:17 pm
    Post #26 - February 20th, 2006, 1:17 pm Post #26 - February 20th, 2006, 1:17 pm
    sdritz wrote:If a frozen pot pie with top and bottom crust will make you happy, check out the Pepperidge Farm pot pies. I keep them in the freezer for emergency rations because my daughters like them. In addition to the traditional chicken and turkey flavors, they also have some non-traditional versions, one with an herb-garlic crust and an italian parmesan version that has a red sauce inside. I pick them up at the Pepperidge Farm thrift store in Flossmoor.

    Suzy


    Iam a pot-pie fan in genereal, and have tried a lot of the frozen ones mentioned
    in this thread.

    As mentioned above, there is the Swasons. Then the Marie Callenders
    (which is better), and Pepperidge Farm as you mention above. Both
    these are better than Swanson's, but still not great -t hey are frozen,
    after all. You can find em at most stores, not just the Pepperidge Farm
    store itself (ie Jewel, Dominick's etc). Pepperidge Farm has a couple
    of "new" versions as you mention - not just the Italian Parmesan
    version, but also a "honey baked" something-or-other version.
    And, I think, even an alfredo version now?

    There is also the "Mrs Budd's" Chicken Pot Pie - also frozen, available at
    most stores. A bit more expensive than the (really cheap) Pepperidge
    Farms and Marie Callender versions - but also probably better. THey
    can also be much bigger in size - can be, IIRC, up to 2 lbs in weight
    in total (as opposed to the 10 oz version for Pepperidge Farms and
    Marie Callenders). If youre going frozen and want pretty much a
    full meal, thats the one to go with. (I have a couple sitting in my
    freezer at the moment I think :-)

    As for fast food spots - Ive tried the KFC version. Not bad - its not
    frozen, and has a pie-shell with a pie-crust on top. Another is,
    IIRC, Boston Market - its been a while since Ive tried theirs, but
    they used to bake em up in their oven a few at a time (on one or
    two occaskons I got one right out of the oven, and that was
    pretty decent).

    If anyone knows of a restaurant that serves up a good fresh version,
    would greatly appreciate a recommendation!

    c8w
  • Post #27 - February 20th, 2006, 4:06 pm
    Post #27 - February 20th, 2006, 4:06 pm Post #27 - February 20th, 2006, 4:06 pm
    To sum up, it sounds like the only confirmed local sighting of a restaurant-served pot pie with top and bottom (and, I assume, side) crust is at Manny's (as reported above by SteveZ).

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #28 - February 20th, 2006, 4:48 pm
    Post #28 - February 20th, 2006, 4:48 pm Post #28 - February 20th, 2006, 4:48 pm
    David Hammond wrote:To sum up, it sounds like the only confirmed local sighting of a restaurant-served pot pie with top and bottom (and, I assume, side) crust is at Manny's (as reported above by SteveZ).

    Hammond


    Perhaps we could take up a collection and send you to the UK to do some culinary research on Pub Food. I think a few Steak and Kidney pies, and maybe a few chicken, washed down with the appropriate libation would do the trick.

    On second thought, skip the UK and go to Ireland where you can swap a few yarns, too. The condition is that you would need to post detailed and entertaining reports, ala GAF, except in your style.

    I think this is the perfect solution. :idea:
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #29 - February 20th, 2006, 5:06 pm
    Post #29 - February 20th, 2006, 5:06 pm Post #29 - February 20th, 2006, 5:06 pm
    An English friend of mine makes shepherd's pie without either a crust on the top or the bottom--just mashed potatoes baked on top. So maybe not all English versions of pot pie have crusts either!

    More importantly: I did have a really amazingly good chicken pot pie (although maybe had a more elegant monicker) at Cafe Matou several years ago, it was lick-the-plate-clean good. I think it was fully enclosed in a crust. Maybe we could convince Chef Charlie to make it for us if we got enough people together?

    Cafe Matou
    1848 N. Milwaukee
    773-384-8911
    Anthony Bourdain on Barack Obama: "He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is."
  • Post #30 - February 20th, 2006, 5:26 pm
    Post #30 - February 20th, 2006, 5:26 pm Post #30 - February 20th, 2006, 5:26 pm
    dicksond wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:To sum up, it sounds like the only confirmed local sighting of a restaurant-served pot pie with top and bottom (and, I assume, side) crust is at Manny's (as reported above by SteveZ).

    Hammond


    Perhaps we could take up a collection and send you to the UK to do some culinary research on Pub Food. I think a few Steak and Kidney pies, and maybe a few chicken, washed down with the appropriate libation would do the trick.

    On second thought, skip the UK and go to Ireland where you can swap a few yarns, too. The condition is that you would need to post detailed and entertaining reports, ala GAF, except in your style.

    I think this is the perfect solution. :idea:


    Excellent suggestion, dd.

    I was kind of hoping, though, that MikeG -- Master Pieman, Oven Overlord, Czar of the Crusted Cosmos, Prince of Pies, Duke of Dough, Baron Baked Goods – would whip one up and drop it off.

    But it’s already after 5:00, and that hasn’t happened.

    Consequently, The Wife has graciously consented to cook one for me tomorrow. Her first.

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins

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