The first time my husband Scott and I discovered The Pie Store, we almost ran into their pie. Not exactly, but we did stroll up to the shop just as a customer was picking up an enormous catering order. The miniature chocolate cream pies looked amazing. But the folks inside The Pie Store looked a little harried loading trays of British specialties into the customer's minivan. So I offered an extra set of hands — hoping they might reward me with a taste of something.
I opened the door a few times and carried a couple of trays to the car. When we were all done the bakers handed us a couple of spinach and feta puff pastries as a thank you. It wasn't necessary, but I was curious to sample something.
Those spinach pies were so good we came back a few days later to try their key lime pie — our current favorite and a must-have for dinner guests. The key lime pie is super creamy (think lots of cream cheese) and super tart (lots of lime juice), just the way I like it. It's probably the best I've ever tried.
We've also sampled their berry pies, which are great for entertaining during the summer. My husband loved the blueberry pie. It is just sweet enough. That's because their recipe calls for a minimal amount of sugar. You can serve it with vanilla ice cream or eat it straight from the box. Just don't expect any leftovers.
The Pie Store is the brainchild of Samantha Codling. She's a former food stylist who "wanted to open something of her own." What's a food stylist? Someone who makes food look pretty for magazines.
When Codling moved to the Unitd States from Hong Kong (she's originally from Essex, England) she couldn't find the selection of freshly prepared foods she was used to buying overseas.
First she opened the London Food Company on Bloomfield Avenue. Then she decided to bake pie because, she says, "you can put anything into it."
In this country, people tend to associate pie with dessert, but Codling and her staff cook up a variety of meat pies. I haven't tried them yet, but folks in Montclair rave about their turkey and steak pies. I've also heard good things about the butternut squash pastry — all excellent options for the upcoming holidays. Codling recommends her chicken pot pie, because "people can equate chicken in pie and eating it."
The Pie Store opened two years ago. Codling also sells popular British novelties like Maynard gummy candies and Cadbury chocolates. Also look for brands like Irn-Bru and Lucozade, a popular sports drink.
Small pies average $10; larger pies $17.
The Pie Store is located at 100 Watchung Avenue and has been closed for a summer break since August 16 — but reopens September 2.