Pie: wrap anything in a buttery, flaky crust and it's probably going to taste pretty good. The folks over at O Pie O, a cutely-named bakery/restaurant in East Walnut Hills, hope our collective memories of this tasty treat will keep us coming back for more. We stopped by one evening to check out the neighborhood's newest venture.
For being situated in such a large building, O Pie O is surprisingly cramped with limited seating. It sports a clean, gray, upscale feel that fits well with the high price point. One slice of pie and a side item (which comes in a small ramekin) will set you back between nine and eleven dollars. Water comes in teeny tiny glasses that don't hold a lot but look good. This means you run out of water fairly quickly, praying you can make eye contact with the busy wait staff for a refill before a piece of dry crust gets permanently lodged in your throat.
O Pie O's menu is simple and abbreviated: smaller, in fact, than their wine and beer list. Available entrees include a slice of two available pies: in our visit, this was a choice between chicken pot pie ($11) or Greek quiche ($9). You can also choose a ham, cheddar and roasted bell pepper "pocket pie" with a cup of soup for $9. A pocket pie is about the size of a toaster strudel, only flatter.
Empanadas are also highlighted as a major player on the menu, with a Chilean beef and a corn/cheese offering. Alas, we were told they take 15-20 minutes to prepare. This immediately eliminated them as a viable option, which was very disappointing. O Pie O's got to do better on timing for a premier menu item if they hope to succeed. The rest of their menu is basically pre-made. So what are those multiple cooks doing that takes empanadas so long to prepare? Another problem with the empanadas is the size-to-price ratio. The waitress gestured to us the approximate size of one empanada. For $9, we were expecting something larger than only a few inches, but that wasn't the case.
After learning of the empanada wait, my girlfriend begrudgingly opted for the Greek quiche, along with a side of "Woodburn" chili that an owner told us is an old family recipe. The quiche comes filled with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and pine nuts. I chose the chicken pot pie, spurred by a childhood filled with eating the cheap, frozen variants. The slice comes filled with Amish chicken, Yukon potatoes, leeks, peas and carrots.
Both slices did look quite lovely when presented before us. A small side of pickled vegetables also accompanied each pie, which offered some acidity to cut through the heaviness, though we thought the combo didn't quite pair well with the quiche as much as it did the chicken pot pie. There are good crusts and bad crusts, and thankfully O Pie O's is the kind that compels you to eat slices crust-first: flaky, rich and delicious.
The chili was also quite good, with generous hunks of hamburger and beans, with an almost chocolately, mole-like finish. The flavor was good, but its smokiness became a bit overpowering after more than several bites. That didn't stop me from finishing both mine and my girlfriend's cup.
After a brief respite and tummy rub, we ventured to dessert. Slices of rhubarb, apple and pear were available, but we were more interested in ordering their signature, custardy Honey Vinegar pie, as well as a slice of seasonal Concord Grape.
The honey vinegar pie looked deceptively simple, with only its flecks of sprinkled salt hinting at the complex flavors within. The salt boosted the honey custard flavor and its playful, subtle bite of vinegar.
The Concord grape pie was intensely sweet and fruity, with a thick, sugary and thoroughly delicious crust. I declined the available scoop of Graeter's vanilla ice cream ($2), but a scoop of peanut butter ice cream would have been great, had they offered it --a fun take on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
O Pie O's pies are unquestionably very good, but some work needs to be done on executing their signature items and dealing with the cramped seating. And while the prices did seem steep for what was served, the innate heaviness of pie assures no one leaves hungry. We look forward to our next visit (possibly getting it to-go).