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Aug 16, 2007 10:38 AM

Pie in Charleston

My sister was recently in town, and she wanted pie for dessert. I wasn't sure where to fact I think Charleston may lack good pie. Assuming you want to go to a restaurant, where do you go to get your pie fix? I am not looking for a specific kind of pie so I am open to all suggestions. I would also like to know where to pick up a good pie, I know about Sublime but are there any others? Thanks.

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  1. The Sal Parco restaurants (Mustard Seed, Boulevard Diner, etc.) usually have good pies, and I believe that most or all are baked at their own bakery in the Old Village section of Mt. Pleasant. I believe the bakery, which is also open to the public, is called Village Bakery or something like that. Their coconut cream pie is one of the best I've had. I really like the way they coat the inside of the crust in chocolate before adding the filling. Parco's newest restaurant, Uno Mas, also features an interesting pie, a chile spiced pecan pie. I'm not sure if that's made in-house or at the bakery, since all of Uno Mas's desserts are different than the ones at MS and BD. I don't usually order pecan pie at restaurants, since it's one of my own specialties, but this one got my attention. It had a pleasant back-of-the-throat burn to it. Now, a place I've been meaning to try but haven't gotten around to yet is Walli's Fish Supreme (I think that's the name), a little place around the corner from Hominy Grill that specializes in fish sandwiches. They apparently do an outstanding bean pie (yes, it is dessert), very old school.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Low Country Jon

      Thanks for the recs. I am going to have to make a trip over to Village Bakery, I had no idea it was affiliated with the Sal Parco restaurants. The coconut pie sounds wonderful, and it is one of my favorites. When my sister was in town we were just finishing up at A Culinary Art Co. in Mt. P, and I did think of Blvd. Diner. However, it was getting late and I didn't think they would be open so since we were heading downtown anyway we wound up at Jestine's. I also thought of Hominy Grill, but she wanted to have brunch there the next morning. The bean pie sounds interesting, what should I expect?

      Also, on another note, how was Uno Mas? It seems like the reviews in the papers have been lukewarm. However, the chile spiced pecan pie sounds like a nice twist on an old favorite. We tried Vallarta Grill this past weekend and were pleasantly surprised. Normally we order more authentic fare, but I had shrimp nachos and my bf had the beef and chicken fajitas. Both dishes had a lot of fresh flavors, the nachos were loaded with fresh cilantro and the fajitas definitely had cinnamon in the mix.

      1. re: lizzy

        A couple of more place you can try for pie are Hank's and Stono Farm Market. I can vouch for Hank's banana cream and pluff mud pies. I really like Hank's in general, though it often seems to get overlooked by Charleston foodies. It is often the restaurant my wife and I take out of town guests to first, because they want to go downtown and they want seafood. While the concept of an upscale seafood joint leaves some people cold, they never seem to be hurting for business. You do pay more than you would for seafood at an actual dive, but the diversity and quality seem a cut or two above any of the divey seafood shacks I've been to around here, not to mention the atmosphere. And they do a great job with their she-crab soup, which, for some reason, mom and pop type places never seem to excel at.

        Back on subject, I haven't been to Stono Farm Market on John's Island (I'm East of the Cooper so I don't get out that way too often), but their baker makes pies with whatever fruit is in season:
        If you try them, let me know how they are. One day I'll get over there myself.

        I haven't actually tried bean pie. I think it's probably a little like the sweetened red bean paste desserts you find in Japanese and Chinese cuisine, but more custard-like because I think the sweetened navy beans are whipped with eggs and cream and pumpkin pie-type spices.

        I like Uno Mas, even though I understand the criticisms I've read. Their food is somewhat incosistent, but I like the "new" (for Charleston) directions they are trying to take Mexican cuisine. I appreciate any place that serves mole, and they feature a few different varieties. Yes, some of the basic things make you scratch your head, like why can't they get their homemade tortilla chips crisper or why aren't all the refreied beans cooked through, but if you can look past those things, some of their dishes are quite sublime.

        How was A Culinary Art Company? I tried it a couple of years ago and was somewhat underwhelmed, but I keep hearing good things about them. The two things that I remember most were that the first napkins they brought us were still damp (not long enough in the dryer I guess) and the prices for tapas seemed awfully high considering the non-prime location of the restaurant. A return trip is probably in order.

        Thought I'd mention that the wife and I just tried the new Charleston Grill, and we both thought the quality of the food has definitely gone up (along with the price). The service has slipped a little, but is still quite good. For the life of me, we couldn't figure out what they spent millions on with respect to the interior design. Maybe we just don't notice those design details, but as far as we could tell, the interior looked "lighter" but that was about it. I was also disappointed they no longer offer loose leaf tea service for dinner--they used to borrow their tea from the Thoroughbred Lounge next door. Oh, well. The empanada appetizer, duck breast, and Hawaiian kampache were all standouts.

        1. re: Low Country Jon

          Hank's yes! I wish it had come to mind. We have been there before, and it is a favorite of ours as well. I have had the key lime pie and can vouch for it, and my bf can vouch for the banana cream pie, I'm allergic to bananas. We also take people there for dinner when they are in town, my parents and my sister have both enjoyed Hank's. In fact my parents insisted that we take my sister when she was in town, and my bf's company takes out of town guests and clients there on a regular basis. I agree that the she crab soup is some of the best in town. I never pass up something from their raw bar selection, I think it is by far the best in town.

          I am going to have to make a trip very soon to Stono Farms. I have always wanted to eat and shop there and for one reason or another it always gets pushed to the back burner. I will definitely let you know.

          I loved A Culinary Art Company, and I would recommend it to anyone with an adventurous palate...I actually heard the phrase "I only eat normal food" the other night and I think my jaw must have dropped to the ground. Anyway back to A Culinary Art Co., since it was close to the end of my sister's visit and she is at least as much of a hound as I am if not more, we weren't that hungry so we didn't order much for 3 people. Let me start out by saying that our reservations were originally for Fri night, but I received a phone call asking if we could change our reservation to Sat night due to a death. Changing turned out not to be a problem, and we were given a round of free champagne for our troubles, a nice touch. We started with the french picnic, a charcuterie plate, with beef tongue, lamb two ways, pork three ways, country pate, beef two ways, red onion jelly, broccoli slaw, mustard and pistachio oil, plus I think I am leaving out a pate or a terrine. It was absolutely amazing, everything was spot on and there was so much of it. We also had monkfish wrapped in bacon and a goat chile relleno, and both were also outstanding. After the champagne I sampled a glass of sangria and was not disappointed. They, gasp, started with a decent wine and it was not overly sweet, in fact I thought it was crisp and refreshing. I agree with you about the prices, but IMO, even though they bill themselves as a tapas restaurant I feel the portions are equal to an entree portion without the sides. I think if you are willing to look at it in that respect you might be able to deal with the bottom line a little better.

          The Chas Grill sounds wonderful, this might have to go on the list for my next birthday dinner. The Hawaiian kampache sounds spectacular. I am going to have to take a walk through Chas Place soon and peek my head in to see the decor. I have to admit that I stupidly did not pay attention the last time I walked through.

          Since we are sharing....other highlights from my sister's visit include SeeWee Rest., Cru Cafe, Tristan, Peninsula Grill. It was the first time for any of us for SeeWee and I loved the shrimp, but the sides were what really stood out especially the collards. I was disappointed that they had run out of the caramel cake so we skipped dessert. I am a devoted fan of Cru Cafe, but they had what was I think the best soup I have ever had. They had a Cream of Cauliflower soup that they brought to temperature and then poached oysters in it and garnished the soup with fresh chives, swoon. I had a dinner special, mahi mahi seasoned and grilled(?) over fingerling potatoes and other fresh summer veggies with a tomato shellfish broth, fantastic. We went to Tristan for lunch, another first for me, and I had the prix fixe lunch salad and dessert, spiced beignets, were fabulous, but the beef tartare had the consistency of cat food and the tomato coulis was closer to ketchup on a plate, oh well hopefully I will order better next time. We also made a stop at the Peninsula Grill for Coconut Cake, and that is always worthwhile. If you have ever wanted the recipe you can find it here,

          Other places we dined include: home team bbq, fish, joseph's and hominy grill.

          1. re: lizzy

            Wow...thanks for the recipe site for the Peninsula Coconut Cake...This is absolutely the best one that I have ever tried...Looks a bit labor intensive...Might just have to return to Charleston for a piece!

            1. re: lizzy

              Funny, you should mention SeeWee. I was thinking of mentioning them as a possibility for pie, but the only dessert I've had there was the caramel cake! It was outstanding. How did I grow up in the south and never have caramel cake until three years ago? Love the stuff. SeeWee is great. As far as seafood shacks in the Charleston area go, it's the best I've been to, definitely better than The Wreck, though The Wreck has that hard-to-beat atmosphere or anti-atmosphere if you will.

              I've heard that charcuterie is the way to go at ACAC. It's not something I normally order, but maybe I'll give it a try next time I go.

              I was a little disappointed with Tristan last time I went, mainly because they changed their she-crab soup recipe and I didn't think it was as good. Their soup used to be second only to Hank's in my book. If you get a chance to try their smoked lamb ribs with chocolate BBQ sauce, do so--they are fantastic. Their brunch is also good, especially their crepes.

              How were Home Team BBQ and Fish?

              1. re: Low Country Jon

                It's good to know the caramel cake is alone worth the trip. I think our next adventure out to SeeWee might have to be for lunch so we don't miss out on dessert.

                I see you mentioned the ribs with the chocolate bbq sauce at Tristan. I was considering ordering this, but decided against it after asking our server how it was presented. I was wearing while linen pants, and we were heading to the Gibbes after lunch. I know myself too well, and I knew mixing the two would be a messy disaster.

                I thought Home Team BBQ was just meh, but we know a lot of people who like the place. Personally I couldn't taste the smoke in the meat, and I did not care for their sauces. The sides were better, my sister had the broccoli casserole and that was good, along with the cole slaw. The mac & cheese was okay, but for some reason we felt compelled to keep eating it, and I'm sorry I don't remember the verdict on the collards. I will say that we were there on the 4th of July, the place was nearly empty so it very well could have been an off day. The only reason we were there was because everywhere else we wanted to go was closed for the holiday. I would love to hear where you like to go for good area bbq, and why, because I consider you extremely more educated on the subject than I.

                I don't know if you have ever been to Fish, but this time we went for lunch and I was a little underwhelmed. I have only been there for dinner in the past, and generally happy with my previous experiences. Lunch wasn't bad, but I felt the menu was nowhere near as creative as their dinner menu. I would recommend it, but only for dinner. It's fresh seafood with Asian flavors.

                I think I may try to get to Stono Farms today, if I do I will let you know.

                1. re: lizzy

                  So, my take on the Charleston BBQ scene...

                  (I got into this a little bit in a previous post which makes for interesting reading:


                  Best 'cue: The Hickory Hawg on John's Island. It's Lexington, NC style, so it surprises me I like it so much--I spent many years in that neck of the NC woods and never developed much of an affinity for that kind of BBQ. However, THH's BBQ is great--lean, smoky, and dosed with probably the best Lexington sauce I've ever had. The ribs are just as good, maybe better, and I'm not usually a big ribs guy.

                  Best BBQ buffet: Momma Brown's in Mt. Pleasant. The 'cue is pretty good, if somewhat inconsistent. They do both mustard and vinegar/pepper on chopped whole hog. (I'm originally from eastern NC, so V&P runs through my veins.) There's not much taste of smoke, and I think they probably cook with gas or gas/wood combo at an offsite pit. They earn hardcore points, however, for slaughtering their own pigs. The buffet options really make this place what it is: in addition to their BBQ, they have great fried chicken, hash, red rice, hush puppies, mac and cheese, baked beans, banana pudding, and much more.

                  Best mustard 'cue: I gotta give this to Melvin's in Mt. Pleasant. I rank mustard 'cue right there with Lexington 'cue as far as my general preferences go, but Melvin's does a very good job--smoky and tender and well-sauced. The hash is pretty good, too, and I love the puffy onion rings.

                  I say all of the above with the caveat that I've yet to visit the BBQ "temples" in the outlying reaches of our area (not the type of places you can go to without advance planning since most are an hour or so away and operate with very limited hours): Sweatman's and McCabe's and Scott's Variety. My wife and I plan to take a road trip or two this fall. I mentioned in the above link that a Charleston Chowhound BBQ trip would make a great local Chowhound gathering, but, honestly, I'm probably too lazy to organize it!

                  1. re: Low Country Jon

                    Thank you for all the local bbq info, almost all of the above are on the "try" list. The only one we have been to has been Melvin's, but the James Island location. If you have been to the JI outpost, do you think there is a difference between that and the Mt. P location?

                    The only other places I am curious about are JB's smokeshack and Duke's, I have heard good things about both. Have you been to either one? A couple I know, who both grew up in Chas., love and swear by Duke's. I know they go to the one on Spruill, I am not sure if this makes a difference. I guess it is Q, hash and a slice of white bread, they are both hash lovers and give it high praise.

                    Back to pie for a moment, I did get the chance to buy a peach pie from Stono Market this past Sat. I have to say that I was underwhelmed. I think the crust may have been one of the frozen pre-made variety. The filling was really runny, and it reminded me of the gel they sell in the grocery stores for strawberry shortcake. The peaches were fresh and in a single layer on top of the gel, but the pie could have used more of them. The top of the pie was supposed to be a crumb top, I think, but it was soggy. Despite this glowing review, it didn't taste horrible, it just wasn't anything special. I am used to peach pies that are brimming with fresh peaches from crust to top, and it was what I expected with this pie. To be fair, there were other pies that looked better to me, the apple was one, but I wanted the fresh peaches. They also had banana bread and pineapple carrot bread, and those looked really good, but I went there with pie on the brain.

                    I think a Charleston Hound gathering sounds like a wonderful idea. I am probably too lazy also, but once the weather cools down and you remind me, I would give it a shot.

                    1. re: lizzy

                      I tried JB's Smokeshack a couple of years ago, and I didn't really like it that much. They make a point of saying the sauce is served on the side, but the problem is unsauced 'cue dries out pretty quick on a buffet line. I also didn't care for their sides too much, and the one window air conditioner in the place was not doing much to combat the summer heat the day we went. I haven't been to Duke's, but CharlestonFoodieGal didn't give it a very good review in the link I posted above.

                      That's too bad about the pie at Stono Market. A made from scratch fresh peach pie would be awesome right now. I've been using some of the SC peaches I've been buying from Boone Hall Farms to make peach muffins (using muffin mix, I must admit, sorry, Mom!), and boy, are those good. Speaking of produce, what kind of selection do they have at Stono Market?

                      In other news, my wife and I went to Carolina's last weekend, the first time since Chef Bacon started there. As the Charleston City Paper indicated, the service is a bit inconsistent (they brought us the wrong soup, for one), but the food was pretty good. I'd rank them along the likes of SNOB. I like that Chef Bacon is focusing on local produce when possible, some of it grown on the plantation the restaurant's owners also run. The highlights were the pork belly appetizer and crab wonton appetizer, the latter a carry over from Mama Rose's time in the kitchen.

                      1. re: Low Country Jon

                        The peach muffins sound good, muffin mix or not. I love Boone Hall Farms, I think I must make a trip there at least every few days. As for the selection at Stono, there wasn't anything there that you couldn't find at BHF. I found that BHF is cheaper and their selection is much more varied. The only thing that I will give to Stono is their shrimp, I guess they have their own trawler. Medium shrimp were $6.99/lb and large were $8.99/lb. I also want to mention that at least two people came in to buy a tomato pie while I was there. They also have some tables set up for lunch, $7.95 gets you a meat and two sides plus a drink. I think for the price it would be worth giving it a try.

                        Good to know about Carolina's. I also read the City Paper article on it, and the fact that Chef Bacon wanted to focus on local produce piqued my interest. Another one makes the list, the long, long list. :-)

      2. I just tasted a fantastic new crepe cake from the Charleston Crepe Company (the ones at all the farmer's markets). It was at least 20 layers and filled with a vanilla pastry cream. My friend who ordered the cake said they also can make it with chocolate or mocha cream. I am definitely ordering one for my next dinner party!

        1. Wow this is an older thread but I recently stumbled upon 3.14 Pies (love that name!) when searching for a few pies for a dinner party. They don't have a store front (although I was able to try a slice of their pies at Teds Butcherblock) but if you call a couple days ahead of time, you can order whole pies. We served the Pistachio Orange Blossom and Cran-Peary Crumb pies. They were delish! We'll definitely be ordering again.