Peanut butter pie at Dock Street Sandwich Co.
Why does it seem to be so difficult to find pie? I've found exactly two places in my recent dine-arounds that serve memorable, flaky crust, delicious pie – Dock Street Sandwich Company in Tacoma and Don's Drive-In in Puyallup
But I've got my pie radar set to "locate pie now!" And my radar keeps blipping empty. With berry season here and farmers markets, roadside stands and grocery stores loaded with berries – this is the time of summer we all want to dig into pie. We make it at home, but why does it seem so few restaurant serve it up for dessert? Or am I missing the restaurants that have great homemade – not prefab – pies?
Tell me where to find pie, please.
I'll share my pie finds with you, if you share yours. Take a look at these two pie finds:
Don's Drive-In: Puyallup
Where: 925 S. Meridian, Puyallup
I went to Don's Drive-In in Puyallup to prove a point to someone: Don's has far better burgers than Sonic. We ate at both Don's and the new South Hill Sonic in the same week. And I was right, my dining partner, said, "Don's is way better." So all you people who still are lining up at Sonic, point your car a few miles down the Meridian hill and land yourself at Don's for burgers and homemade pie.
At Don's I found puckery sweet rhubarb-strawberry and rich, luscious chocolate pie. The pie crust was flaky, and had that distinct crumble of homemade crust construction. I like a crust that's flaky, but moist enough that it doesn't deconstruct upon fork contact. Don's fits my crust criteria. The pie filling – also a hit. The strawberry-rhubarb filling was puckery sweet, with the sweetness tilting close, but not tipping over the right side of cloying. I saw the teenager serving up my pie take a big bowl of stiff whipped cream from the refrigerator and plop a big cloud on top of my pie. I like a place that isn't stingy with the whipped cream, and I like a place that has sweetened whipped cream on hand. In big bowls, even. The chocolate pie was deeply rich, and tasted more like a satiny, dark chocolate mousse than a pudding-y soft filling. It had the kind of richness I like in a chocolate pie, and paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – it made my Sonic triumph even that much more sweet.
Strawberry-rhubarb pie at Don's Drive-In in Puyallup
A brief Sonic caveat: My first experience at Sonic several weeks ago was so traumatizing, I haven't been able to write about it yet. I'm still in burger therapy. I will head back a second time just to see if it's gotten any better since the deluge after opening the first store in South Sound in late April. More on that later. Also, part II of my Burger Trail series is well underway. Keep watching here for more on that.
Pie roundup: Don's carries around 10 different pies that are made fresh on site daily, along with the homemade soups. Right now, they have marionberry and raspberry pies. Pies can be purchased whole, but 24 hour notice and prepayment are required.
Dock Street Sandwich Co.: Tacoma
Where: 1701 Dock Street, Tacoma
I don't know that Dock Street Sandwich Company necessarily is known for great desserts, but they should be. Homemade fudge and pie make me one happy diner. They have both in the dessert display case. On a recent visit, I struck pie fortune with peanut butter pie. It was a little bit savory, a little bit sweet and a lot chocolate-y. I liked that the filling was dense, but didn't taste like a peanut butter puck. The rich, ganache chocolate layer on top was thick and chewy. The chocolate crumb crust added another level of richness that proves to all mankind that chocolate and peanut butter really can be the best companions in desserts.
More on pie: I should note that last year I wrote about Suzie Sidhu, who won a pie category award at last year's Food Network pie challenge. She bakes pies for Cafe Panini in Enumclaw. It's a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the drive. Her seasonal berry pies are tops. She has a pie window and passers by can stop and watch her work. Suzie Sidhu, Café Panini, 1537 Cole St., Enumclaw; 360-802-5132. If Sidhu's name sounds familiar, it's quite possibly because she used to bake at The Sweet Shoppe in Buckley.