While there is a burgeoning foodie scene in Quezon City – and in Manila, in general – I am disappointed by the lack of options we have for good-tasting, hefty pies. There are a few places that have attempted, but I always find something wrong with their pies – too small, the pie crust is too flaky or too thick, the crust-to-filling ratio is all wrong, the filling is not served at the right temperature (I got served cold pie that was supposed to be warm), there’s little to no variety in terms of the flavor, and most of them look and taste store-bought. The only time I am able to have really good pie is when I travel outside the country, or when someone from abroad hand-carries my favorite treat to be warmed and eaten in my kitchen.
I am very specific with how I like my pies. They have to look, taste, and smell homemade, which means that quality ingredients should be used. For sweet pies, the crust should not overpower the filling, and the filling itself should be sweet, but not cloyingly so.
When filled with fruit compote, the syrup should be jam-like in consistency and should not have a grainy texture, and the fruity flavor should still be there.
The texture of the fruits should also be apparent (like, mangoes are supposed to be silky, blueberries should have a slight pop despite being cooked, and apples should retain even just a smidgen of crunch).
Savory pies, on the other hand, have to taste and smell comforting, because why else would you be having pie if not for the urgent need for comfort food? I prefer saucy, meaty fillings, often made with lamb or beef or creamy chicken. The crust should be buttery and flaky enough, tender enough that you can cut into it with a fork, and while it should be a little sweet, it should not taste like it should be on a dessert pie. The filling has to be cooked, of course, with no trace of sweetness, unless it is flavored with plums or berries or raisins. It should be saucy enough, without drowning out the meat and vegetables.
When Pie Face, an Australian franchise, opened its first dine in branch in Eastwood City, I was a little skeptical. If fancier restaurants cannot get their pies right, how will this franchise fare? I had very low expectations when I first visited – I was prepared to be disappointed – and one bite convinced me otherwise. Their savory pies (I had a trio of small pies, namely, lamb, steak, and chicken) and they had all the characteristics I was looking for in my savory pies. The crust was perfectly done and properly buttery, the crust-to-filling ratio was on point, and they were filling enough. I especially liked the lamb, which tastes similar to our own caldereta, but milder in flavor, the meat incredibly soft – a feat, considering it is lamb. Paired with a tall ice blended coffee, the three small pies made for a full meal.
Of course I had to have some of their dessert pies. I had three of their mini-pies as well – lemon meringue, key lime, and chocolate. The key lime pie took me back to the sunny shores of Florida, the flavor was very good and exactly how it is supposed to be. The lemon meringue pie was my favorite of the trio. The filling was properly tart and sweet, and the meringue was the perfect counterpoint to the sour notes of the lemon. I wasn’t expecting much with the chocolate pie but it was also surprisingly good. The chocolate filling had a mousse-like consistency, covered in milk chocolate ganache. The crust was buttery and was pretty solid, but also a tad crumbly. It had just the right amount of sweetness and was the perfect base for the sweet fillings and toppings.
The best part about these pies is that they are very reasonably priced – a trio of small pies do not cost more than 150 pesos, whether you opt for the sweet or savory ones. Full-sized ones cost a little over a hundred, which is already a good deal, considering similarly-sized, mediocre ones can cost double.
The place itself is comfy and cozy and conducive for working. There are multiple power sockets and the air conditioning is cold. It resembled a hip co-working space, but with the added bonus of having a heavenly, buttery smell.
If, like me, your jaded palate wants some really good pies, this place is worth a visit. Bring your laptop while you’re at it because you will surely get some work done.
Pie Face is located at the ground floor of Eastwood Mall in Eastwood City, beside True Value.