Food Trend – Pot Pies are Back

Maybe it was the cricket flour. It tasted good, and so did the puff pastry topping, and the fillings I tried were great. I loved the idea of the collaborative pie, created in partnership with another restaurant. Nevertheless, The Dispensary, whose menu was based on personal pot pies, is already closed.

That doesn’t mean pot pies have disappeared from the trend wave. They’re still cresting.

All of a sudden they’re everywhere. Like pork belly, chicken and waffles and sea bass before them, pot pies are the darlings on everyone’s menu. I’m not sure where or why the trend started (if you know, enlighten me, please) but I do know that while some of the pies are traditional, others are decidedly not. The best one we’ve tasted so far was not made with the traditional chicken—it was rabbit meat. But we’re still tasting.

High Expectations — The pie looked highly promising—crowned with a golden dome of puff pastry—and smelled delicious when it was brought to the table. Hub and Spoke serves vegetable and chicken pot pies; they both come served in a hot iron skillet. I tried the chicken, and ended up fishing for the bits of chicken lost in an over-abundant thick cream sauce, under the toughened crust. Reheated? Microwaved? Anyway, the vegetable pot pie was the winner, though it did seem a lot like the chicken pie, only without the pretense of chicken. The pastry was tenderer and the sauce was not as stiff.

Humble Pie — You don’t expect to find a complicated dish like pot pie in a garage-turned-bar but Garage on Beck’s kitchen is always surprising. Their version of CPP had great tasting filling, although like Hub & Spoke, the cream sauce was too thick, bordering on wallpaper paste. Corn kernels, carrot cubes, celery bits and chicken were all the same size and indistinguishable as individual tastes, although the melange blended into a savory mouthful. The top was draped with a square of conventional pie crust, which really works better than puff pastry—it kept its crispness and flavor.

Hop to It — Just forget about Thumper. Rabbit is—and has been—eaten all over the world, including the U.S., for centuries. The meat is mild, lean and usually farmed more sustainably than most cows, chickens or turkeys. It’s also extremely tasty. So stop thinking pet and start thinking pot when when you see rabbit on the menu. Steve Garner at Avenues Bistro on Third (which I wish would come up with a shorter name) braises rabbit in white wine with sage, makes a sauce (really a gravy) with chicken broth and tarragon and combines the meat with carrots, peas and potatoes before topping it with a lattice puff pastry crust. The result is comfort food at its most seductive.

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Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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