Ever realized that the quintessential American pie comes in an abundance of sweet flavors but is lacking in the savory category? Luckily, the Australians are among those who seem to have had pies properly figured out for centuries. With the Aussie Pie Kitchen’s soft opening this past week on Main St., locals are bound to become acquainted with the Aussie pie.
Owners Nick Bishop and Geri Chua are more than eager to start introducing more of the Westside to the fundamentals of this Australian fare.
When it comes to the realm of savory, meaty pies, most Americans tend to only be familiar with the chicken pot pie.
“The difference is that you can hold [Aussie pies] in your hand like an empanada or a hot dog,” Bishop explained. “It’s more of a robust piece of food.”
The Aussie pie is “considered everyday food,” and though it is “not particularly glamorous,” it is an iconic dish that naturally carries with it familiar customs, like squirting ketchup inside, incorporating other side dishes, and eating the pie “straight out of the bag” that it is generally served in. Bishop and his staff strive to take the taste of the typical pie to the next level.
“What we like to do is really improve the flavors,” Bishop said. “My objective is for every Aussie to come in and say: ‘This is the best pie I’ve ever eaten in my life.’ And for the other 90 percent who don’t know what an Aussie pie is, I’m just interested in giving them really great food.”
Aussie Pie Kitchen offers five pie options made with traditional pastry and topped with a flaky croissant finish, alongside three quiche-esque “brekkie” pies sans the pastry tops.
The five main choices come in both a standard five-inch size as well as three-inch slider portions. The flavors and prices are as follows: lamb and rosemary pie ($11.95 for the five-inch pie / $6.50 for the slider), steak and shiraz pie ($8.95/$4.95), chicken and tarragon pie ($8.95/$4.95), summer veggie pie ($7.95/$4.25), and the classic beef Aussie pie ($7.95/$4.25).
The brekkie pies come in five-inch sizes and in three options: applewood smoked bacon with aged cheddar, sausage with aged cheddar, and feta kale, each priced at $4.95.
To accompany all of these the pies, Aussie Pie Kitchen provides customers with a variety of side dishes, both hot and cold. Though the typical condiment combined with the Aussie pie is ketchup, other hot side dishes like garlic hand-mashed Yukon gold spuds ($4), minty mushy peas ($4), and cream gravy ($1) all compliment the pies in their own respective manner.
“Eating the pie plain and eating it with ketchup can be compared to drinking wine with a piece of cheese,” Bishop said. “Wine is great alone, but everything changes when the cheese is added. Ketchup changes it one way, and the side dishes dramatically change up the taste in other ways.”
Bishop has also kept in mind the health- and fitness-centric nature of Santa Monica residents.
“On the Westside, there are a lot of people who are calorie-conscious, and for some, these pastry pies are not going to satisfy,” Bishop said. “This is where our cold sides come in.”
The refreshing cold side dishes offered at Aussie Pie Kitchen include a succotash of sweet corn and edamame ($4), quinoa of summer veggies ($4), and an heirloom tomato medley ($5).
Aussie Pie Kitchen is also seeking staff to solidify its catering business. With the usual catering businesses offering only familiar, often mundane food options, Aussie Pie Kitchen holds the potential to jazz up company luncheons, dinner parties, and other events with its “different, yet super tasty” cuisine.
Bishop said that he and his staff were already brainstorming out-of-the-box ideas for future recipes, as the nature of the Aussie pie is so versatile.
“As long as the ingredients are not too sloppy or not too dry, we can put it in a pie,” Bishop said. He cited a mac n’ cheese pie and a “surfer’s pie with chicken and coconut, which [one] can eat cold,” as two concepts in the making.
The menu also boasts sausage rolls, other pastry treats, and hot/cold drinks. The eatery imports coffee beans from Vittoria Organic Coffee in Australia, a 60-year-old national favorite that stands as a formidable match against the run-of-the-mill coffee found in most cafes.
All of the menu items are made in-store under the guidance of the pie kitchen’s culinary advisor, chef Joe Youkhan, who happens to be the Food Network’s current “Chopped” champion.
It’s clear that the Aussie Pie Kitchen upholds a high standard of quality, from the pie ingredients to the coffee-making process to the trained staff members.
“What we really hope is to build a great little business, have our coffee as our mainstay, grow our catering business, and sell a lot of pies as breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Bishop said. “We just want to offer great food to our customers.”
Aussie Pie Kitchen is located at 2510 Main St. Its official grand opening will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 15.
For more information, call 310.399.0743 or visit aussiepiekitchen.com.