Thursday, October 04, 2018

Mission Pie

Update Review, October 2018

Mission Pie always has three pies: Banana Cream, Walnut, and Chess pie (made with seasonal fruit).  On Fridays and Saturdays they add in Chocolate Cream, and Sundays always have a fun "nostalgic" flavor.  The rest of the lineup is rounded out by seasonal pies, like the incredible Lemon Shaker pie in the winter.

I finally got a chance to try some of these signature pies, along with a end of summer/early fall seasonal offering.

As always, I wasn't into their crusts.  The crust is fine, pretty, fluted, but kinda hard, and just not very flavorful.  It is fine, really, just not really worth talking about or craving.

All pies are $4.85 per slice, or $29 for a full pie.
Walnut (Everyday Signature Pie).
"Like pecan but with California grown walnuts."

Walnut pie is not something I had prior to moving to California, but nearly every bakery here that specializes in pies has a signature walnut pie, like the Salty Honey Walnut one from Three Babes (that I don't care for, review coming soon), or the Black Bottom Walnut from Pietisserie (that I also didn't care for, review also coming soon).  Mission Pie is no different, with a walnut pie on the menu every day.

I adore pecan pie, and I don't dislike walnuts, but for some reason walnut pies often trend very bitter for me.  But Mission Pie actually didn't have this problem, as, well, I think their pies tend to be overly sweet.

I liked the walnut pie.  The custard filling was sweet and perfectly complimented the walnuts, and these nuts weren't as overly bitter as so many other bakers.  There were a good amount of large size walnuts, good ratio with the custard, not runny.

A good pie, no question.  I'd gladly have it again.  I think my third favorite of all their pies.

Best warm, and even better with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Raspberry Chess (Seasonal Signature Pie).
Mission Pie always has a Chess pie on the menu, but rotates with seasonal fruit.  I tried the raspberry one, a summer offering.

I laughed a bit when I saw it though, the, uh, distribution of raspberries was fairly uneven.  The berries were fine, juicy pops of fruit, but I was glad to get one without much fruit, as I dislike the seeds in the berries.

But the really great part of this pie was the chess pie filling, and that I adored.  Excellent, sweet, thick custard.  Perfectly set.  A little bit of fruit in here was nice to add something interesting to the base, but I adored the base, and honestly would have been fine with just that.

I really liked this, my second favorite Mission Pie overall, still not quite unseating the Lemon Shaker.
Strawberry Apple Crumble (Seasonal).
For the summer to fall transition, Mission Pie offered up a strawberry apple pie, a strange combo that I hadn't seen before, but, makes sense.  Strawberries have a long season in California, and apples were just starting.

The apple helped cut the sweetness of the strawberry in a way that was more successful than the strawberry rhubarb pie, but this was still a very sweet pie.  I love sweet, but I think they really over-sweeten the filling, and I'm not sure why.  

I loved the crumble top, sweet streusel, very flavorful, and generous.   I loved the huge huge chunks of juicy soft strawberry, and the texture change from the chunks of apple, but, it was just too much sweet to have a lot of.  Unless of course you add lots of whipped cream and ice cream, which I did, but still, just, too sweet.

Update Review, March 2017

I don't live in, nor visit, the Mission all that often, so I've only had Mission Pie a few times.  When you ask folks who do live in the Mission about recommendations for pie though, they'll all tell you to go there.  Long before I wrote a blog I did visit in person once or twice, and I recall not really being blown away.  Since then, I've had a couple chances to try Mission Pie when a co-worker has nicely brought it in, like the strawberry-rhubarb pie I had mixed feelings on, or the very delicious Peach Blackberry Crumble Pie.  But still, not somewhere I seek out normally.

I'll skip all the details about Mission Pie since I've covered that in past reviews (all butter crust, 2/3 wheat flour, yadda, yadda), and just focus on the pie I tried this time around.
Mission Pie!
Just like my previous chances to try Mission Pie, this one began with an e-mail: "Pie in the microkitchen!"  The sender didn't say where the pie came from, nor what kind of pie it was.  And I was in the middle of a TRX class when it arrived.  It was about 30 minutes after the e-mail when I was able to seek out pie for myself.

I turned the corner, and saw boxes of pie.  Yes!  The boxes said Mission Pie on them.  Yes!  But ... most were entirely empty, not even a stray crust remained.  There was just one box left with anything in it, with a handwritten sign that said "Shaker Lemon".  Doh.  30 minutes is a long time in the world of exra pie.

I'll be honest - I almost just turned away.  I remembered having mixed feelings on Mission Pie.  But, moreover, I just don't like lemon desserts.  And, I was coming straight from the gym, I shouldn't really dash right for the pie ... right?  Yeah right.

I decided I'd take a small piece, just to try it.  I took my little slice, grabbed a fork, and started walking away.   I took one bite, and then promptly turned back.  And took a "real" slice, you know, a "this pie serves 6 people only" sort of slice.
Shaker Lemon Pie. $27/pie.
"Meyer lemons (rind and all!), sugar, eggs and that's it! Sweet, tart and unaccountably delicious!"

I didn't know what Shaker Lemon Pie was before I tried this pie.  I didn't know that you could make citrus pies that weren't just a curd or custard filling.  I didn't know that I could like a lemon pie.  And then I tried this.

It was strange, I'll start with that.  Shaker lemon pie, if you are also unfamiliar, has thin slices of whole lemons in it.  Peel and all.  It is tart and it is chewy from the rinds, but also sweet, as the fruit is macerated in sugar, and there is a bit of quasi-custard to hold it all together.  The flavor is not mild, so you have to like lemon, which I do ... just not usually in desserts.  I'm starting to think that perhaps I just don't like lemon curd, and that is the common way lemon shows up in dessert?  Anyway, it took a bit of getting used to, such strong flavor, tart and sweet, but really quite delicious.

The crust however was fairly meh.  Double crusted, lovely sugar topping, thick, well sculpted back crust, but, it tasted a bit dry and I wasn't into the whole wheat nature.  The crust sure looked great, but didn't really deliver, and certainly not in the way I remembered from previous Mission Pie pies.

But that filling.  It was pretty spectacular, and I'd gladly get it again.  

Thank you Mission Pie, for showing me that I can I like lemon desserts.

Update Review, October 2015

If you didn't read my original Mission Pie review, I suggest you start there, and then return to this update, since I'm skipping the background this time around.  See "Original Review, June 2015" below.

One Friday in July, a mere month after I published my original review of Mission Pie, I was sitting at my desk when an e-mail with a very appealing subject line showed up: "Peach and berry pie in the kitchen".

It had the following explanation: "I was at Mission Pie on my way to work and it looked awesome so I got one.  Because Friday.  Help yourselves.   Its still warm."

I love my coworkers.  Now, it was only 9:30am, but I rushed to the kitchen area.  Pie is totally legit breakfast, particularly if it has fruit, right?
Peach Blackberry Crumble Pie.
I apologize for this photo.

As I mentioned, I dashed to the kitchen moments after seeing the e-mail at 9:30am, and there was indeed a whole, hot, fresh pie.

I grabbed my slice, made a cup of coffee to enjoy alongside, went back to my desk to savor it, and then returned to take a photo.  I don't think it was more than 20 minutes later.  Definitely still before 10am.  And ... this is what was left.  Turns out, others were just as shameless as I was about eating pie for breakfast, and it was nearly gone.

For good reason.  This was a very good pie.

Inside were huge chunks of peach and blackberries.  The fruit was crazy sweet, definitely sweetened, but still quite tasty.  It really needed some whipped cream or ice cream on the side to counter it, which, if you got it at the shop itself, they would serve it with.

The topping was delicious, sweet, crunchy, and the perfect crisp topping.  The crust was buttery and flaky.

Overall a winner, and I love this concept of getting the best of both a crisp and a pie in one dessert.  Pie crust AND crisp topping.  YES!

I'd definitely eat this again.

Original Review, June 2015

Mission Pie is, you guessed it, a pie shop, located in the Mission.

Apparently they also sell some savories, such as soups and salads, plus quiches, pot pies, galettes, and tarts, although I'd argue that quiche, pot pie, galettes, and tarts are basically pies themselves, even if savory.  To go alongside your pie you can also get coffee or tea, or, if you stop in earlier in the day, they make scones and muffins too.  But basically, they make pie.

They do care about sourcing, and use local and organic ingredients as much as possible, even including the flour.  The pies use an all butter crust, which they make in large batches and then hand roll (except for vegan varieties, that use coconut and conola oil).  You might not expect a company whose business is pie making to care about health, but they do purposely use 1/3 white and 2/3 whole wheat flour and not too much sugar.

I was really excited when Mission Pie came to San Francisco, because, well, dessert.  And people all raved about it constantly.  Hype was high when they opened, and I eventually trekked all the way to the Mission for it.

I remember not being very impressed.  I visited perhaps two or three times a few years ago, and then moved on, and haven't thought about Mission Pie since.  But, recently, a co-worker showed up with a fresh whole pie, so I was eager to try again.

I also dug  up the tasting notes I somehow still have, from when I tried the banana cream pie, clearly something I got with Ojan, since it is often a favorite of his.  My notes were simple: "Not very good.  Crust not yummy.  Pudding layer totally generic.  Whipped cream totally generic".  Hmm, I wasn't impressed!  I hoped this time would be better.

And indeed it was.  I'm glad my co-worker brought the pie in, because now I'm eager to try Mission Pie again.
Strawberry Rhubarb, 9 inch, $24.
If you've read my blog for a while, you might recall how I feel about rhubarb in general.  It was the ingredient that ruined jam for me as a child.  I still have a thing against it.  So I wasn't thrilled when I saw the variety of pie my co-worker had chosen, but still, I persevered.

The pie did not have not the tartness I expect from rhubarb, although there were generous chunks of nicely cooked down rhubarb (and strawberries of course).  The fruit was in a very thick sauce, which I think was highly sugared, even though they claim they don't use much sugar.  The filling was far to sweet to be just from the strawberries alone.

It was double crusted.  The top crust was perfect, although the edges were pretty crisp.  It had a rich butteriness that reminded me of a croissant.  I guess all butter crust will do that.  The bottom crust was quite doughy, not actually cooked through, but, I liked it that way.

Right after lunch I had a slice alongside a cup of black coffee, and it totally satisfied my sweet tooth.  The super sweet pie plus the black coffee made for a great pairing.  However, when I went for a second slice later, it was just too sweet for me.  It clearly needed whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream, to cut the sweetness (which I would have gotten if in the shop itself).

You can get pie by the slice ($4), or a whole 9 inch for $24.  If you get a slice in store, it comes with complimentary Straus Family Creamer organic whipped cream, or you can add Strauss vanilla ice cream for $1.50, and I'd clearly opt for at least one of those with this pie.

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Monday, October 01, 2018

Takeout from Legal Seafood, Copley Place, Boston

Legal Seafood.  In Boston.  As ... takeout?  Yup.

If you are unfamiliar with Legal Seafood, you might want to start with my reviews before from actually dining at a regular location, or getting takeout from a Legal location in an airport, or visiting a concept locations, Legal Crossing.
Takeout: Kid's fish sticks, grilled scallops, sauces.
My recent visit to Legal Seafood was a bit different from most.  Takeout, which I'd never recommend for seafood, but I had my reasons.  I was staying at the Westin Copley Place *right* there, and had a salad I had brought from home that I wanted to finish, that just needed some protein to add on.  A skewer of grilled scallops sounded perfect.

My travel companion just wanted some fish & chips, but not a full dinner, so I picked up a kid's meal for him too.  

It met our needs, but certainly was out of the norm for us.  It met Legal Seafood expectations: decent, not remarkable, but reliable.  And easy.
Legal Seafood Copley Place.
This Legal Seafood is inside the mall, on the second floor, so no exterior entrance to the street.  Instead it is at the end of a hall accessed from inside the mall only.  I didn't go into the full restaurant, so I can't tell you anything about it.
Takeout Counter.
On the side, before you even enter the restaurant, is a takeout counter.  The phone was constantly ringing with takeout orders, so this is clearly heavily used, likely by hotel guests?

It was easy and fairly convenient, although needing to walk through a mall and up and down escalators made a quick pickup take longer than I expected.
Kid's Meal: Fresh Cod Fish Sticks / fries / cole slaw / tartar sauce. $9.95. 
"All children’s meals are served with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and a choice of rice, mashed potatoes or french fries. "

What we really wanted was just a smaller portion of the fish & chips dinner, normally a big pile of fried fish served with fries, slaw, and tartar sauce.  The closest thing on the menu was the kid's fish sticks, so went for it, modifying slightly to better be what we wanted.

For the side, we picked fries, because, fish & chips.  We asked for cole slaw instead of the "fresh vegetables", which happened to be corn that day, and that was no problem.  Same with adding on some tartar sauce.

The fish sticks were ... ok.  Decently crispy crust, but, just kinda overcooked mushy fish inside.  Certainly not the same as the fried fish that is part of the adult meal.

The tartar sauce was unremarkable, just as I remembered from when I had it before.  Just kinda flavorless, although it had bits of pickle in it.

The fries were pretty bad.  Soggy, limp, thin, not salted, just very very very mediocre, the worst fries I've had in a long time.

The slaw was fine, crisp, nicely dressed, decently seasoned.  Nothing special, no different from grocery store slaw, but, definitely the highlight of the kid's meal.  Available a la carte for $1.95, or normally served with fried meals, easily subbed for corn in the kid's meal.

The "fresh fruit" was a little container, same size as the slaw and sauce, with red grapes in it.  They were fine.

For <$10, this really was a reasonable meal, so if you ever need to get takeout fish sticks, fries, and slaw for your kid, consider Legal!
Add a skewer of scallops. $9.95.
I also just wanted some grilled scallops to add to a salad I had waiting for me, as I needed protein to complete the meal.

As always, I could have opted for the full fried scallops dinner (with fries and slaw), or the grilled scallops entree (with any two sides and my choice of flavors), but I really just wanted a few scallops to throw on top my salad, not a full meal.  So I ordered, as I have before, just the add-on skewer of grilled scallops, on the menu (along with shrimp) as something you can add to other entrees.  It was no problem to order this way.

Last time I ordered the scallop skewer I opted for the cajun spice rub, but this time I kept it simple, just grilled, and ordered sauces on the side instead.  I figured no spice on the scallops would make them more versatile.

The scallops were decent. This time my portion was 4 large scallops, rather than the 7 smaller ones that I got last time.  Nice grill marks, good grilled flavor.  Fully cooked, but not rubbery.  Properly cleaned, not gritty.  I prefer mid-rare scallops, but these certainly weren't overcooked.  Three of the four had a nice sweetness.

Overall, good, not earth shattering, but reliable, and a good price at <$10 for the "skewer".
Sauces: Lemon Butter / Kung Pao.
To go with my scallops, I ordered a trio of sauces: kung pao, shandong, and lemon butter sauce.  When I opened my bag to eat though, I found only two.  Doh.

The lemon butter sauce was perfect for the scallops.  I was intending them as a topping for my salad, but I ended up liking the lemon butter sauce so much that I just dunked my scallops in it, and then ate my salad afterwards.  It was just a cream butter sauce, slight lemon flavor, but, the right compliment to the scallops.

The other sauce I believe was the king pao.  I didn't like it.  Not with the scallops.  Not with the fish sticks.  Not with the fries.  It was just sweet, not spicy, too strong on something (soy?).  Maybe it was right for, uh, chicken, but certainly not for anything we had, and I can't imagine anything from the grilled seafood menu that would pair well with it.

I'd gladly get the lemon butter sauce again, with any white fish or crustacean.  I could imagine it going well with the halibut, grilled haddock, shrimp, or maybe even swordfish.  I'd skip the kung pao, and try for the shandong again ...

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Fish Chowder. $9.95 (bowl).

Legal makes three different chowders, the signature famous New England Clam Chowder, a lite version, or a fish chowder.  All are available as a cup, bowl, quart, or gallon.  What we ordered was the clam chowder.  What we got?  The fish chowder.  Oops.

It came with a bag of 3 dinner rolls, quite crusty but actually tasty dunked in chowder, 2 packages of oyster crackers, and butter.

It was ... fine?  Chowder.  Chunks of potato, carrot, fish.  Decently seasoned.  The portion seemed small for $9.95 though.
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