Whether you're looking for pot pies or dessert pies, PiesAnna has you covered
PiesAnna is on a wide street at a farther end of Verdun than I’m used to going to. And during a wet snowfall, it felt very far indeed from Montreal’s usual urbane density, but welcoming even though I was surely the only one who wasn’t at least familiar with the others in this neighbourhood spot.
Clumps of late lunchers were finishing up their meals. Many of them senior, mostly anglo. A young, downy-bearded dad wandered the room, holding and comforting his son whom I imagined would sprout a similar patch of fuzz one day.
The room is plain, but generously decorated with Xmas garlands and lights. I sat in the glassed-in terrace front half, with the mix of live and fake plants, all relatively flourishing. The kitchen and tall display fridge of pies is in the back.
I’m there for pies. But there’s plenty of regular-and-above casse-croûte fare, from poutine to hotdogs, pasta to roast beef, sandwiches to garden salad. All cheap enough to ensure you could eat well and leave a tip for $10 easily, less at breakfast.
A slice of beef pot pie comes with choice of potato and veg. Before too long a hearty plateful with a quarter slice arrived, plus a bowl of steaming gravy. Two mounds of mashed potato, iceberg salad and some still-vivid cooked carrot and broccoli. The sides were fair, the pie was very good, nicely plump with tasty meat, peas and potato chunks.
Chef Tim emerged from the back to check that everyone was happy. He apologized for the wait for the fish and chips to the grey-haired trio next to me, who replied that they found his version so good that they stopped going to the nearby restaurant Bingo for their fix.
To me, Tim explained the acidic note in the mashed potatoes (lemon juice) and that everything was homemade (except the powdered beef gravy, he conceded). Pie crusts done with Crisco, healthier than lard. Fries cut from the whole potato. And expect to wait 15 minutes for your fresh-made hamburger. "If we wouldn’t eat it, we won’t serve it," Tim said.
Time to take home pie. Choosing the chicken pot pie was easy – fat with clean chunks of meat, potato and carrot (the homemade chicken gravy proved salty and lemony).
Dessert pies were more difficult. Any six slices count as a whole. Anna herself, Tim’s mum, the short, brown-eyed mistress of all pies, emerged. She puffed away my entreaty for help, then when I picked cherry, peach and chocolate, quickly said, "You don’t like lime?" Um. The Kool-Aid hue made me nervous. During my pause she chose my six.
Uh oh, five slices alone nearly filled the tin. I wavered. Decided to take an entire cheesecake pie home (graham cracker crust, tangy and curd-textured cream cheese filling). And decided to eat a half slice of chocolate pie on the spot and slip the other half in the pie plate. The custard filling was rich, smooth and had no right to be this enticing so far from my usual stomping grounds. At home, I discovered all were good honest pies with stand-up crusts. Even the suspiciously coloured lime had its fluffy tart charm.
The Italian-born Anna confirmed the pun in the name. PiesAnna, paesana, loosely meaning "neighbour." When I clucked about whether the plastic twine around my boxes would hold for my walk, she offered to lend me a bag. Pretty neighbourly indeed.
5300 Verdun; 514-507-7676
Meal: under $10