There’s something about winter that just makes you want to hole up and hibernate. I have never been one for cold weather and even the mild winters in Raleigh have me bundled up like Ralphie’s brother in “A Christmas Story.” It’s no surprise then that I turn to homey comfort foods in the winter; lots of soups, stews, and pot pie. We have heard about the delicious desserts at Piebird (618 N. Person St Raleigh, NC 27604) for a while, but I needed a piping hot pot pie on a particular chilly night.
The first thing that I noticed walking into Piebird was the set-up. Most of the seating is down a long, communal booth. It’s great if you have a larger crowd, but if you’re on a date, it’s not the most intimate setting. By the end of the meal, I knew more about the career plans of the diners next to us than we ever wanted to. I did like the small quirky touches though, I am in love with their bird salt and pepper shakers. If I wasn’t so honest, I’d be tempted to slip these in my purse and bring them home.
To start off the meal, we had an order of the pie cracklings, which were pieces of fried pie dough served with hummus. My favorite part of pie is the crust, so this was like heaven for me, a dish with nothing but crust! The hummus served with it was equally good, the only drawback was that it was so busy that night, our pie cracklings came only a few minutes before our main course, so I was double-fisting bites of pot pie while trying to get more of those delicious cracklings.
The menu for Piebird’s entrees is plenty small, just five different items, which was actually comforting for me. I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew with so few dishes, the kitchen could really concentrate on making them great. Matt and I took on two variations of chicken pot pie; I ordered the classic and Matt ordered the madras curried version. The classic pot pie was delicious; with a layer of crust on top, creamy sauce, and perfectly cooked veggies within. The potpies I’ve had at other places tend to be mush inside, so it was nice to have carrots, potatoes and peas that still had a nice bite. The only complaint I had was that I missed a layer of crust at the bottom. Overall though, Matt won with his pot pie choice; the addition of the curry brought a subtle heat and spice to an already great dish and the side raita and chutney brought a nice Indian influence to a very Western meal. The sides really brought the meal together. My tomato basil soup was exactly the comforting dish I needed and the fries Matt ordered may possibly be the best French fries in Raleigh; perfectly crisp and salted, with a great fluffy interior. It’s my understanding that the sides change up frequently, so if you’re there when the fries are offered, grab them while you can!
Finally, we reached the other main event; Dessert!!! There were lots of different dessert pies to choose from, but Matt went traditional with cherry pie. His pie was delicious, but Matt was hoping for a little bit more tartness. My choice, the honey sea salt pie was amazing. Sweet, but with just enough salt to balance it. Plus, once again, I could eat pie crust all day long and the crust was perfectly flaky and the great mix of savory and sweet.
If you want a long and complicated menu, there’s lots of places in Raleigh to choose from. But, if you want simple, but well-made comfort food, I can’t think of a better place to go. Even when it starts getting warm outside, I plan to be there, I just might need my pie a la mode.