Pacific Pie Company

Apparently, while our knowledge of savory pies here in America is largely confined to the supermarket frozen food section and the occasional pot pie on a menu, savory pies are HUGE in Australia, land of Vegemite, Tim Tams, Lamingtons, Shrimp on the Barbie, and perhaps tastiest of the lot, Hugh Jackman.

Sorry my dear Hugh Jackman, you’re perfectly lovely and everything, but upon exhaustive contemplation, I’ve decided that PIE is Australia’s tastiest export.

Hence, Portlander’s are bloody fortunate to have Pacific Pie Company–a spunky little Southeast pie shop that’s earnestly filling this American culinary void with their lovely warm golden baked medallions of PIE. Beef and stout pie, roast lamb pie, Moroccan chickpea pie, creamy chicken pie, chili con queso pie, spicy lentil and coconut pie, Southwest Buffalo pie. And let me not forget the carefully crimped half-moon shaped spinach and feta pasties (pah-sties), and deliciously savory sausage rolls–a sheet of pastry wrapped around herb-seasoned housemade sausage.

Owners Sarah Curtis-Fawley and Chris Powell’s pie dreams became a reality after a long walkabout through careers in custom home furnishings and criminology, the wilds of Australia and Philadelphia, and stacks of dog-eared cookbooks. The two met in Chris’ native Australia, when Sarah moved to Oz to pursue a Fulbright fellowship in criminology. She joined a co-ed footy, (Australian Football) where she met Chris, an Adelaide native with the dreamy accent to match. Fortuitously for the two of them and the Portland pie-loving public, a union was forged and the couple moved to the States, where Sarah decided to brave a big career change and follow her love of food.

Prompted by a stint at Coleman Restaurant outside Philadelphia, the hours upon hours Sarah spent poring over her beloved Nigella Lawson and Rose Levy Beranbaum cookbooks, and the couple’s mutual longing for the savory Aussie pies they left behind, the two decided to throw themselves headlong into pie-making. They returned to Australia, and headed straight to the epicenter of Australian pie lore, venerable Old Stone Hut Bakery. The bakery, which is housed in a 136-year-old cottage three hours north of Adelaide, deep in the Outback, humbly claims to make the”Best Pies in the Universe,” and had been a favorite stop for the couple following mountain biking expeditions. The bakers generously agreed to share their pie and pastie expertise with Sarah. When the couple returned to the US, filled with pie zeal, they packed their car up and moved West to Portland.

They diligently experimented with a variety of ingredients, fillings, and perhaps most importantly, pie crusts, finally settling on an all-butter version made with McMinnville’s Rose Valley butter and Sarah’s secret weapon, a bit of cream cheese, which creates the tender, airy, flaky, crispy crust that surrounds the pies. And since, like your mother always told you, it’s what’s on the inside that counts–Pacific Pie’s vendor list reads like the Farmers’ Market Who’s Who–Denison, Deep Roots, Heavenly Harvest, Gathering Together, and Sun Gold farms, along with SuDan Farm for lamb, Draper Valley certified free range chicken, Sweet Briar Farms pork for the housemade sausage rolls, and Lonely Lane Farm’s grass-fed beef.

Sarah and Chris serve their oven-warm pies, pasties, sausage rolls, crisp salads, savory homemade soups and dozen or so sweet pies (think Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, Apple Sour Cream Streusel Pie, Pumpkin Cream with Ginger Cookie Crust, and Drunken Pear Pie made with neighboring Deco Distillery’s Ginger Rum), from a sleek little bi-level bar-endowed café along SE 7th Avenue.

If your lunch hour is limited, buy your pie, eat it in the light-filled little upstairs pie nook, bus your table and go, or if you’ve got a bit more time for a pie walkabout, sit down in the café’s main dining room and order an Aussie Caesar and basket of addictive mini-sausage rolls with housemade beer mustard to start. Or stake your claim to a bar seat and settle in for a cricket match, which stream on the television perched over the array of Southern Australian, Tasmanian and West Coast beers, and (my personal favorite) sparkling Shiraz. And for those who’d like to fill their freezer with pies and pasties for a rainy day, a case of fresh frozen goods is standing by.

Sorry my dear Hugh Jackman, you’re perfectly lovely and everything, but upon exhaustive contemplation, I’ve decided that PIE is Australia’s tastiest export.


Cuisine: Australian

Executive Chef: Sarah Curtis-Fawley, Chris Powell

Owner: Sarah Curtis-Fawley, Chris Powell

Pastry Chef: Kate Withiam

Atmosphere: Cozy, comfortable, insanely-delicious smelling den of pie

Outdoor seating: No

Best Seat: At the bar, particularly if you're a cricket, footy, or rugby enthusiast

Noise Level: Normal

Dress Code: Casual

Bring the Kids: Yes

Bathrooms: All the way to the back of the dining room, out the back door, and down the hall

Parking: Street parking is free and generally easy to find

Beer: Yes, excellent selection of Australian and West Coast beers

Wine: Yes

Coffee: Yes

Tea: Yes

Ideal Meal: Aussie Caesar, Cocktail Sausage Rolls, Beer & Stout Pie, Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Vegetarian Friendly: Yes

Good for the following occasions: Pie Cravings, Rugby Parties, Family Supper, Date With Hugh Jackman Clone

Catering: Pacific Pie caters all sizes and types of events, email for more info

Reservations: No

Take-Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes, Pacific Pie collaborates with Portland Pedal Power to provide lunchtime delivery, see the website for more info

Catering: Pacific Pie caters all sizes and types of events, email for more info