MAIN STREET — A new restaurant on Main Street hopes to bring a cuisine from the other side of the world a little closer for hungry customers.
Aussie Pie Kitchen, which held its grand opening on Wednesday, specializes in the sort of savory pies more commonly seen in Australia and other commonwealth countries like South Africa or New Zealand.
“My ambition here is that every Australian who comes in here and knows what a pie is, is simply going to say to me ‘that’s the best pie I’ve ever eaten,'” said Nick Bishop, the shop’s co-owner.
“The other 90 percent of people who don’t know what an Aussie pie is, my ambition is for them to just say, ‘I just ate delicious food.”
Joe Youkhan, a champion of the Food Network reality cooking show Chopped, serves as the pie shop’s culinary advisor, helping to make Australian cuisine for West Los Angeles tastebuds.
“Unlike the typical Australian pie where you eat it in your hand with sauce, we just wanted to have a bunch of accompanying sides that would take the flavors of our pie to another level,” Bishop said.
“Also for those people who have dietary restrictions or concerns. I wanted to satisfy the Santa Monica or Venice client who’s not going to eat a pastry pie,” Bishop said.
Bishop, who owns the shop with co-owner Geri Chua, is from Adelaide, but has lived and worked in West Los Angeles for decades. He said he chose Santa Monica in part due to the large Australian ex-pat community in the city as well as the large influx of Australian tourists that flood the beaches while on vacation.
In addition to the savory choices for lunch and dinner like the popular ‘lamb and rosemary’ pie, Bishop touted the other options at the shop including the stuffed croissant rolls and the “Brekkie Pies” for morning munchers.
Bishop said additionally that the restaurant’s stacking option gives eaters a chance to try a pie sandwiched between different sides.
Andrew Maines, 43, ordered the Tiger stack, which involves a pie in the middle of generous helpings of garlic mashed potatoes and minty mushy peas.
“What stands out about this place is it’s high quality ingredients,” Maines said. “I felt like I wasn’t eating something really bad for me.”
Maines, who already calls himself a regular customer, added that the late night bar crowd might prove to be a great customer base for the pie shop.
“If I was drinking on Main Street today, instead of a greasy pizza, I’d probably pick up one of these to-go,” Maines said.
Bishop said the idea for the pie shop sprung up about a year ago after a period of a few days where he traveled around eating pies at various locations around the country.
“I just thought West LA needs a pie shop,” Bishop said. “We wanted to make delicious and gourmet pies, instead of the stock standard Aussie meat pie.”
But turning the idea for the business into an actual restaurant proved harder than Bishop originally anticipated, due to Santa Monica’s strict permitting guidelines.
The storefront languished for months, advertising the pie kitchen, but without pies actually being made inside.
“It was frustrating because we had a lot of people banging on the doors and asking when we were opening,” Bishop said.
The restaurant jumped through the last of the bureaucratic hoops earlier this month and had its soft opening shortly after, Bishop said.
While the pie choices are displayed prominently in the shop windows, Bishop said the shop also gives customers a chance to try another Australian specialty-coffee.
Bishop said many of the Australians who heard about the opening of the pie shop were as excited about the coffee as the pastries.
“The logic being you can drink two or three cups of coffee a day, but you can’t eat two or three pies a day,” Bishop said.
Colin Coggins, 30, said it was his first time eating at the restaurant and said he was impressed by the soft yet flaky texture of the pie crust.
“I’m a huge chicken pot pie fan, but these blow them out of the water,” Coggins said. “I’ll definitely be back-actually probably tomorrow.”