TOUR DE FEAST — A couple years back the Tudor House, purveyor of British goods, served its last cup of tea. In a bittersweet departure, Tudor House owner Lee Morton, set up shop across the street at the Ye Old Kings becoming the only British bakery in town. It’s been the go-to place for savory pies in Santa Monica. Lovers of Lee’s pies city-wide took notice when Aussie Pie opened its doors just a couple of weeks back on Main Street. A savory pie from down under? Is Santa Monica big enough for two purveyors of meaty pies?
Of course there is always room for more pie in town, and there are qualities that make the old school Kings Head Bakery and the brand spanking new Aussie Pie kitchen unique.
At the Kings Head Bakery, behind the glass display you will find an assortment of sweet scones, biscuits and √©clairs. But most of the confections take a back seat to the assortment savory pies piled high and baked fresh daily. There are a number of offerings including beef & onion, steak & kidney, and vegetable curry. For a bit under five bucks the pies can be warmed up and bagged to-go. The pies have some weight. The pies also contain lots of flavor that permeates through the bag yielding a glossy sheen on the paper. The super buttery crust does not advertise low cal. However, the vegetable curry filling plays well with such a rich exterior. The beef varieties are quite tasty as well, but all that greasy goodness can be overkill. The crust is strong enough to accommodate handheld eating but can become a messy affair.
On the other hand, the Aussie Pie warrants a fork and knife. Actually with such a fall apart flaky crust you could do away with the knife all together. Aussie Pie has such offerings like the classic beef, steak & Shiraz, lamb & rosemary plus a veggie pie too. The pies are presented in a pasty tin and appear like a traditional offering, however there are avant-garde upgrades that are unique to the Aussie Pie Kitchen. ‘Tiger Stack’ your pie by plopping it in a pile of mashed potatoes, smothered in mushy peas and savory gravy. Stacking a pie will turn your pie into a full on meal but it will also set you back $8-$12 for the pie and an additional $4-7 for the stack. The Aussie Pie can get pricey but the copious amounts of filling are worth their weight in savory goodness.
Whether you are longing for Tim-Tams or think a can of Spotted Dick would make a great novelty gift, Ye Old King’s Head Bakery and Shoppe not only offers great pies but a wide variety of hard to find British goods too. Lee is as friendly as can be, and has found himself a nice nook in the east wing of the King’s Head.
The Aussie Pie Kitchen is a welcome edition to Main Street. After the bars close, Main Street becomes a waist land for late night eats (aside from Holy Guacamole). With Aussie Pie’s late night hours things are now a little more diverse. Stop in during the day, and chances owner Nick Bishop will offer you a sample of something and will be more than happy to talk you through the Aussie Pie experience. They have very good coffee to, but that is for another time and article.
Which pie reigns supreme? The diplomatic answer is they both have their merits and drawbacks as well. Kings Head version is almost half the cost of the Aussie Pie, portable, but tends to lean on the heavy side. Aussie Pie is not as heavy, offers more options, but are more pricey. In the end, my taste buds won and my waistline lost. Thankfully I’ve readied my form hiding clothes with Santa Monica’s ‘cold’ months right around the corner.