The Pie Commission
The Pie Commission recently opened along The Queensway in Etobicoke, selling fresh and frozen handheld savoury pies from the walk-up window of its factory outlet facility. Tucked away in the rear of the building, I follow the signs around back to find the bold, impossible-to-miss black and white storefront. A large poster of a bowler hat-wearing, moustachioed gentleman confidently declares that I'm in for some "bloody good pies!"
Before testing the dapper gentleman's claim, I chat with Patrick Blessing, whose wife, Kyra, is one of the owners while he runs the shop. A former banker, Blessing developed his appreciation for savoury pies while spending most of his twenties working in London, England. Blessing's childhood friend and co-owner of the business, Mike Dahm, spent his twenties in another meat pie mecca, Australia. "Given our experiences in England and Australia, we thought this was a food that was missing in Toronto, particularly non-traditional, more gourmet pies," Blessing explains.
The Pie Commission aims to reinvent the handheld savoury pie with a menu that features more traditional meaty fare, like Braised Beef Rib or Beef n' Beer, as well as some exotic twists and vegetarian options, like the Thai Green Curry Chicken Pie and the Not-a-Chicken Pot Pie. You can grab a hot five-inch pie to go for $6.95 (with a side of fries or salad for an extra $2.95), or you can pick up frozen pies to cook at home ($26.95 for a mixed pack of four). Mini pies are also available on custom order. Everything is made from scratch using natural ingredients.
The smell of freshly baked all-butter crust wafts from the take-out window, and I can only resist it for so long. I decide to try the popular Braised Beef Rib Pie, and after only a few minutes, my order is ready from the friendly staff at the window. The weight of the piping hot pie tells me I'm in for something rich and hearty, and I take a seat in one of the outdoor red Muskoka chairs to dig in.
The golden brown and flaky crust tastes, as promised, of real buttery goodness. The beef is cooked with homemade veal stock, and falls apart with tenderness. Flecks of sweet potato provide some colour and sweetness to the filling, and tiny whole mushrooms add to the hearty flavour. The pie is delicious comfort food, pure and simple. Within minutes, all that remains are the flakes of crust at the bottom of the pie sleeve (and covering my lap, if we're being honest).
I also pick up a frozen unbaked Kale-icious vegetarian pie to try a couple days later. After about 40 minutes in the oven, my kitchen is filled with the delicious aroma of buttery pie crust, and I'm treated to a "homemade" pie filled with veggies like tender broccoli and leafy green kale, as well as millet and the subtle tang of some goat cheese.
Blessing says that after only a few weeks, he already has a fair number of regulars who enjoy the convenience of both the ready-to-eat and frozen pies. Sure enough, as I enjoy my pie around 6 pm, a small crowd has formed outside the walk-up window. Enthusiastic repeat customers eagerly provide menu tips to hungry first-timers, and parents wait to pick up their frozen family dinner, kids in tow.
The Pie Commission is currently open 11-7 on weekdays, but by the end of September, they'll be open 12-7 on weekdays and also on Saturdays from 12-5. Blessing wants to open a second downtown location ASAP, and is considering King West, Liberty Village, or Kensington (where Kanga Pies recently started selling Aussie meat pies). With winter just around the corner, something tells me that this delicious and hearty comfort food will develop a loyal following in Etobicoke and wherever else they open.
Photos by Natta Summerky