Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop: A pie in the hand is worth two in the bakery case

Last week I made my way down the mountain and pointed the car westward. I don't drive to the west side very often these days, so there has to be something really special going on for me to hit the Pali.

Like pie.

I love pie. Sweet, savory, homemade and Hostess. I have spent hours discussing the technique involved in making the perfect crust, and whether the perfect crust can be achieved without lard. (The jury is still out.) But the thing I love most about pie is it's versatility. Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop in Olowalu pays homage to pie in all of it's forms. True confession: I would like to live in their display case.

(photo to come)

Housed in the former location of Chez Paul next to the Olowalu General Store, Leoda's is - plainly speaking - in the middle of nowhere. This makes it the perfect meeting spot for friends who live on opposite ends of the island, and a great place to grab a cup of coffee and a treat in the middle of a day of exploring our beautiful island, a meal to bring back with you to enjoy at the end of your adventure, or a treat for the flight home. The interior is bright and homey - it has the appearance of a huge eat-in kitchen, with wooden tables, gleaming stainless, and lots of windows. Right by the entrance there are some bar-height counters with stools, and a wall made of salvaged wood, it's paint faded but still colorful. When you arrive for dine-in or take out, you order at the counter - the menu is large, and it can feel like a lot of pressure to make a decision quickly while standing in line. You might want to grab a seat on one of the barstools and take your time perusing the options. Pie is just the beginning, but oh - what a way to start.

Leoda's has a vast pie menu - it ranges from the melt in your mouth dessert pies and tarts to classic beef or chicken pot pies with an herbed crust and rich gravy, to hand pies that resemble empanadas and come in both sweet and savory varieties.

The dessert pies come in various sizes: 3" minis, 5" small, or the 8" full size. I tried a fruit tart, a coconut cream pie, and a mac nut chocolate praline pie. They were all wonderful - graham cracker style crust on the coconut cream pie was one of the best I've had - but we were fighting over that chocolate pie. There was something sinful about it that kept you sneaking back for "just one more bite". And was that a hint of rum? Whatever it was, it was delightful.

I ordered the carnitas hand pie, with fond memories of the traditional empanadas I used to get at my neighborhood bodega in Boston that were served in a greasy paper bag. When my carnitas hand pie arrived however, it was served on a plate, with a fork. It had a golden flaky crust, but when I dug in, it was light on the shredded pork filling and fairly dry and flavorless as a result. At the next table, people were raving about their chicken pot pie, and my dining companion took one home for her family. I am looking forward to trying one on my next visit. As a chicken pot pie aficionado who makes pot pie from scratch on a regular basis, my bar is set very high. I have every hope that it will be met and surpassed at Leoda's.

But perhaps you are not such a fan of pie. I can't imagine, but I suppose there are a few of you out there. Fear not, Leoda's menu covers far more than just pies. They have a wide menu of interesting burgers and hot dogs, and hand cut fries. (Oh, lord....deliver me from the frites.) They also have fried mac n cheese with cheddar, gruyere, AND parmigiano; and reuben lumpia stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut, provolone and homemade thousand island dressing - both of which deserve your attention simply for being unique. Though I must confess: Just seeing a reuben ANYTHING on a menu makes this east coast girl's heart skip a beat.

Thankfully, the reuben makes another appearance on the menu. Have I mentioned Leoda's long list of sandwiches, served on house-baked bread? If the lumpia has satisfied your craving for reubens, try the seared ahi sandwich on grilled rye bread, piled high with sashimi grade tuna, watercress, carmelized kula onions and jarlsburg cheese, with fresh pesto. Make sure someone orders the fried brussel sprout salad, which was a revelation. Light, crisp, and melt-in-your-mouth heavenly, dressed with a burnt orange vinaigrette, celery leaves, radish, and local mint. Then you can call your mother and ask her what on earth she did to brussel sprouts when you were a kid to make you refuse to eat them until now. Clearly, you have been missing out.

Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop is one of the best versions of a road-side eatery I can imagine. A solid menu, friendly staff, and fast service make this a much better choice than a drive-thru joint. Get your food to go if you must, but I recommend grabbing a seat, enjoying the energy and admiring the pastry case. I'll be the one sitting on the bottom shelf, covered in crumbs.


13 double u's said...

Everything sounds delicious. And I love reading things that you write...it's like we're having a conversation and I can hear you describing getting in the pastry case. Can't wait to try this place when I visit Maui myself.

Artful Hawaiigirl said...

Travel girl, what a great post about Leoda's Pie Shop. We've returned a few times with guests enroute to Kaanapali and during Christmas House. Loved the Chocolate Macadamia nut caramel lined pie. (Must share as it is too rich for one person).