First Bite: Hen and Now
Walnut Creek’s Chicken Pie Shop makes retro cool.
This past year alone, Chick’n Rice, Proposition Chicken, and Hawking Bird—the last by superstar Commis chef James Syhabout—has made fowl fair game. New to the restaurant flock is Walnut Creek’s Chicken Pie Shop, a riff on San Diego Chicken Pie Shop (the recipes used at the Walnut Creek location are derived from this popular 80-year-old original) and a prototype for pie shops to come.
Managing partner Huy Bui—who owns Mavericks Country Lounge and Pick 6 Sports Lounge, both in Pleasanton—found a cavernous space on a downtown side street, and with chef Miguel Mendoza is testing the Chicken Pie Shop concept prior to a major “bar-to-barn” renovation (a roomy floor plan with a 360° bar, repurposed wood, fireplace, patio, and plenty of brick). A revamp is expected in the coming months.
But don’t wait for the reopening; the food is already dynamite. On our anonymous visit, Bui was behind the bar dishing out draft beers and advice on what to order. The eponymous pie is flaky and pure comfort food—especially with a combo of garlicky, rustic mashed potatoes and buttery peas, corn, and carrots.
Mendoza’s debut menu is as expansive as it is inexpensive, with carnitas from the Yucatan and satay from Indonesia. We stuck with an American theme, sampling a whole-shrimp Louis and a hearty pot pie of short ribs spiked with black pepper and herbs. Mendoza has cooked in Napa and San Francisco, and even worked as a pastry chef, so for dessert, check out how he’s repurposed the pie dough into a tasty apple tartlet with fresh whipped cream.
1251 Arroyo Way, Walnut Creek, (925) 322-8799, chickenpieshopwc.com. Lunch and dinner daily.