What do you do with an empty vintage Art Deco building on a busy industrial street corner? Why, you fill it with a vintage eatery that caters to the tastes of the local labour force. But while most of us less creative types might think to offer soups, burgers with fries, and steak sandwiches, I now wonder what could be more vintage — or hearty — than a good, fresh-baked pie?
In recent years, the Point Ellice industrial zone has been gaining a reputation as the place to go for funky peoples’ food and beverage. No Foie gras, Chateaubriand, or fine Chateauneuf de Pape is served in this neck of the city, but you will find three fantastic microbreweries (Hoyne, Driftwood and Moon Under Water), a producer of hand-made ice-cream (Parachute) and a biker’s haven of a burger joint (Wheelies).
Saltchuck is the latest addition, and it is quickly earning a good reputation. I have friends who have already become regulars, and they wonder what has taken me so long to check it out.
The dark exterior of the little building at Bay and Turner belies the bright and spacious interior. Large windows on three sides and a 1950s palette of deep orange, light blue and gold create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
The 1950s theme is continued in the wallpaper pattern of extruded blue orbs, vintage signage, the building’s own curved corners, and the assorted collection of chrome and Formica tables surrounded by wooden chairs. This is not a place for a long stay, but it is far from uncomfortable — there is plenty of room around tables and the place is impeccably clean. You’ll forget about the gravel yard across the street.
Service is cafeteria style. All the pies, salads and squares are arranged behind glass. Make your selection, give your order to the receptionist at the till, and the busy folks in the back will pull it all together for you. It is up to you to take your tray, grab cutlery, paper napkins and water at the island, and pick a table.
I ordered the steak and onion pie made with blue cheese and Driftwood Breweries Blackstone Porter. These are individual sized pies, served warm. Big appetites will need two or three. At between $6 and $8.50 per pie, two is still an affordable lunch. I ordered just one. The crust was thick and soft, but there was plenty of meat within. The sharpness of the blue cheese is tempered by the other ingredients, so that it and the porter merely ramp up the richness (and goodness).
As a side, I ordered the quinoa and roast vegetable salad. Not exactly vintage, but its flavours are vibrant and they complement the pie.
Unfortunately, I found the salad too salty. Of course, being in a pie shop, dessert was mandatory. The rhubarb and strawberry pie tasted as I think a rhubarb-strawberry pie should taste: tangy and certainly not over sweet, and with a crust that is light and flaky.
Perhaps best of all, all of Saltchuck’s pies are available frozen, so you can take them home and enjoy them anytime, or serve them to your guests without anyone ever suspecting that you had to go slumming with the gravel trucks to get them.
Saltchuck Pie Company
360 Bay St. Victoria, V8T 1P7