For most of my life, I was more of a cake guy than a pie guy. But that has changed within the past decade or so. The change came as a result of seeing so many wonderful pie photos in restaurant reviews and trip reports on the old roadfood site, which is not what it used to be and no longer has the message board with the trip reports.
Pie was one of the more popular food items on that message board. Several of the regular posters waxed poetic over many a tall slice of cream pie; not that fruit pie was ignored. Eventually, looking at all of those photos and reading the rapturous descriptions of them made enough of an impact on me to convert me over to a pie guy. Of course, the process also involved eating a decent amount of it myself.
Perhaps the most popular restaurant for pie on the old roadfood message board was a place called Henry’s in West Jefferson, OH. It was on the old National Road (US 40) a little west of Columbus. Henry’s had been a service station that was eventually converted to a dilapidated looking diner. There was nothing particularly special about the rest of the food at Henry’s. But their pie drew people from many miles away.
I made two stops at Henry’s. The first time, I shared blackberry, coconut cream and custard pie with my wife. While I wasn’t nuts about the custard, the coconut cream was possibly the best piece of pie I had ever had up to that point. The filling was fresh-baked custard, not the instant pudding you get at some places. And the crust on the blackberry pie was incredibly good.
My second stop at Henry’s didn’t go quite as well. We were driving there from Bloomington, Indiana, and didn’t arrive as early as I hoped to. We had stopped for sliders at Crabill’s in Urbana, OH, on the way to Henry’s and got caught up in a long delay leaving Urbana due to some sort of annual parade they were having that stopped traffic on the road we were traveling for a while. By the time we got to Henry’s, their pie flavor selection had dwindled and did not include any of the flavors I had hoped to try (banana, sugar-cream, butterscotch). I settled for trying the chocolate cream pie and went for another slice of blackberry.
Unfortunately, Henry’s went out of business at some point before Covid hit. So I’ll never get to those untried flavors.
Among the greatest slices of cream pie I’ve ever eaten – and the best banana – was this piece of banana-cream at the Coffee Cup in tiny Sully, Iowa. I thank Cliff Strutz – aka Buffetbuster – for strongly urging me to go to the Coffee Cup.
While there is a roadfood mystique around pie with tall layers of meringue, I won’t pass up a great slice of whipped cream-topped pie, and perhaps none I’ve had was greater than this slice of chocolate at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, TX. The following photo is the pie case we went by as we waited to be seated at the Blue Bonnet.
I’ve already posted on the Summit Diner, and I would guess I’ve had more pie there than any other place. Perhaps the single most memorable slice of pie I’ve had there was this gorgeous piece of peace on our way out to the Midwest in 2019.
The Summit doesn’t lack for cream pie flavors. Here are banana and chocolate-peanutbutter-banana:
When I go to the Summit Diner, the first thing I do upon entering is scope out the pie board to see what my options are that day:
Here is both award-winning coconut and blueberry-custard pie at the Sommerset Hall Cafe, outside of Topeka, KS. The place really feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere when you pull up to it. There are one or two other businesses by it and just fields.
It’s a close call between this slice and the one I had at Henry’s as far as the best coconut pie I’ve tried.
Indiana is one of the top pie states in the country, and one of my favorite places to get it there is the great Gray Bros. Cafeteria, in Mooreville, which is a little ways southwest of Indianapolis. This place is massive, as is their pie selection.
This slice of butterscotch pie from Gray Bros. is also up there among the best pieces of cream pie I’ve eaten. It wasn’t overly-sweet, like I feared it would be. The flavor was more subtle and truly wonderful.
Their chocolate also can hold its own though.
This is but a small portion of the pie shelves at Gray Bros. It goes on for a while and they have a separate section for fruit pies.
One more stellar piece of banana cream pie is from Storie’s in Greensburg, IN, which unfortunately has closed.
The cover photo for this blog is of Town Topic, a well-known burger joint in Kansas City. Town Topic also sells a large array of pie flavors. This was blackberry from our 2017 visit.
And the final pie selection of this post will be of a slice of sugar-cream – the state pie of Indiana – from Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, IN, which is known both for this pie and their breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.
To close this one out, just a heads up that I may use many of these photos again in future posts about the trips during which I ate them.