This past weekend may have been rainy and overcast, but a beacon of sunshine poured down upon the Bishop Arts District, resting on a quaint little renovated house painted brightly with hues of violet and blue. Within these walls rested Dallas’ first “pop-up” pie shop, brought to us by the wonderful women at Emporium Pies, partners and co-owners, Mary Gauntt and Megan Wilkes. Wanting to test the waters a bit and see what kind of response the Dallas diners would have to a dedicated pie shop, they moved into the space at 314 N. Bishop Ave. over the weekend to provide this city with some of the finest pies it will ever see.
Walking inside, the space is small but cozy, with no more than a few chairs, a sales counter, a couple tiny tables with three stands displaying the day’s pie options. On one rests a French silk chocolate pie with a crunchy pretzel crust, another holds a bourbon pecan pie with shortbread crust, the last displaying a streusel topped banana pie. I ordered a slice of each, which were then all neatly packaged in small wicker baskets with a wooden fork and tied up with string (these are a few of my favorite things). The entire presentation is so insanely cute, it makes fluffy baby bunnies look like swamp trolls. I took a seat on the porch and dug in.
Jump for a whole lotta pie porn…
Most importantly, the pies are incredibly delicious. I don’t profess to be a pie connoisseur by any means, but I have sat through a few holidays in my time and I’ve been known to demolish a good number of pies. Pecan pie is a particular favorite of mine, and Emporium’s version, “The Drunken Nut,” is (and I am not exaggerating) the best I’ve ever eaten. Mary states that she “wanted to create a pie that was not too sweet, or too runny…or made you feel like you just ingested half a cup of corn syrup.” (In fact, their version is not made with corn syrup at all.) But it is brilliantly done, sweet with tones of brown sugar and butter, chewy and nutty, the shortbread crust could be savored alone without need of any additional filling.
The French silk pie, “The Smooth Operator,” was inspired by the flavors of a chocolate covered pretzel. It’s smooth and creamy without feeling enormously heavy and rich, nor is it overpoweringly chocolately. Its sweetness is perfectly complimented by the slightly salty crumble of the pretzel crust. Again, a work of art. Lastly, the “Bro’Nana” is made with a cinnamon banana filling topped with a walnut-oat streusel all resting in beautiful shortbread crust. As a long time fan of the banana, it was love at first bite.
Mary states she has dreamt of owning her own bakery ever since she finished high school, and now with the help of her business partner, Megan, it looks like this dream is beginning to take shape. Hallelujah! Dallas needs more artisanal bake shops like this from people determined to offer the highest quality product possible. Their aim is take traditional recipes and add their own twist, with a focus on flavor rather than just sugar. Every ounce of their pies is handmade – the crusts rolled by hand, the fruits all peeled by hand – and they are produced without preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and corn syrups.
As for future plans, they state that things have “slowly been taking form.” They’ve been doing a lot of business out of a commissary kitchen and are working towards a permanent store front. While Bishop Arts is definitely a possibility, nothing is finalized yet. They plan to keep their menu dynamic and seasonal, with savory pies also a potential for the future. Frankly, I can’t wait to see these girls succeed. While the age-old adage “easy as pie” may still be applicable to some instances in life, “easy as an Emporium pie” is certainly not going to be a catchphrase floating around Twitter any time soon. Pies of this caliber require time, a dedication to the art of baking, and a passion for their product that still remains a rare thing in this city. So jump on your Twitter (@EmporiumPies) and keep an eye out for developments from these wonderful “purveyors of fine pie.”