House of Pies - January 9, 2003
It's midnight on a January Thursday night and Addie and I are en-route to House of Pies. You feel like an L.A. native when you drive down Franklin Avenue at any time of day while Joe-everyone else tries to maneuver the stoplights on Hollywood or Sunset or, God forbid, Santa Monica. We're coming from the Galaxy Six Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, just above the Knitting Factory. We got $2.50 back from the parking attendant with our movie theater validation and we feel rich. We've just seen the movie Secretary about the sadomasochistic relationship between a lawyer and his office girl, and after all the on-screen spanking, naturally, we want pie.
There is only one House of Pies. An internet search will reveal plenty of other establishments called House of Pies. Some of them are in Houston. I could go on. However, there is only ONE House of Pies. This is it. Franklin and Vermont. I just called them on the phone and asked "Are you the only House of Pies, or are there others." The House of Pies woman answered "No, we're the only one." I knew this before I called; I just wanted you to feel good about it too.
We're in the heart if the Los Feliz village, half a spittoon away from other mainstays such as Fred 62, Palermo's, Skylight Books, and the Los Feliz Theater. People drool out of these other venues into House of Pies like flies who've forgotten where they live. I've been here a handful of times and this Thursday night is the sparsest I've seen the place. It is after midnight on a Thursday night but my Hollywood sensibility tells me this is unusual. People must be home sick, or on their way here, or driving around Glendale out of their minds.
The sign at the entrance says Please Seat Yourself. So, I head towards a booth in the back and halfway through the restaurant I realize Addie is still in the front, staring into the pie-case, making mental notes about her future. I can't blame her... it's her first time here... this is the House of Pies, and, for the love of meringue, there they are.
Soon she joins me in the booth. We sit on the same side. It's one of the things we do. I've already been in and out of the bathroom. You have to open two doors to get to the business area. The first bathroom door takes you into a sort of antechamber with a sink and another door which leads on to the urinals of your destiny. This small chamber and these two doors...it's the kind of thing which could confuse the incoherent. I heard once of a man who was trapped by the sink for three days while other patrons followed steadily in and out of the surrounding doors. Finally one of the cooks on a break discovered him howling underneath the hot-water pipe, tied a string of raviolis around his wrists, and yanked him back into the light of the main dining room.
We start with fries and a decaf coffee. Neither of us drink coffee that much but we can't get beyond the guilt we'd feel if we didn't order it here. The fries were cooked just a little too long; not burned, but still not that perfect balance between al-dente and charcoal that one needs out of a french fry. Still, they're fries so we have no problem
downing the lot. I remember the days when ketchup came in glass bottles and was only spelled one way. I'd spent years in other late night dives trying to list the 56 varieties. Never got much past mustard.
The pie decision was harder because we're the kind of people that sweat while looking over menus with more than three items. This place has four kinds of apple pie alone. Addie settles on French Apple because we had quiche for breakfast and she's still in the mood. I get the cherry because I used to watch Twin Peaks and because I feel that 2003 is the 1953 of the twenty-first century. Both a-la-mode. Of course. These are happy days.
The pies come and we eat them. The cherry pie has a tartness which makes the whole experience genuine. The French apple has little crumbles which would make the North Koreans cry. They are generous with the ice cream.
Perhaps too generous.
We have finished the pies. The decaf refill offers have come frequently. At 12:35 am we are through with this place. Addie picks up the tab and pays the tip in cash. $2.50 on a $14.00 bill. You do the math. We drive Franklin back to the Hollywood freeway. We are geniuses on Franklin Avenue; super L.A.-elite in our Honda. We are asleep in Sherman Oaks by 1:00 am. Not enough time to digest. We spend the weekend with this pie. We sleep on our sides.