Drive-By Pies well worth stopping by
IN THE KITCHEN When Fran Kolenik’s bakery in West Roxbury closed last fall, “Customers asked, with Thanksgiving coming up, what they were going to do about pies,” she said.
Kolenik began baking out of her house in Reading and delivering to customers; she prepared 250 pies at Thanksgiving and another 200 around Christmas. It wasn’t long before she incorporated scones, cookies, and other sweet treats.
“It reached the point where I had to either establish a home kitchen or find one elsewhere,” she said.
THE LOCALE A friend steered Kolenik to a Brookline storefront on Cypress Street south of Route 9 near the Jamaica Plain border; Drive-By Pies opened in late April. The neighborhood, Kolenik said, is happy to have a bakery and coffee shop, and previous baked-treat enthusiasts from West Roxbury still pay her visits.
The name Drive-By Pies implies a quick in-and-out — and, to be sure, the space is small and not especially configured for eating in, beyond a short stand-up bar. However, there is street parking for those looking to linger a bit over a beverage and baked goods.
ON THE MENU Pies, both sweet and savory, are the backbone of the menu. Kolenik uses her late mother’s award-winning pie-dough recipe, which includes shortening, butter, vinegar, and an egg. “It’s her recipe on an index card, which I’ve expanded,” Kolenik said. “She would be very happy to know I opened a pie place.”
Kolenik prepares 20 to 30 pies each day. “We always have dough on hand and are constantly prepping,” she said. If a customer’s desired pie isn’t available at a given moment, Kolenik gets right to work. “I bake pies all day, so I tell them to come back in an hour or two when I’m taking the pie out of the oven. It doesn’t get much fresher than that,” she said.
Fruit pies ($18 for a 9-inch pie) are seasonal, made with fresh-cut fruit, and may include at any given time apple, apple crumb, blueberry, peach, lemon, or strawberry-rhubarb. There’s also chocolate cream pie with a rich, velvety filling finished with dollops of whipped cream, as well as key lime, coconut cream, banana cream, and other decadent varieties ($20).
For those who might lack the appetite for a full pie, several are available in miniature form ($8) and by the slice ($6).
Pies, of course, also can be dinner fare. Kolenik prepares 9-inch chicken pot pies ($18) for diners to take home and bake themselves. They contain white-meat chicken, celery, onions, carrots, chicken broth, flour, and roux (but no peas — none of Kolenik’s kids liked them).
“Everyone says it’s wonderful and reminds them of their mothers’ chicken pot pies,” she said.
In a similar vein, there are egg cups ($3.95), essentially mini-quiches prepared in muffin tins. Meat pies such as shepherd’s pie are also likely as the weather cools down. “People are clamoring for savory pies,” she said.
Despite the name, Drive-By Pies peddles much more than pies. There are insanely tempting bars ($3.25) including lemon squares, blondies, and a heavenly seven-layer coconut-and-chocolate variety. Cookies ($2.25) feature classics like oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip as well as molasses and a zippy lemon cooler. Cupcakes, miniature cheesecakes, scones (all $2.95), and other baked goods rotate daily.
For diners seeking some sustenance alongside their sweets, Drive-By Pies serves café fare like salads and sandwiches ($6.95 to $8.95), including a fresh and filling chicken salad with white-meat chicken, mayonnaise, and dried cranberries served on white, wheat, or sourdough bread. It’s made all the better by a chips or cookie accompaniment — at a place like this, who isn’t going to choose the cookie?
Drive-By Pies, 248 Cypress St., Brookline. 617-879-6210, www.drive-bypies.com.