Friday, July 25, 2008

Pot Pies at Bakesale Betty

This afternoon I returned from my business trip to Pasadena in Southern California. So of course I was too tired to think about making dinner. Instead, I walked down the street to the popular corner bakery, Bakesale Betty in the Temescal neighborhood in Oakland.

I've mentioned in the past how I enjoy this bakery's humongous scones. But lately they've been more popular for their fried chicken sandwiches, which of course I haven't tried because I don't eat fried foods. They're also known for their seasonal strawberry shortcakes ($4.50), which you can still get right now.

Despite the temptation, I didn't get a strawberry shortcake for dinner. Instead, I decided to try Bakesale Betty's new chicken pot pies. They sell a large regular-sized pie for $25, but being the Single Guy, I opted for the individual-sized portion sold for $6.

The pies are sold uncooked, and you have to take them home and bake them to get fresh, piping hot pot pies for dinner (or lunch, I guess).

Here's my little chicken pot pie after I brought it back home. I know I said I didn't want to cook dinner, but how easy is it to just preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then stick this pie in the oven? The pot pie actually came wrapped in plastic wrap, which I removed. The instructions said to bake it for 40 minutes (55 minutes if you ended up freezing it) on a cookie sheet.

The pie, actually, looked kind of small when I bought it. So when I walked home, I stopped by Safeway to get some mixed spring greens to make a salad with homemade pear vinaigrette. (I am so tired of all the overly dressed salads that I had at the hotel and restaurant in Pasadena. What's up with drowning your salads, SoCal people?!)

Here's my chicken pot pie after 40 minutes. Now, before baking I contemplated brushing an egg wash (egg yolk or whites with water) on the crust and sprinkle some sea salt on top. But because Bakesale Betty didn't specifically recommend those instructions, I wanted to bake it exactly like how most consumers would probably do it. (I don't think most people would think to bother adding an egg wash and sea salt on top.) What happens is that the crust didn't really bake to a nice golden brown color, which I'm sure the egg wash would have totally helped achieve that. Instead, it looked a bit pale, and the extra salt sprinkled on top would have helped because ...

... when I ate the filling, it tasted slightly on the bland side. The filling definitely had big chunks of chicken, and you can tell it's fresh chicken meat. There weren't much other ingredients other than some carrots and probably celery. I was expecting some bright green peas, but I guess since Bakesale Betty uses only fresh ingredients, they probably didn't want to spend the time shucking fresh peas. (I would have used frozen, but I know most fresh food people don't like that.) If I had sprinkled the salt on the crust, it would have definitely help enhance the flavor of the filling. Instead it was OK, nothing amazing but not awful. Having the light salad help make this a proper dinner for me.

Would I make it a regular trip to buy the chicken pot pies? Probably not. If I'm in the area, and out of ideas for lunch or dinner, I make do it again (the next time definitely doing the egg wash and salt). But I wouldn't make a special trip just for them like what I do for their scones.

10 comments:

foodhoe said...

oh how disappointing! actually I love the concept of chicken pot pies and am generally disappointed... LOL that you found it not awful - I recently had something that was not terrible! you shoulda gone with your gut feelings about the egg wash and salt. Hmmm, I'm about to go on a weeklong biz trip to Scottsdale, AZ and am not looking forward to the hotel breakfast/lunches very much...

Passionate Eater said...

We will have to have a big potluck get-together (Foodhoe, Bunrabs, you, and all other people) in SF, and we will make the best chicken pot pies (or whatever pot pies you like) on the planet! I hope you are doing well, it looks like you are eating well, friend!

saudade said...

I'm sad to hear you thought the chicken pot pie was bland. The last time I ate one was when I bought a large one for my mom almost a year ago. We both thought it was really flavorful and quite rich, and the crust was flaky and buttery -- so much so I haven't bought one since because I'm watching my calories! Maybe they've changed the recipe? Or maybe it's the large vs. the small?

Chef Ben said...

Foodhoe, have fun in Scottsdale, I'm sure you'll dig up some interesting food find.

PE (or should I say Mrs. PE), can't wait to get together with you again and talk food!

Saudade, was your pot pie cooked?

saudade said...

Because you didn't write "pre-cooked" at first I thought you were making a joke. :)

No, it wasn't pre-cooked. It was also frozen.

Beatrice said...

Pear vinaigrette sounds tasty. How do you make it?

Chef Ben said...

Beatrice, I have an old bottle of pear vinegar that I got awhile back when I visited my sister in Portland, Oregon. So it was an unusual find. It was at a local gift shop but I can't remember the name. Anyway, I just used the pear vinegar and mixed it with a bit of sugar, dijon mustard, olive oil and pinch of salt.

Carolyn Jung said...

I love living in the South Bay, but here's another reason why I wished I made it to the East Bay more often: I keep hearing so many raves for Bakesale Betty's and I've yet to get myself over there. Friends have raved about those strawberry shortcakes, too. Single Guy, next time try one of those, and let me know how you like them. If you give them the thumbs up, then I know I need to high-tail it there for one. ;)

Chef Ben said...

I've had the strawberry shortcake before. I just so happened didn't get it this time around. I had two experience: First was this incredible box of freshness with the strawberries, the lightness of the cream, and the baked good part, which is just as good as the scones. Then the second time it was a bit off. Like the baked part of it wasn't as good. But it's generally great because of the freshness of everything. Bakesale Betty is a place to check out. Luckily it's in a neighborhood that has tons of other things to check out along the way! :)

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what you were disappointed with. I am a Southern girl and love a good chicken pot pie. Just visited Bakesale Betty's for the first time while visiting family for the holidays. My brother-in-law took us to get lunch there and I knew right away, we'd have to take a Pot Pie for Christmas. It was one of the best I've ever tasted. The bechamel had a sweetness that I am guessing comes from white wine. It was luscious but there was just enough to hold together the tender chicken and fresh vegetables without being oozy and gross. The crust was flaky and wonderful-top and bottom. Perhaps you should have left yours in the over just a few minutes longer. Mine was a gorgeous color. It was so wonderful we had the leftovers for breakfast the next day before heading to the airport and I only happened upon your review because I have been scouring the internet to see if she shared the recipe. Not sure what you think chicken pot pie should be but Betty's is sheer perfection.