The Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, published in 1959 and given to me by my late maternal grandmother, says of pastry and pies, “There is every reason why modern pies should be even better than those (of tender memory) which Grandma used to make. If there is any Great American Dessert, it’s probably pie.” Pie never really goes out of fashion–in fact, our beloved American Pie is a descendant of the “pye” cooked and enjoyed hundreds of years ago in the west.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop in Olowalu has made this crusty confection of wheat and fat as their signature offering, and whether they use old or new recipes I can’t tell, but either way they romance your mouth with flaky, crisp pastry that’s engulfed by sweet, baked fruit or floaty cream filling or savory rich meat and gravies. The flavors on the menu at Leoda’s may remind us of our grandmothers’ era, and the decor offers a sweet combination of old warmth and charm with modern touches, but the presentation and interpretation is all fresh.
Many will probably be surprised at the three-inch single serving pie or the five-inch regular pie. It’s really quite brilliant: who among us can’t eat an entire three-inch diameter pie? That way you can avoid messy uneaten slices that flop over and ruin the beauty of the moon shaped disc of goodness. If you are a purist and need a larger size it’s yours–you just have to order ahead of time.
Leoda’s location, smack dab in the middle of the pali, could be a death sentence or stroke of genius. It’s an oasis of good food, a bakery worth popping in for, or just a place to grab lunch or dinner along your way in and out of the Westside.
The food is also something unique. Leoda’s casual, hand-held pies can be a coffee paired baked treat of fruit or a one-handed snack stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, zesty corn or tender pork. There are also burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, all served on fresh baked breads. The more adventurous will try the fried mac and cheese, Reuben lumpia and scalloped potatoes.
But it’s the pies that get all the attention. They sit in the glass case when you come in the door; it’s difficult to escape without taking one to go. The fresh baked loaves of bread are less ostentatious, but just as important. Fickle yeasts have foiled my own attempts at creating fluffy clouds of bread so I hold these in high regard. Leoda’s artisan bread loaves can take me back to even more rustic days of food but their undeniable perfection of crumb and flavor only leaves me craving carbs on a whole new level.
They serve all of their sandwiches on this bread. Meats, cheeses and vegetables can be found in all kinds of combinations on the fresh butter white, hapa wheat, rye and seasonal whole grain. The Ham’n stood out with an intense merging of sweet apricot tomato jam with premium savory cured swine, Jarlsberg, local basil pesto and garlic aioli. I was also pleasantly satiated by my cheese steak take home leftovers in the fridge after a spell in my toaster oven.
It’s easy to fall in love with Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie shop’s pies, breads and sandwiches, but here’s a secret: try the Fried Salad.
Now chef Sheldon Simeon has a way with Brussels sprouts. His Brussels a la Star Noodle served with bacon and kim chee paste created a makeover for the wall flower veggie. But the fried salad at Leoda’s dominates that dish with delicate fried Brussels sprouts leaves, celery and radish, a tad of local mint and a burnt orange dressing. While I ate the diaphanous browned green curls I wondered who got the job of peeling the sprouts apart to fry their tiny leaves.
I salute you, whoever you are. You have toiled to bring me this surreal salad, a modern wonder among blasts from the past.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
20 Olowalu Village Road