Bang Bang, Oh My!

¡BANG BANG! Pie Shop | 2051 N California Ave, Chicago  | 773.276.8888 | Closed Monday · Tuesday-Friday 7–7 · Saturday 9–5 · Sunday 9–4

The afternoon sun was streaming in through the large west-facing windows in the quiet, unassuming storefront that is Bang Bang Pie Shop. Some of the half dozen or so tables were occupied by folks doing what folks do in coffee shops as I worriedly unleashed my toddler into the calm environment, half-wishing that I were there to sit on my laptop and quietly enjoy coffee and pie alone myself.

Fortunately, despite a lack of high chairs, Bang Bang did expect some guests under a certain age and had some toys available near the newspapers. My son settled in with a pie playset while my friend and I ordered one of everything: a slice of chocococonut pie, a slice of plum pie, a slice of banana toffee walnut and two biscuits.

Our first stop en route to our table from the counter that separates the seating area from the kitchen was the butter bar. Lined up perpendicular to the self-serve coffee and condiment station, which truly does play second fiddle to the food at Bang Bang, so much so that I was convinced for a moment that there were no napkins for some hipster reason that I wasn’t cool enough to know about yet, was a vast selection of spreads and butters for the biscuits. Butters included cherry, peach, black pepper and blueberry lavender; there were more but that was all we could handle at the moment.

Now here’s the thing: I want to like biscuits but sadly, even biscuits in Memphis didn’t wow me. Maybe I wasn’t far enough south, maybe I just have some kind of imaginary biscuit standard that is impossible to fulfill, but when I read some of Bang Bang’s reviews that told me to take advantage of the biscuits, if I’m lucky enough to get there before they sell out, I was excited. Perhaps this was the biscuit I had been waiting for!

It wasn’t. The biscuits were good, but not enough to convert me. They tasted like what biscuits usually taste like but were nothing outstanding.

The pie, on the other hand, could bring me to my knees.

Handed to us on thick, farmhouse-style plates, which provide a quirky yet comfortable contrast in the exposed brick setting, were these three decently-sized pieces of pie that appeared to come out of central food casting. Not only was every slice photo-worthy, but each slice looked as though it came from a lushly-illustrated fairy tale picture book in which all bakers wear white pouffy chef hats — and more importantly, each slice tasted that way, too.

All three pies had thick crusts meldeding so perfectly with their respective fillings and toppings that there was no need to choose crust or filling first; crust and filling were in perfect harmony. The balance of flavors in each, from chocolate to fruit, was so perfect, never too sweet or too rich, that it makes you realize why Bang Bang only offers a limited selection of pies each week: when food is done so precisely, you don’t need many options.

I’m a chocolate lover who can enjoy a rich slice of chocolate cake and who has been known to say that a food is not dessert unless it has chocolate in it, but I would go back just for the plum pie. Not that I didn’t enjoy the chocococonut, which was rich, but not in an “I can only have two bites” type of way. In fact, the coconut added a dimension of texture and flavor to the chocolate that I had never before appreciated. The plum pie was just the right amount of tart, with the plums cut to small manageable pieces, enveloped in a big, fluffy pastry.

In short, go eat pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop. I’m thinking of going back as soon as I finish writing this review.