Vi's for Pies
by Paula E. Kirman
<img src="images/feature_articles/vis-for-pies-r1.jpg" height="250" width="187" border=0 alt="Vi's For Pies Main Dining Room" align="left" hspace=5 vspace=0>Vi's for Pies is a popular neighbourhood eatery in the West End. Located near Glenora, the allure of the fresh-baked pastries, homemade soups, and entrees that define the term "comfort food" keep the place hopping throughout the day. In fact, my friend and I arrived around noon, and were faced with a twenty minute wait. Many people took advantage of the take-out service.
While trying to time your visit either right before, or right after the noon-hour rush is probably the smartest idea, it is certainly worth the wait. We got started with cups of coffee, which is strong and aromatic with great flavour - I never take my coffee black but this one was too good to dilute with cream or sugar. Surprisingly, for a place known for coffee and treats, there is no iced coffee drinks, although our waitress graciously iced me a cup with milk and sugar. Teas, canned soft drinks, and mineral water are other beverage choices.
The menu changes on a regular basis and is written on large chalkboards that rotate around the room. Prices range from $4.95 for a bowl of soup to $9.95 for the specialty entrees. You can get your meal started with an appetizer such as hummus or salmon pate, which are served with nine-grain crackers. We chose to get started with soup, served with a freshly-basked nine-grain bun. These buns are a signature of Vi's, served also with salads (for a small extra charge), a few meals, and also as sandwiches with hearty fillings of chicken salad (a house specialty), ham and swiss, or roast chicken.
<img src="images/feature_articles/vis-for-pies-r2.jpg" height="165" width="220" border=0 alt="Vi's For Pies" align="right" hspace=5 vspace=0>Crunchy, and just a bit sweet, the bun was a perfect compliment to my chicken chili soup. Contrary to its name, it wasn't chili at all, but rather large chunks of chicken in a tomato-based broth with chili-style seasonings, as well as tomato, corn, and chickpeas. My friend had carrot curry, which was pureed. It was a good contrast of flavours, as the initial sweetness of the carrots were followed by the mild curry flavour.
For his main course, my friend tried one of the specialties, the spicy beef lime stew. According to him, it lived up to its name. A subtle hint of lime flavour underscored the zesty beef and potato chunks. It came with a small side salad, as do most of the meals. I went with the chicken pot pie, a staple that has made Vi's famous. A mound of flaky dough surrounded a deep dish filled with chicken chunks, potatoes, peas, and carrots in a creamy sauce. A distinguishing feature is that the crust is on the top and bottom, making for a comforting, savoury experience.
Other choices included the spanikopita (spinach pie in a filo pastry), shepherd's pie, and vegetarian lasagna. Meal-sized salads like the Greek and spinach with strawberries are perfect for those interested in something lighter.
<img src="images/feature_articles/vis-for-pies-r3.jpg" height="250" width="187" border=0 alt="A cozy table for two at Vi's" align="left" hspace=5 vspace=0>And what would be an experience at Vi's without dessert? My friend indulged himself in an éclair with substantial, scone-like pastry and a heap of whipped cream in the middle, dotted with fresh strawberries and blueberries. I was too full to even entertain the idea of eating anything else at the time, even though the chocolate fudge cake was calling my name. Instead, I had a few squares boxed for takeout. My favourite was the chocolate pecan, full of chunks of both of the aforementioned ingredients. The lemon square was a bit too sour for my taste. An M&M brownie, topped with chocolate icing and full of the candy, is a perfect treat for kids (of all ages). Vi's also has a variety of cheesecakes, cookies, and, of course, pies. A piece of cake will run in the $5 range, while a square is $2.
With its homey atmosphere, Vi's invites visitors to sit and relax. Whether for a meal or just coffee and a treat, Vi's is definitely a west end hot spot.
<b>Vi's for Pies</b>
13408 Stony Plain Road
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