I was supposed to meet Russ Salazar for lunch there a few weeks ago, but he thought I was going to arrive at noon and I thought he would be there at 1 p.m. He left about ten minutes before I arrived. Last week we synchronized our watches and both arrived at the same time.
Z-PIE has been around for a number of years, in fact, so long that it took me some time to find one of the early stories I wrote about them. The earliest one I found was in April of 2003 when they won the “Best of El Dorado” competition and they had been open for four and a half years then.
People still ask me, “What is a Z-Pie?”
Let me give you a little history on this unique dish.
“Single serving meat and vegetable pot pies are as common in Australia and New Zealand as are burgers are here,” the owners of Z-PIE told me a number of years ago.
People enjoy them on their trips there, but it wasn’t until the Coots families opened their original restaurant in 1988 that they were introduced to Placerville.
Originally there were only a couple of varieties of pies, but now many more, with those on the menu changing periodically.
There were about half a dozen on the menu the day Russ and I were there and we decided to order a couple and split them. Russ went for one of the standards, and the best seller, the Steak Cabernet pie, while I chose an interesting sounding Tomatillo Stew pie. Russ also ordered a small salad.
I thought about trying their bacon and potato soup, but decided to limit myself to the pie. I don’t know why. At lunch you can get a pie and soup or salad for only $10.
Russ’ nice looking mixed greens salad came first (we ended up splitting it) and then the pies arrived. They looked and smelled really good.
They used to have a tart bottom crust and a puff pastry top crust and, for a while were purchased elsewhere. Now they are again made on site (yes, you can watch) and both the top and bottom crusts are puff pastry.
If you are eating in, after baking they are removed from their pie pan and placed in a ceramic bowl that exactly fits them, which makes them easy to eat.
We split them (that was a bit difficult for two klutzes) and sampled both. The one I had tried before, the Steak Cabernet, had the same delicious aroma and taste I remembered. Russ commented, “You can smell that unique cabernet wine flavor,” and he is right.
I loved the Tomatillo Stew pie. It had a nice bite and a great flavor. Russ liked it, but thought it had a bit too much cumin in it. I could taste it, but I love that flavor. It is the interesting flavor found in all good chili.
We discovered both when we cut the pies to share and when we ate them that the crust appeared to be slightly tough. That would be expected in a pie designed to be taken home, as many people do. However, when a piece of the crust reached your mouth, it was heavenly. Russ commented that it just melted in your mouth.
We both really enjoyed the meal. It was a delicious nice break from the usual food we eat.
They have a number of pies, some seasonal, so here is a list of some of the pies they are serving right now: Steak Cabernet, Rosemary Lamb, Very Vegetable V, Tomatillo Stew, Chicken Mushroom and Southwest Chicken. They also have two dessert pies, The Berry and The Apple.
There are also several salads on the menu. Large salads include: Asian Shrimp Noodle, Thai Steak, Chicken Mango, California, Sesame Asian Pear and Spinach Garlic. Their smaller salads include: Organic House, Organic Spinach and Gorgonzola.
Oh yes, they also have soup by the cup or bowl. Ask your server about the soup of the day.
Z-PIE is so proud of their pies and salads that they list all of the ingredients on their menu. I really like that.
They also have some really great bottled soda, along with local beers and wine to enjoy with your meal.
Z-PIE is open daily from 11 until 9 (last seating at 8:30). For more information call (530) 621-2626. You can eat in or get pies to go, either heated or frozen for later use.
Oh, get a seat in the window by the street and count the cars that actually stop at the stop sign. I found the number was less than half. Therefore, be very careful when you cross the street.