FOOD FIGHT: THE BEST SLICE OF HOLIDAY PIE

At steakhouse, pie, oh, my

Oracle eatery beats bakeries, coffee shops in sweet smackdown
2010-12-23T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T11:36:43Z At steakhouse, pie, oh, myKristen Cook Kcook@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
December 23, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Pie might not be the flashiest of desserts, but it's one of the best.

The ultimate comfort food, one forkful of cinnamon-kissed apple pie conjures up images of grandma and Fourth of July fireworks. Pie's versatile, too - fill that flaky, buttery crust with fruit or a creamy, dreamy middle.

And if you really want to taste pie at its best, take a drive up to Oracle.

In our recent pie Food Fight, readers mentioned the usual suspects like Marie Callender's and Coco's and even the very untraditional like Bentley's chocolate tofu pie. But the comment that caught our eye - and stomach - was about Oracle Inn Steakhouse & Lounge.

"The best pies in the universe can be found at the Oracle Inn Steakhouse & Lounge," wrote Bo S. "I swear you haven't lived life if you haven't tried one of the chef's amazing pies. ... Everything from a festive eggnog pie to a delicious and decadent chocolate mousse. Also one of my personal favorites (is) the Snickers bar pie à la mode. It tastes exactly like a Snickers bar. Oh I can't forget the best for last - his pumpkin and apple pies. They just blow my mind."

The Oracle Inn was closed for about nine years before Kari and Adrian Darimont whipped the steakhouse into shape in 2008.

The eatery is a traditional steakhouse with hearty slabs of beef and homemade soups, like the Reuben, which Executive Chef Steve Shimmin swears tastes just like the sandwich. The Darimonts also serve German food the second weekend of every month, a wildly popular special.

And then there's that pie.

The selection ranges from straight-up fruit like cherry or apple to exotic creations like peanut butter/walnut cream, depending on Shimmin's mood.

"There's nothing this man can't do," Kari Darimont says.

He uses all butter in the rich crusts and - as a chocolaholic - tries to sneak in chocolate whenever possible. His chocolate cream pie is made with both bittersweet and milk chocolate. Kari Darimont, herself a chocolate lover, says she orders chocolate pie wherever she goes and no one has ever whipped up something to equal the dark, dense delight of Shimmin's creation.

The restaurant sells slices for $4.99 each, but people can order whole pies, too. Prices range from $8.99 for more basic pies, like pumpkin, to $14.99. The Oracle Inn is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The restaurant will accept pie orders today for Sunday. Shimmin - who baked up dozens of whole pies for Thanksgiving special orders - asks for at least a day's notice.

And what is it exactly that sets Shimmin's pies apart?

The man himself says he can only guess.

"I love desserts," he says. "We use butter and real cream, so they're probably real rich."

The contenders

•Bentley's House of Coffee & Tea, 1730 E. Speedway, 795-0338; www.bentleys coffeehouse.com

•Bread & Butter Cafe, 4231 E. 22nd St., 327-0004

•Coco's Bakery Restaurant, 7250 N. Oracle Road, 742-2840; 6095 E. Broadway, 745-6108; www.cocosbakery.com

•Gus Balon's, 6027 E. 22nd St., 747-7788

•Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery, 245 S. Wilmot Road, 747-1100; www.mariecallenders.com

• Oracle Inn Steakhouse & Lounge, 305 E. American Ave. Oracle, 1-520-896-3333; www.oracleinn.com

•Village Inn, several locations including 4245 E. Speedway, 881-3550; www.villageinn restaurants.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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