When craving for pie, those who know go to “Aphrodite’s Cafe”. A local pie shop and cafe that does everything organic and fresh. This is not surprising as you walking in and have the smell-good scent of fresh baked bread waft around you.
The restaurant is two shoppes merged into one. With the entrance to the “pies” blocked off by a potted planet outside and a set table inside. We made this mistake and had to double back. Walking in on a Friday late afternoon we had the pick of the place, but the table immediately in the doorway blocked our path, and prevented us from seating ourselves. On it was a photo of a farmer holding a bundle of very organic looking carrots, irregular and bright in colour. He seemed important, as we noticed he was also made into a piñata. You couldn’t miss seeing him and all the other piñata people suspended in the air. After their pies, I would say “Aphrodite’s” is known for their piñata heavy decor decision. They were the creepiest looking paper mâché piñatas, with large heads and skinny bodies. Yet you couldn’t help but want one. And you could for $200, as the artist apparently works out of her studio, right across the street from where we were. She can even make one customized to your exact specifications. Today Henrik Seden from the Canucks, a kangol cap wearing volleyball player, a purple tailed mermaid, and a lady pirate wielding a sword; all along side the friendly farmer hung above us.
The floor was checkered in peach and blue tiles, it matched as much as the miss matched reclaimed tables and refinished chairs did. All three elements gave the place character. On the walls hung the artwork of local artists. These were for sale and are updated regularly. This season there were barren trees and poppy fields, it felt like a very rustic autumn. We took a table top for two, right in front of the chalk board menu. This is my favourite seat. The chalkboard was jammed packed with pie and drink names, all written in neat print to accommodate each one. In the centre was a rainbow leading to a cup of chai latte, and the words, “get cozy, no rain, no rainbows”. What a fitting quote to represent Vancouver and “Aphrodite’s” place in the city. You come in to get out of the rain that is necessary for life, and enjoy a hot beverage along side a comforting meal.
Their menu boasted a wide selection: alcoholic drinks, teas, lunch items, brunch plates, vegan friendly dishes, and ones that were gluten free. We were very impressed to see this breath from a smaller restaurant; majority of which are on seasonal rotation too. Though one thing that didn’t change, and one thing you could count on was their selection of core pies. These would always be available, from summer to winter and spring to fall.
All the sweet pies were pre-baked and came to our table quick. The meat pies had to be reheated and baked until hot, so they took longer. Knowing we were here for pie we decided to get one from each category: Organic fruit pies, Specialty pies, Cream pies, and Meat pies. We skipped the “delights” section of the pie menu as they were technically cakes, and when craving pie that is a huge difference not to be over looked. Each dessert pie came decorated with hearts made out of cocoa powder. A simple gesture that made each plate all the more special.
Organic fruit pie: Cherry pie. Unanimously we agreed this was the favourite of our four pie order. It was not overly sweet. The cherries were soft and added a great texture, when you bit into them and they burst with juice. All this was was made better with the addition of two scoops of vanilla ice cream, that we had asked for and paid additional to have. And when the ice cream melted it was used as a sauce to dip pieces of crust into.
Specialty pies: Lemon meringue. Each pie was chilled, and as a result the lemon in this lemon meringue pie kept separating from the meringue. This pie would have been better had it been allowed to remain in room temperature. None the less it still tasted good. The lemon half was zesty with a little sweetness. The meringue was whipped fluffy and piled high just the way I like it. And the crust was buttery rich and broke off in crumbs.
Cream pie: chocolate banana. Originally we had ordered the vanilla bean banana cream pie, but were brought this instead. When corrected, the server brought it back to the counter, only to tell us they were out of the vanilla version. So we had the chocolate brought back. We both agreed this was our least favourite pie as we found the chocolate overwhelmed the lightness of the banana. Though the chocolate dipped banana sitting atop of the fluffy whipped cream was a nice touch. It added a different flavour than the caramelized banana sliced that sat as a the bottom. This was not something either of us would usually order, as we are not big fans of chocolate mousse.
Turkey pot pie. Made from free range turkey, seasonal vegetables and herbs in their famous pie crust. You were able to distinctively make out the flavour of the turkey. Together with the vegetables it tasted like stuffing, and reminded you of thanksgiving. All you needed was a dollop of cranberry sauce to complete this. However we were given a mixed green salad, that neither of us touched instead. It was great to start our meal with sweet desserts and end with a savoury note instead.
To drink, my guest ordered a pot of their speciality tea from Namasthe teas. The “Jasmine green dragon” was – smooth drinking tea. It came without the acidity commonly found in most green tea blends. It was flavourful enough to enjoy its natural taste, while being bland enough to compliment each sweet bite.
I however made the mistake of ordering their homemade hot chocolate. This beverage was made from dark Callebaut chocolate and milk, topped with Chantilly cream. On its own it was delicious and frothy, with an authentic chocolaty taste. But when paired with desserts it became too rich and ended up being tasteless by comparison.
Our server was quite and polite. With very little interaction outside of us ordering and her delivering, I have nothing much to report.
I have eaten at “Aphrodite’s Cafe” on several occasions, during different times of the day, and in different seasons. Here is a listing of the other menu items they offered, that I have had in the past.
Brunch: Spinach omelette with potato hash, mixed greens, and whole wheat toast.
Brunch: buffalo sausage with farm fresh eggs, potato hash, mixed green, and whole wheat toast.
Brunch: elk sausage with farm fresh eggs, extra potato harsh, and while wheat toast.
Brunch: Blueberry pie with fresh whipped cream.
Dinner: spiced chai tea. Rich and spicy.
Set meal dinner: Organic lentil soup with focaccia bread, and house salad. The soup was very disappointing in texture. Not quite chunky and not quite smooth it felt like sand in my mouth.
Set dinner: salmon with potato pancake in a bed of seasonal vegetables.
Set dinner: Organic steak with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. I was surprised at how great this tasted, though it was not quite worth the inflated price I paid for it.
Dinner: chocolate almond ganache with coconut ice cream. Drizzled with raspberry sauce.
Dinner: vanilla praline cheesecake with vanilla ice cream.
Would I come back? – Yes. It is a little ways a way for me to get to, but with metered and free street side parking blocks away, the trip by car is hassle free. I also love pies, and like the fact there is such a large selection of them, that can be ordered by the slice. Usually if you want a slice of pie you have to commit to the whole pie, and still then you don’t get the same wide assortment to choose from that they offer you here.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
With over 20 pie options you will never be bored. And for those who are vegan and those with gluten free restrictions they have pies that meet your needs too. There regular menu is also pretty good. Hearty plates made with organic produce and fresh meats. I have yet to order something I didn’t want to finish. Don’t deny your cravings.