(Photo Courtesy: Bang Bang Pies and Biscuits)
Louisa Chu has been around the world and eaten almost everything. It comes with the territory for the chef born in Hong Kong, trained at Le Cordon Bleu and tutored by French mega chef Alain Ducasse. She’s been a judge on “Iron Chef America” and a fixer on “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.” But when she comes home to Chicago after a long stint of globetrotting, what she really wants is a good biscuit and a slice of pie.
I’ll Have the Biscuits and Chocolate Pie
I have to get the biscuits — they have daily changing seasonal butters and jams — plus a slice of pie. I try to not always order the chocolate pie, even though I love the chocolate, but I always order chocolate and/or something that they are testing. Sometimes they’ll only have ice cream pie for the day, so I’ll have to get that.
Thoughtful, Comforting Food That Doesn’t Break the Bank
It’s the perfect re-entry meal in that it’s comforting and very affordable. While I think it’s wonderful to be able to spend $500 a person for dinner, it’s also extremely satisfying to have a meal that is $10 and under with tax and tip. (And, always tip at the counter.) It’s made with the same kind of ingredients that you’ll find at the best farmers’ markets here in Chicago with the same kind of care that you will find at some of the best restaurants because some of the chefs that worked at say an Alinea are now chefs at Bang Bang. So, you have people who have that skill and you are getting it in a $2 or $3 biscuit. They put so much care even into the butter and jam that goes onto the biscuit. They can their own fruits when they are in season so that we can have cherries in the wintertime. They’ll make something savory — one of the regulars has been a black pepper maple butter — things that you would not necessarily think of making yourself at home.
Where to Stuff Your Pie Hole
Logan Square. It’s one of the best food neighborhoods in the world right now and I’ve had a chance to eat and work in some of the best restaurants in the world. It’s pretty rare that you get such selection of ingredients; care in cooking, all in really comfortable neighborhood settings. Plus, Bang Bang has the pie garden, which isn’t exactly where they grow the pie, but it’s so nice and, again, comforting and comfortable. You get to sit with a cross-section of people, everybody from families to tourists. I know some people that go and get breakfast there every single day.
Don’t Try This at Home
There’s no way that you could make one biscuit and one slice of pie, and I don’t have the self-control to not eat a whole tray or whole tin. We’re talking a $5 slice of pie and we’re talking huge wedges. It’s the kind of place where you get to go eat good food and not feel hungry after.
Robin Bennefield, managing editor of Marriott TRAVELER, travels for food. Some of her favorite food experiences include tasting taro-leaf-wrapped lau lau in Honolulu and digging into a messy torta ahogada in Mexico City while wearing a plastic glove.