The Early Word: Four & Twenty Blackbirds
By the time Four & Twenty Blackbirds opened in Gowanus last Friday, it had already been heralded addition to the burgeoning pie scene, a kindred spirit to places like Pies 'n' Thighs, the Blue Stove Bakery, Momofuku Milk Bar, and First Prize Pies. Whether or not pie -- the old-fashioned kind traditionally made by grandmas with little fear of Crisco or lard -- really is having a "moment" is subject to debate, but Four & Twenty's arrival certainly marks the first time (at least to the best of our knowledge) that Third Avenue has beckoned anyone with the promise of pie, espresso, and lovingly distressed wooden tables all under one roof.
The sun-filled cafe is open, airy, and inviting -- its wide-planked wooden tables are generous, and its tin walls, with their chipped and peeling paint, have a kind of barren beauty.
Unfortunately, the pie selection, as of yesterday, was also a bit barren: when we showed up shortly after noon, there were four pies and tarts available. We ordered a slice of rhubarb pie and a slice of chocolate-chili tart, and planned to grab a slice of salted caramel apple pie on the way out the door. Shortly after we sat down, a surge of customers arrived, and apparently ate every last slice in the place: when we inquired about the caramel apple, the nice lady behind the counter told us that they'd run out of pie -- all of the pies -- and didn't know when there would be more.
Which, well, come on -- if you open a shop selling pie, then you should probably make enough to feed all of the customers who will turn up on a sunny Sunday afternoon, rather than selling out in the space of an hour and a half. There was still quiche available, but chances are customers who came in for a slice of apple pie most likely wouldn't have had their craving satisfied by a crust filled with eggs, cheese, and vegetable matter. And while the woman behind the counter was perfectly friendly and apologetic, it left us harboring some uncharitable thoughts about the twee whimsy that often seems to subsume business sense in the Brooklyn artisanal universe.
But with any luck, Emily and Melissa Elsen, the two sisters who own Four & Twenty, will resolve their supply and demand issues sooner than later -- to be fair, it's early days yet.
In the meantime, how was the pie?