Battle of the Banana Cream Pies: Hill Country Chicken v. Pies-N-Thighs
When the menu of Hill Country Chicken was revealed last week, we began having feverish daydreams about its extensive pie selection. The restaurant promised an Americana all-stars line-up, which inspired visions of banana cream, apple cheddar, whiskey buttermilk, and their glucose-bearing ilk. The fried chicken and pie menu also put us in mind of Pies-N-Thighs, which, since reopening in March, has made South Williamsburg more or less synonymous with its eponymous offerings. So, obviously, a pie fight was in the cards.
First we went to Hill Country Chicken, where we ordered a selection of mini-pies from the glowing display case lodged beneath a long Formica counter. Here we should add that whatever else you may think of the restaurant, which has already inspired countless and vociferous informal reviews, it's got its seating right: Few things are more relaxing than eating pie in one of its window seats, absorbing in equal measure fat, sugar, and the passing specter of frazzled humanity.
Hill Country Chicken offers its pies whole, in slices, and in $3 cups. Its banana cream pie resembles a whipped-cream porcupine, betraying no hint of anything banana-like beneath its dairy quills. And it takes a couple of bites to find any fruit, either real or derived: The pie is about two-thirds whipped cream and one-third banana cream. That said, we liked that the whipped cream was unsweetened, and the single layer of banana slices that formed a buffer between the dairy and banana cream.
But the banana cream itself was fairly unremarkable, in part because it was overwhelmed by the whipped cream and in part because it just wasn't all that flavorful. The crust was actually our favorite part of the pie: It's just a plain old flaky pie crust, but we loved its crunchy texture and savory taste. It was almost salty, which might not sound particularly appetizing, but made a wonderful contrast to all of the sweetness it supported. All told, we would have been perfectly happy to just eat that crust.