The holidays are over, which means a change in season for West Little Rock’s Honey Pies. After months of frantically filling pie and dessert orders for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the Honey Pies team now turns its focus to keeping clientele coming in during the down months. Owner Sharon Woodson has tasked chef Anne Wood to develop a full lunch menu for Honey Pies that promises to turn the pie shop into a full service café. And with the new dining area and extra room in the kitchen, there’s little stopping that from happening.
A glance at the lunch menu shows that Wood isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Honey Pies is about simple food prepared well, and Wood’s menu plays right into that theme. Her chicken salad sandwich is made in house with roasted chicken, fresh apples, celery and herbs on a brioche bun. It is light and crisp, but in a size that won’t leave you hungry (you might take half of it home for dinner). For a heavier option, check out the French dip. It’s made with tender roast beef, au jus, horseradish and Swiss cheese for a traditional take on the classic. Again, it’s not about being flashy and inventive. Honey Pies wants to make the flavors you know with fresh ingredients and top-notch execution.
The café motif means you can expect to find soup and salads every day at lunch. There are three salad entrees always available, including a cobb salad with fresh avocado and a Caesar salad with parmesan crisps. All the dressings are made in house. The soup special will rotate daily; when I was in, Honey Pies was marking the new year with a black-eyed pea soup. And new this year at Honey Pies are the paninis. Woodson took some of the profits from the holiday pie season and invested in a high-end panini press, and it’s in use starting this week. The first panini on the menu is a turkey and red pepper pesto sandwich with spinach and provolone cheese. The pesto is excellent, and the sandwich was probably the best lunch item I tried. This particular panini will be available as a special for now; in the coming weeks, Wood and Woodson plan on unveiling a full lineup of paninis that will be on the permanent menu.
Of course, Honey Pies hasn’t forgotten its roots. While I was there, I tried the shop’s outstanding Oreo Cheesecake, which just hit every flavor perfectly. I also got my first bite of possum pie, which features a butter crust, cream cheese, pecans, chocolate cream and toasted meringue. These desserts, like all I’ve tried from Honey Pies, are stellar. They are available by the slice or as a whole pie to go. You should also check out the new crème brûlée and banana pudding (which made our best desserts list for last year).
Every dessert shop goes through a quiet period in the months following the holidays. However, businesses never want to have many days where customers stay away. The new lunch menu at Honey Pies should be a successful in keeping the shop going until the next major dessert event (wedding season, anyone?). Stop by, say hi to Sharon and Anne, and check out the new lunch menu. And don’t forget to get a slice of pie while you’re there.