When temps start to drop in the capital city, I’m always quick to seek out comfort food to warm me up. It may be steaming bowl of pho, a hearty gumbo, or even some soul food.
But Baton Rouge diners now have a new choice when it comes to comfort food — pie. That's just what Elsie's Plate & Pie is serving: sweet and savory pies that almost always satisfy.
Elsie’s opened in September, and already, the restaurant is a welcome addition to Mid City’s burgeoning food scene with its menu of pies, sandwiches, soups and salads.
Shaking off the cold and heading inside, we were greeted by a hostess under an Edison-lighted marquee, beneath it a glass case full of the restaurant's handiwork — beautiful pies looking like museum pieces on display.
Elsie’s ambience strikes a balance between homey and trendy, with a warm Southern familiarity in a space that wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn, New York, or Portland, Oregon.
Lunch had us in the mood for savories, so we selected the crawfish hand pie ($16), the crab pie ($16) and the Louisiana poulet pot pie (Elsie's version of a chicken pot pie, $13).
The crawfish hand pie is a crawfish boil-inspired half-moon filled with crawfish tails, corn and sausage. Fried and streaked with a tangy remoulade sauce, it’s served along with a pile of crispy fried onions (on the side for $3). Crunchy on the outside and filled with delicious crab boil-scented stuffing, this was a hit, offering a little taste of springtime in the winter. It was accompanied by a salad of mixed greens tossed in the Arlington House sweet and tangy pepper jelly vinaigrette that made us clean our plates.
The crab pie is crustless and full of blue crab, pepper jack and havarti cheeses, finished with tomato. Here is where we encountered one of Elsie’s rare missteps. This pie showed up at the table a little watery and not quite warm enough. It was promptly replaced, and the next was piping hot, delivering on its promise. The combination of creamy, rich cheese and sweet crabmeat make this one another success.
The star of the show on this day, however, was the Louisiana poulet pot pie. Picturesque as a magazine cover, it arrives in its own little cast iron pan, topped with a perfectly browned puff pastry lid that looks almost too pretty to eat — almost.
Cracking through the crust reveals chunks of smoked chicken and roasted red peppers in a tasso cream sauce so velvety hot and satisfying, you’re likely to find yourself trying to get a little piece of crust with every bite to sop it all up.
We couldn’t visit Elsie’s without trying one of their sweet offerings, so we finished up with a piece of the coconut cream pie ($4). This pie achieves impressive high altitude with whipped cream, toasted almonds, shredded coconut and streaks of chocolate sauce. Each bite proved to be swoon-inducing, but keep a cup of coffee nearby — this is sweet and rich.
During another visit, we test drove some of Elsie’s brunch selections. This time we opted for the boudin pie, a hand pie stuffed with hot boudin streaked with honey and served with a poached egg and corn grits. It was joined by a massive fluffy biscuit and a scene-stealing strawberry and jalapeño pepper jelly.
Another solid choice was the chicken and biscuits with two spicy, thin-fried chicken cutlets served atop those massive biscuits and topped with poached eggs and sweet Satsuma hollandaise. Sublime, but page your cardiologist beforehand. Either way, if you go, you will go happy.
On other visits, we dined on more hits: the appetizer of three-cheese pimento ($7), topped with a pineapple pepper jelly; the behemoth boudin burger ($10) with meat, boudin, pepper jack and gouda cheese and that wonderful Arlington House pepper jelly; and the s'mores pie ($4) that was so sweet it tickled our teeth.
If you're looking for another sweet dish, you can't go wrong with the blackberry pie nachos ($5), a pile of funnel cake-style pastries topped with sugar and drizzled with blackberry sauce.
After many visits (trust us, there have been many), it's clear that Elsie’s Plate & Pie is another jewel in the ever-emerging Mid City dining scene, offering many satisfying options of comfort food in the heart of the capital city.
Elsie's Plate & Pie
3145 Government St., Baton Rouge
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
INFO: elsiespies.com or (225) 636-5157
PROS: Location; nice hangout feel and vibe; most of the food is a hit, especially the pies.
CONS: Consistency; some dishes can be a little too rich.