In search of a slice of heaven

This review begins at the end, on a Wednesday morning, when I show up at work with a couple of slices of Dangerously Delicious savory pies to share with my co-workers. Everyone loves them. The crusts are superb, the fillings delicious. One of them is steak and chili pie, the other is a version of the classic pot pie, and there's not anything we'd want to change about either of them. Rodney Henry's pies are always good. I am popular.

I had bought these pies the night before at the Dangerously Delicious pie shop in Federal Hill, by the Cross Street Market. This shop has been there for a few years, and it works just fine as a combination coffee house and pie shop - stop in, have a slice, go on your way. It's like, "Oh, what a cool pie shop this is." And it is a cool little pie shop.

I had gone down to the Federal Hill shop because the second location in Hampden, which I went to review, didn't have much of a selection by the slice - just two kinds of bacon quiche. The location in Hampden goes by the name of Dangerously Delicious Savory House, a name that raises expectations. It suggests that you can go there and get a meal, and that there will be something to eat besides savory pies, and sweet pies for dessert. But there isn't. No soups, no salads, no sides, and only coffee and tap water to drink.

It's confusing, because it looks like the Savory House was intended to be something more. This used to be Finnertea's tea room, and there has been substantial and effective renovation to the space, which occupies the first story of a glass porchfront rowhome just off The Avenue.

And probably it was never intended as a full-service joint, but instead a place where you and a friend would order a slice of quiche, a little salad, some fresh soup, and a bottle of fancy root beer from a counter and then go hang out in a hip and cozy dining room. Then something happened, who knows what - a bad economy, cold feet, a change of heart? And that's OK; anyone would understand that.

But then, why not tell everybody? Why not just declare that you're not a savory house but a pie shop, and then people would come in and say, "Oh, what a cool little pie shop this is."

Even then, the Hampden location would be a frustration. Even allowing for that weird week between Christmas and New Year's, when no one seems to get anything done, the Savory House had skimpy by-the-slice selections during several visits (or was unexpectedly closed). The nice young man who works there was always apologetic, but there should be a way to secure a variety of savory slices for people not buying a whole pie. I would have liked to have tried the versions filled with pork barbecue or steak, mushroom, onion and fontinella. I wonder what the Savory House sausage rolls are.

As it was, I resented paying $7.50 for a slice of very decent quiche, which I ate off a paper plate with a plastic fork. I even resented having to pay for a cup of coffee. (The Federal Hill location has those fancy root beers and other bottled drinks.) I loved the Key lime pie and chocolate-coconut cake I took home with me but ended up resenting paying $6 apiece for them.

Rodney Henry has a good product and a good story, the rockabilly-musician-turned-full-time-pie-maker. Show up with a Dangerously Delicious black box at any house in Baltimore, and you're a hero. The Savory House is a forgivable folly, but I'd hate to see it languish much longer, not in its current condition.

dangerously delicious savory house
Where: 3547 Chestnut Ave.

Call: 410-662-7437

Open: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday

Credit cards: American Express, Visa, Mastercard

Food: ***

Service: **


Entrees: $7-$10.50

Dessert: $6-$7.50

on the menu
Chicken and mushroom pie - $7.50 a slice

Hotrod potato, cheese and onion pie - $10.50

Steak and chili pie with red and blue corn crust - $7.50

Pork BBQ with savory house slaw - $10.50

Crab and cheddar quiche - $7.50

Bacon and vegetable quiche - $7

Chocolate and coconut pie - $6

Key lime pie - $6

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