Remember the fried pies McDonald's used to serve back in the '70s? The tasty treats were a personal favorite of mine, even more tantalizing than Happy Meals. I always tried to talk the adults I was with into purchasing one for me. There was something about the texture, the flavor, the sheer warmth and scent of a hot pie that made me happy.
Of course, times changed. Restaurants started going healthy. "Fried" became a dirty word. The delectable temptation under the Golden Arches disappeared and I stopped frequenting the franchise.
Over the years, I've tried all sorts of pies -- meringue, cream, nut, fried, baked.
I've had all sorts of pie configurations -- round, square, wedges, some served cold and some served hot.
I've had Mile High Pie from Ed & Kay's, Ms. Lena's Fried Pies, the momentous Strawberry Pie from Strawn's in Shreveport and Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker House in Boston.
But I never found that first love of pie again.
That is, until earlier this month, when on a Saturday evening I happened to find an old friend in an unexpected place, a barbeque joint here in Little Rock. My joy in finding this blessing on a plate was only equalled by the more than reasonable price for the bubbling hot wonder.
I am a sucker for pies in any shape or form, and after dining on brisket and twice-baked stuffed potato I craved another sweet offering from the dessert menu. And for $1.25, how could I go wrong with a hot peach pie?
The place -- Cross Eyed Pig BBQ off Highway 10 in West Little Rock, behind NYPD Pizza. I was told it would take a few minutes to prepare the pie, so I sat down and joined in conversation with my traveling companion.
Within minutes, the pie had arrived -- a crispy, golden pocket of goodness served up with a pile of whipped cream on the side. It was very hot and the aroma drew memories out of hiding in my mind.
Somehow or another, Cross Eyed Pig has managed to recreate a childhood favorite right down to the crispy bubbles on the surface. The hot pies are perfectly augmented with the cool cream and a real bargain for someone who wants to make a trip down memory lane.
Of course, that's not all the Cross Eyed Pig has to offer. Unlike a lot of other restaurants out there, Cee-Pig prides itself on its meat, good and hearty portions that bear witness to great smoke. In fact, I can't brag enough about that smoke ring -- the hallmark of a great piece of meat. Brisket at Cross Eyed Pig is served up in chunky slabs that show off the meat's grain. A good dinner ($7.95) comes with a couple of sides -- and if you miss out on the potato salad with its heavy dose of sour cream, you're making a huge mistake.
One very welcome addition to the menu is the Twice Baked Potato ($5.75 with choice of meat). While I've encountered barbeque stuffed potatoes elsewhere, finding them in Little Rock has been more than challenging. Not only does the Cross Eyed Pig carry the specialty, it does it better than I've had elsewhere. By cooking the potatoes, scooping them out, refilling them and baking them again, they're rendered into soft and savory comfort food. Don't want meat in your potato? You can also have the potato as a side item ($3.50).
You'll find the West Little Rock Cross Eyed Pig at 6015 Chenonceau Boulevard -- out behind NYPD Pizza, or call (501) 227-RIBS. Or catch the original location at 1701 Rebsamen Park Road for lunch Monday-Friday (you can call (501) 265-0000 to order there). If you do stop in at that location, be sure to say hello to Anthony. One way or another, you'll find menus at CrossEyedPig.com.