Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maa Pies and More, Ashland, Missouri

To all my readers in Central Missouri: Here is a small restaurant that I sincerely hope you’ll try. It’s a new place, and you might not have heard of it yet. In fact, it’s the kind of place that my Columbia friends might never hear of, because this is the kind of place that locals flock to and love, and keep “mum” about, in hopes that “outsiders” don’t discover it: Maa Pies and More, in Ashland, Missouri.

Since it’s in Ashland, it’s convenient for everyone traveling between Columbia and Jefferson City. Seriously—if I were still commuting, I would consider getting up early at least one day a week, so I could pull off the highway at Ashland and sit down for a bit over coffee and B&G, before heading to the office.

(Wait, you don’t know what B&G is? Repeat after me, in a reverent tone: bis-cuits–an’–gra-vy. If you’ve never had it, then you need to try some this winter! As my own mom would say, “This is food that sticks to your ribs!”)

Let me tell you what Maa Pies and More isn’t: It’s not a place that is going to serve you “prosciutto-wrapped-sun-dried-tomato-cornichon-with-crème-fraîche-ciabatta,” or “seared-ahi-tuna-and-celery-root-pureé-with-a-balsamic-reduction-and-brown-butter-caper-sauce.” No, no, no!

It is also not a place for you to go if you dislike people, or if you are feeling blue and wish to stay that way.

Here is what it is: A small local “mom-and-pop” café, proudly serving you breakfast, lunch, and desserts (pies!) with care and attention to how you want it. What kind of bread do you want for your sandwich? Do you prefer it grilled? Would you like ice cream on your slice of pie? It’s how mom would treat you if she was making you a lunch—am I right?

“Mom-and-pop” is a perfect adjective for this café, which is owner-operated and owner-staffed: William Linzie, a bighearted man who loves meeting people, will greet you when you come in the door, help you find a seat, and take your order. There’s a good chance he’ll introduce you to some of the other customers. His wife, Joycelynn, who loves cooking and is too modest about her talents, is the one making most of the food (yes, and the pies!). You will probably meet both of them when you’re there. Why, it’s almost like having lunch at a friend’s house.

And by the time you leave, you will most likely be calling them your friends.

I hear that the “locals” are warming up to the place—and here we’re talking about people of all stripes. The Linzies are proud to have such a diverse clientele. As we ate there recently, he was telling me how great it feels to see so many different people enjoying his restaurant.

That Maa Pies has won the approval of many of the local “oldtimers” seems particularly enlightening for those of us who enjoy good local cafés: Some of the older fellows, I imagine, can be tough customers; these men are capable of saying, quite bluntly, “Well, this doesn’t taste very good. Not enough black pepper.” I mean, they’ll say it to their own wives! So if a café doesn’t cut it for these tough customers, they won’t come back.

But they keep coming back to Maa Pies! It’s an excellent sign.

What’s on the Menu?

There’s an online menu here, but I’ll summarize briefly. First, they’ve got breakfast—they open at 8 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday—with the above-mentioned biscuits and gravy, breakfast plates (combinations of eggs, sausage, biscuits, bacon), and breakfast sandwiches. Also (and this is no surprise, since pies are a specialty), they have quiche, yummy, yummy quiche!

The cinnamon rolls (which I haven’t yet tried) look like a breakfast unto themselves; they’re huge and covered, not just “sprinkled,” with a whole bunch of chopped pecans. (Generous is the word: just like mom, right?)

Lunches are sandwiches, hot dogs, wraps, and sides, and Tuesday through Friday, there’s a daily special. The sandwiches are not fancy, high-falutin’ concoctions of trendy ingredients. So just relax and enjoy a gool ol’ turkey sandwich, or bologna, roast beef, BLT, or polish sausage. If you’re feeling opulent, you might choose the triple decker!

The daily special is a surprise—there’s no pattern to it—it’s whatever they felt like making that day. It could be lasagna or any other kind of “blue-platey” special.

If you’re having lunch there for the first time, I encourage you to try the pulled-pork sandwich, which is one of their specialties.

Honestly, their pulled-pork sandwiches count as a Public Service. I expect soon, all the other restaurants in Ashland will be sick and tired of telling people, “Oh, the pulled-pork sandwich place? That’s Maa Pies—just go west on Broadway and look for it on the right. The place with all the cars parked around it.”

Finally, the Pies

As soon as you get there, look in the front case to see what they’ve got, because they tend to sell out! If you are wanting to get a particular pie to-go, put your dibs on it before you dine!

The fruit pies are wonderful; when we were there, we had blackberry, and it was just sweet enough to be perfect! I admire cooks who get the sugar right in a fruit pie.

They heated it up for us and served it à la mode. Oh, boy! I love me some good, homemade pie!

Here’s something else: Joycelynn will make pies for you by request—cream pies, for instance, or whatever kind of pies you want. She just needs your order 48 hours in advance. I understand they do catering of pies for events. As in, lots and lots of pies.

The pie they’re most famous for is called “apple caramel crisp with pecans.” When we were there last, it was (understandably) sold out. As with the cinnamon rolls, they’re generous with the pecans, which give the caramel-drizzled crust a wonderful texture.

If there’s something wrong with you and you’re not interested in pies, there are Bundt cakes available, plus other pastries, such as Danishes, and the cinnamon rolls.

You might be wondering about the prices—some bakeries charge big bucks for their creations—all the pies here are twelve dollars. And everything else on the menu is under ten; most is under five.

One More Thing

Remember what I said: “This is not a place for you to go if you dislike people, or if you are feeling blue and wish to stay that way.” Why do I say this? Because William and Joycelynn really want you to have a nice time at their restaurant, and they want you to feel at home. They will chat with you. William, in particular, likes getting to know his customers, and he’s a friendly and personable guy.

Again, it’s the “mom-and-pop” thing—at Maa Pies, you will be treated not just as a guest, but as a friend and neighbor—indeed, like family. So put Maa Pies on your list for breakfast and lunch, and be sure to check out the pies and pastries, too!

Maa Pies and More on Urbanspoon


Amanda said...

Beautifully written Julie! I can't wait to see it for myself.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Thanks, Amanda! I do encourage you to check out Maa Pies!