Florence Pie Bar (Florence, MA)

A rather lot of our travel has us passing through Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, and as I mentioned a year ago in my review of The Copperline in Chicopee, MA, the area has a quite an interesting combination of rural towns, college towns, and mill towns, and that’s led to a rather nice selection of quirky little restaurants. In this case, we wanted a light breakfast on our way down to Connecticut, so we stopped off in Florence MA (just west of Northampton) to check out Florence Pie Bar.

Located in a fairly cozy building that used to be a barber shop (and a general store before that), it’s now basically a coffee shop, with a large pastry case, a kitchen in back, and a half dozen smaller tables for seating (and, apparently in warmer months, some outside seating as well). Menu-wise, they keep it pretty simple at Florence, with “sweet” and “savory” sides of the menu. The former is around four different sweet pies, a tarlet, and on our visit, some smaller “orange bites”. Over on the savory side, it’s a selection of hand pies, quiches, galettes, and “roll ups”.

With an 11am arrival, we were in a sort of a “brunch” mood, so we both opted for savory items to start, myself going for the meat pie, and Carol going for the ham and cheese rollup. The meat hand pie was almost identical to a good Cornish pasty: a nice flaky crust with a good tooth to it that enrobes a rich, savory filling of meat and vegetables in a light, slightly creamy sauce.

The ham and cheese rollup was a bit like “pie meets grilled ham and cheese”, with the same flakey crust rolled around a central core of sliced ham topped with a melted-to-a-crisp cheese layer.

Following our savories, both of us were unable to resist the coffee chess, a custard-like pie with a very pleasant flavor to it, much like one of my other favorite pie flavors: the coffee cream pie (like the wonderful version at Hoosier Mama in Chicago). Indeed, I rather liked this pie: the custard was smooth and creamy, the flavor rich in coffee without being overly sweet or cloying, and the crust had a perfect amount of firmness and crumb to it. I’d gladly come back for another slice of this pie, or try one of their cream pies.

The menu isn’t much, but I love it when a place focuses on a small menu and executes a concept well. If I need a breakfast or early afternoon snack, I can easily see myself beating a path back to Florence Pie Bar for another meal.

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