Edible Michiana Winter 2013 : Page 10

spilling the beans NO HUMBLE PIE Pleasant House Bakery Brings Royal Treatment to Three Oaks hen it comes to pie, Grandma knows best. At least chef Art Jackson’s grandma does. Before Jackson opened Pleasant House Bakery in Chicago, the chef ’s grandmother advised him, “You should make pies. You should have a little pie shop.” Jackson told her, “You know, Grandma, I want to do something a little fancier than that. Something a little more ambitious.” And he did—working in fine-dining establishments like Chicago’s Les Nomades, making “fancy French food.” But when it came to opening his own place with wife and pastry chef Chelsea Jackson, the couple set out to do something that was high-quality but approachable. As Chelsea Jackson puts it, “We didn’t want to alienate anyone. We wanted to make the kind of food that the fellow down the street would eat. Or that people would travel for.” In other words, great comfort food. Like pie. Pleasant House Bakery—named for Jackson’s grandparents’ home in England—opened its second location this fall in Three Oaks, Mich-igan, and specializes in what the couple calls Royal Pies: traditional British-style savory pies stuffed with sustainably raised meats and veg-etables and herbs from the restaurants’ own gardens. (Chelsea Jackson explains that not having a farm for the restaurant never entered their minds. Before they signed the lease on their first restaurant, they had started building the first of their three growing spaces in Chicago.) The Jacksons’ Royal Pies are hearty and flavorful: The Steak and Ale pie (their best-seller) is rich and meaty; the Balti Chicken is sea-soned with curry and offered with a side of pungent chutney. The crusts are flaky, buttery and indulgent. It’s no surprise that they’ve garnered quite a following. Bon Appétit magazine sang their praises this spring and, more re-cently, Chicago culinary superstar Paul Kahan (the force behind a plethora of Chi-town favorites, including Blackbird, Avec, Publican and Big Star) named Pleasant House Bakery his “official favorite res-taurant in Chicago.” Grandma would be proud. The new Three Oaks location may bring the Jacksons back to their roots even more than the original Pleasant House: The Jacksons grew up in small towns in the Midwest—Art in Illinois and Chelsea in 10 edible Michiana Winter 2013 W Kansas—and despite having enjoyed living in world-class cities like Chicago, London and San Francisco, the couple felt immediately at home in Michiana. “We just fell in love with Three Oaks,” Chelsea says. “We had been talking about opening a second location, but weren’t sure where it would be. I think we ultimately surprised a lot of people when we didn’t do something in the heart of the city, but we really liked the idea of being in the country.” For one thing, Three Oaks’s more rural environs will allow the couple to expand their vegetable and herb production. The Jacksons have already grown tomatoes and peppers on the rooftop in Three Oaks and are looking into additional gardening space for next season. The new location is also an opportunity to expand other offer-ings, including house-made sodas (like their Royal Ginger Fizz) and, most exciting for the Jacksons, craft beer. Brewmaster Amanda Bates is already offering up a handful of food-friendly brews like her Codger Extra Special Bitter, a classic English ale. Bates, 27, studied with a former Goose Island brewer and prides herself on crafting beer that is “true to style” and easy to drink. Like Three Oaks itself, the food and drink at Pleasant House is al-luring in its simplicity. It is familiar and satisfying—some might even say humble. But, Chelsea Jackson says, “We like to think that some-thing considered by most to be humble can really be pretty special.” We would have to agree. Pleasant House Three Oaks 9 N. Elm St., Three Oaks, MI 269.756.3600 PleasantHouseThreeOaks.com Pleasant House Bakery 964 W. 31st St., Chicago, IL 773.523.7437 PleasantHouseBakery.com —By Maya Parson —Photography by Grant Ramsey

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