I fell in love with British-style sausage rolls and meat pies on my first trip to London 22 years ago. These simple, fresh, hot and tasty pies provided a cheap, filling meal for a tourist on the go.
I also was lucky to have a friend with an English-born mother who every so often would send me some of her homemade sausage rolls. But it's been 10 years since my last trip to the British Isles and Joe's mom has moved to Florida, so it was with great joy that I heard about Pie Boss in Aurora.
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Pie Boss1649 Montgomery Road, Aurora, (630) 898-3448, pieboss.com
Cuisine: British-style meat and veggie pies, sausage rolls, pasties
Setting: No-frills counter service with minimal seating
Entrees: $3.49 to $5.29
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday
I grabbed my friend Joe and his 5-year-old twins and headed out to this tiny walk-in restaurant. Located where farmland meets suburbia, in a nondescript strip mall on the southeast corner of Montgomery Road and Waterford Drive, you'll have to look sharp to see the small sign in the window.
Opened in June of this year, co-owner and co-chef Tyrel Naidoo and his family wanted to bring their favorite food from their native Durban, South Africa, to America. The former British colony is awash in commercial meat pie fast-food stands, but Naidoo wanted to make their shop a bit more relaxed, clean and "homestyle." They also decided to keep the menu simple as not to overwhelm customers.
The seating is minimal -- just two small tables and a long, hard bench -- and echoes the limited menu. Six hot pies are on the menu, along with a meat pasty and a sausage roll (the beverage selection is simply canned soda and bottled water). Yet, the fresh-made selection is more than enough for a satisfying meal.
Passing on the Spicy Mixed Vegetable hot pie, we ordered everything else Naidoo bakes. Our favorite meat pie was the Pepper Steak -- sirloin in a rich black peppered gravy -- followed closely by the Cheeseburger Pie. You wouldn't go wrong with either the Chicken and Mushroom or the tasty Spinach and Feta pies, either as all of these hot pies featured a nice flaky crust.
At $4.99 to $5.49 each, the hot pies might seem a little pricey for their size -- most adults could easily finish off two. A more budget-conscious choice would be the Sausage Roll. At $3.49, it could easily be a nice lunch by itself. The slightly spicy sausage is rolled in flaky, soft yet crunchy pastry -- the twins gobbled up their share with gusto! The Meat Pasty, a traditional Welsh turnover, also was extremely tasty and featured a softer, buttery crust rather than the usual hard-baked crust you find in Great Britain.
Naidoo said he plans to introduce a few more selections, like a spicy lamb pie and Portuguese-style chicken pie, in the coming months.
Pie Boss also offers two dessert pies -- the Mini Apple Crumble and the Mini Custard Tart, the second one featuring a shortbread crust. At $1.50 each or four for $5, they provide a nice end to a meal.
All menu items are available frozen for taking home for later baking, with a special of six pies for $28.99. Naidoo strives to cook the pies to order (no one wants a lukewarm meat pie), so if you want a hot pie and you're in a hurry, it's best to call in your order 25 minutes before you want to pick it up so its fresh from the oven and ready for maximum enjoyment.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.