To my dearest of Houston restaurants, House of Pies:
We met in September of 2012. A transplant from Arkansas, I was beginning my freshman year at the University of Houston, and after I’d been in the city three weeks, a mutual friend introduced us. We were destined to meet, I think.
I still remember the first time I walked into your place on Kirby Drive and saw the rows of pies, cakes and cookies enclosed behind glass. Among them, the Texas Pecan Fudge, a warm, heavenly mix of fudge and pecans, best served with vanilla ice cream. The turtle cheesecake, irresistible with its oozy top layer of caramel, pecans and melted chocolate. And of course, the Bayou Goo, with whipped cream and chocolate shavings piled high over custard and a pecan crust. My mouth watered. I was in love.
Let’s face it: you’re any broke college student’s dream. You’re constantly available to hang out, being one of few Houston restaurants that stays open 24 hours. On finals weeks, when the words
before my eyes are blurring and I hazily remember I haven’t eaten since yesterday, you’ve been a sanctuary, a place where my friends and I can relax and gorge ourselves. You don’t even judge us when we roll in wearing old sweatpants, flip-flops and UH Cougar T-shirts we got for free. You just give us pie. No questions asked.
You satisfy my constant craving for breakfast food at odd hours of the night, whether it’s a heaping platter of banana and pecan pancakes or the simple yet satisfying Club Breakfast combination: French toast, eggs and bacon.
But from the beginning, our relationship took a dark turn. On the first night we met, everything in my car, which I thought I’d locked but hadn’t, was stolen. Between us, my friends and I lost a laptop, an iPod touch, expensive schoolbooks and valuable notes. I was shaken up. I’d been told Houston wasn’t the safest city around, but the last place I expected to be robbed at was a place of life and cheer like House of Pies.
Yet I kept coming back. You were my go-to comfort on my most stressful days, and you were nice to my banking account, since I could consume a hearty dinner and a fluffy slice of pie for less than $15.
But your comfort is temporary; I know how bad you are for me. I know that I gained the Freshman 15 partially from hanging out at your place every weekend. I mean, what else did I expect? That the fully loaded Patty Melt Deluxe wouldn’t stick to my hips? I may have been a freshman, but there’s no excuse for being that naïve.
That’s what shattered the first half of my fantasy. I realized bitterly that unless I wanted to clog my arteries to the point of no salvation, I had to stop visiting you so often. And so I swore to limit my visits to once every few months, and I’ve stuck to that oath…mostly. Coincidentally, I soon went back down a few pant sizes. But it was one night three months ago that really shattered my trust.
Some friends and I stopped by your place to celebrate the end of the semester and our jobs at the student newspaper. After a long year of late-night editing and stressful deadlines, nothingsounded better than a heaping plate of waffles and a big slice of Bayou Goo.
When we finally paid the bill and shuffled out the doors toward the car we’d all traveled in together, the night’s happiness evaporated. I heard my friend’s heartbroken reaction before I saw it: “No! Not again…”
This time it was not my car but my friend’s that had been broken into. The window was smashed, and our bags were gone. The manager said he had called the police. We waited for half an hour, but the police didn’t show. Eventually, we piled into the wounded vehicle and drove back to UH, our happy night ruined.
I don’t blame you, House of Pies, not really. You can’t help where you’re located, and besides, you have that other location on Westheimer. But that’s so far from us at UH, and besides, my memories are on Kirby Drive. So despite everything, I’ll be back for another slice of that Bayou Goo. And I’ll leave everything of value at home, just in case.
With all my love and appetite,