A Slice of Heaven at Pie in the Sky

It's official: Your grandmother no longer has any use aside from supplying you with $10 bills on your birthday and taking your side when your mother calls you fat (actually, that's still pretty useful...).  Pie in the Sky in Montgomery County will outbake your grandmother any day of the week.  Sorry, Meemo.

Pie in the Sky's humble beginning only makes their success story sweeter.  Marlene Stubler began baking pies and selling them at a local gas station in Conroe for fun.  Over time, the customer requests for her delicious pies grew to the point where she decided to make a go of it and open her own place.  Today, she turns a brisk business not only in pies, but also in breakfast and lunch at the popular restaurant off Loop 336.

The interior of Pie in the Sky is shabby chic by way of IKEA, a modern yet cozy place to pass the time with a slice of pie and a cup of coffee or to gather with friends over a meal.  Immense salads -- the spinach and strawberry is particularly refreshing -- and their fat, crispy sweet potato fries are local favorites, as are their cakes and cute cupcakes with rich icing.

But the pies are truly where they shine.

Behind the counter lies the immense open kitchen/bakery where Marlene and her team do their expert work.  Their pies are seasonal, so don't expect to get a pumpkin pie in March or a peach streusel in December.  And when they run out of a certain type of pie, that's it until the next day.  If you like your slice, you can grab a whole pie to take home from the cupboard near the register.

The pies themselves are bursting with freshness, from the ripe fruit to the handmade dough to the homemade whipped cream that tops every slice.  On my last visit, I had a slice of cherry and a slice of buttermilk, both a la mode.  I'm always wary of buttermilk pie in restaurants because it never lives up to my family's buttermilk pie -- whether made by my Meemo, my mother or myself.  But this buttermilk pie was completely perfect in every way, from the buttery, shortbread-like crust to the sugary custard filling, slightly accented with nutmeg.  It was a dose of nostalgia in every bite.

The cherry pie, too, was brilliant with its tart sweetness perfectly balanced against a crumbly crust.  Grab a mug from the antique cupboard on the wall, pour yourself a cup of coffee to go with your slice and it's all over: you'll be a Pie in the Sky repeat customer even if you live -- like me -- all the way back in the heart of Houston.

But there's good news for those of us who don't reside up north: Pie in the Sky has plans to open their first Houston location in the Heights later this year.

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