You'll find more than pie at Scratch, a restaurant and bakery in downtown Durham.
There is a lunch and brunch menu with soups and salads, rice bowls and avocado toast. But, when I was there with my girls a couple of weeks ago, we beelined it to the dessert case and, then, had trouble placing our order. So many decisions to make ...
Scratch is the creation of Phoebe Lawless, the award-winning chef and James Beard semi-finalist. She honed her skills as baker and pastry chef at the now shuttered Magnolia Grill in Durham and has plans to open another restaurant and Scratch location this year.
She's gotten press in Garden and Gun, the New York Times and Bon Appetit, among other places, and hardly needs help from this humble space, but here's what I loved about the hour I spent here with my kids.
So many pies: We were there in January where the choices included lemon chess, chocolate chess, apple and sun dried plum, coconut caramel cream and sorghum shoo fly (a blast from my own childhood). We picked the lemon chess and chocolate chess pies. They were perfection. The lemon chess had just the right mix of sweet and tart. The chocolate chess was pure decadence.
The drinks: I'm not sure if this is on the menu all of the time, but the steamed peppermint candy milk - warm milk served with a melting peppermint stick - tasted great between mouthfuls of that chocolate chess pie. It was definitely a novelty my kids loved.
The setting: Scratch isn't huge. The tables are pretty close together (which is something to know if you have a little one who likes to move all about). But, for us, it was great. As we shared our slices of pie, the women at the table next to us struck up a conversation about our selections and we chatted a bit about downtown Durham. That was just nice.
The moment: It had been a busy day for us so it felt good to sit down for a little dessert. My younger daughter read the books she'd just purchased from Letters Bookshop, which has a nice selection of children's books a couple of blocks away on Main Street. My older daughter and I talked about the articles we were reading in a New York Times left on one of the tables. We laughed and relaxed.
The price: Slices of pie ranged between $4 and $4.75. The peppermint candy milk was just $3.
Next time we go, we'll get more than pie. But we'll definitely get another slice of pie too.
Scratch is at 111 Orange St., downtown Durham.