Bring the whole family, mate, to friendly Pies & Pints

Pies & Pints wasn't quite what I expected. Oh, sure, it's a pub, and there's plenty of beer and savory pies to be had. However, I was envisioning a dim London pie-and-mash shop, serving jellied eels and meat pies of murky provenance at unnervingly low prices.

I certainly did not imagine a bright, smoke-free, family-friendly spot with excellent desserts, but I'm delighted to be wrong.

The prices at Pies & Pints are indeed low, the atmosphere is convivial and the food ranges from good to great. No eels, but I'll try not to hold that against them.

It's hard to miss that the service is unusually friendly. During my dinner, a young boy at the next table kept referring to his server as the Pie Lady, which she was gracious enough to find amusing. When I returned for lunch, a different Pie Person seemed delighted to discuss the food with me.

So, let's talk about those pies. There are meat (and some nonmeat) pies with a tender but not-so-flaky crust and a choice of hot, reassuring fillings. All are $4.25. There are two beef pies, made with Misty Isle Farms natural beef from Vashon: steak and potato, or beef mushroom burgundy. Two chicken pies: classic chicken (with peas, carrots and potatoes) or chicken marsala. And two vegetarian pies: Indian curry and Mediterranean, which includes artichoke hearts, Kalamatas, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. There are also daily specials; on the night I dined, it was a vegetarian spinach and feta pie.

Another special was "Irish Nachos." "They're so much more than just cheese fries," said the Pie Lady, which is not entirely true, but you can't fault her for the effort.

One pie isn't quite large enough for a full serving, but you'd have to be quite the trencherman to put away two. Luckily, you can have soup or salad with your pie, or if you're not easily embarrassed by saying goofy things, you can order the Pie Float ($6.95), which is a pie dunked into a bowl of split pea soup.

Desserts are made in-house by pastry chef Erika Dempsey. Keep an eye on her: If the dessert I tried is any indication, you are going to be hearing a lot more from her.

Check please:

Beef mushroom burgundy pie with split pea soup: A deep, winy stew inside a buttery pastry coating, this pie is more December than July, but that didn't stop me from plowing through it. The split pea soup is a little heavy, nothing more or less than you'd expect of split pea.

Indian curry pie with tomato- basil soup: The pie, full of vegetables (potatoes, cauliflower, peas) and curry powder, needed a hit of the salt shaker to bring out its full and comforting flavor. The chunky tomato soup, topped with a few shards of goat cheese, was quite tasty, even if the consistency was a bit like spaghetti sauce.

Chocolate peanut butter tart: If you like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, this tart should drive you insane with glee. It combines a perfect chocolate tart shell with a layer of peanut cream, a layer of chocolate ganache and a dusting of cocoa powder. Beautiful to look at and impossible to stop eating. The other signature dessert is a chocolate Guinness cake. When I returned to try it, it wasn't ready yet, so I had to settle for another tart. Poor me.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Beef mushroom burgundy pie with split pea soup $6.25

Indian curry pie with tomato-basil soup $6.25

Chocolate peanut butter tart $3.95

Leavenworth Whistling Pig Hefeweizen $3.75

Fuller's London Pride Pale Ale $4.50

Tax $2.30

Total $27.00

Matthew Amster-Burton:

Pies & Pints

1215 N.E. 65th St., Seattle; 206-524-7082

Pub grub


Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.- 2 a.m. Saturdays.

Full bar / major credit cards / no smoking / no obstacles to access.

Rating: recommended.