Pie With A Past

1. Mmm… pie. Homer Simpson would give a fat thumbs-up to the mouthwatering Sour Cream Apple Pie at Michael Forbes Bar and Grille. The sweet-and-tart treat perfected by restaurateur Forbes Cross’ mom, Dona Jones, has been a menu staple since the original Michael Forbes in Waldo opened in 1985. Topped with an irresistible brown-sugar crumble and brimming with Granny Smith apples, the pie has wooed generations of sweet-toothed diners. The restaurant’s new Brookside location packs the tables with patrons in search of comfort food — chicken fried chicken with mashed, anyone? — and a slice of the famous pie.

2. More than 27,000 sour cream apple pies were made during the restaurant’s 15-year run in Waldo and the ticker continues, with five piping-hot fresh pies prepared daily. With blue-ribbon pie in such easy reach, Forbes is lucky he doesn’t have a sweet tooth — a fork or two a week is plenty for him. “I’m a steak-and-potato guy,” he says. “But I’ve never met someone who didn’t like our pie.” How he can resist the temptation of this perfectly baked pie remains a mystery — certainly he’s a stronger soul than we.

3. The pastry’s provenance lies with a famous Kansas Citian — Clarence M. Kelley, former KC Police Chief and FBI Director — who knew his way around law enforcement ... and the kitchen. One of Dona Jones’ friends found Kelley’s Sour Cream Apple Pie recipe in the 1980s and shared it with her. While developing dishes for Michael Forbes, Jones suggested that the pie, which she tweaked a bit, as bakers do, be a regular dessert item. A smash hit, the pie earned a place on the restaurant’s honor roll. “I’ve never attempted to remove it from the menu,” jokes Forbes, fearing a backlash. Kelley visited the restaurant a couple times each month in his later years for a good meal and pie, á la mode.

4. Forbes grew up on his mom’s gourmet cooking in the 1960s and started a love affair with the restaurant business while working at Homestead Country Club. He made 65 cents an hour washing dishes and worked his way up the chain. Today Forbes knows something as simple as pie and a cup of coffee create loyalty and repeat business. Moral of the story? Never, ever underestimate the power of pie. Especially when it’s Michael Forbes’ Famous Sour Cream Apple Pie.

5. Today Forbes’ son, Matt, is executive chef at the restaurant where he prepares popular standards and contemporary entrees like seared ahi tuna and fish tacos. And of course, there’s pie. There will always be pie. $4.50 a slice, an extra $1.25 á la mode, order it to go, order it before dinner, order it with breakfast … but take it from us, you’ll want to order it.

For more information on Michael Forbes other menu items, visit michaelforbesgrille.com

photos: Brooke Vandever