>> 2/21/11

204 Van Dyke Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 858-5333

An unseasonably hot day last week found me in Red Hook wandering aimlessly from renovated warehouses to dilapidated shanties on the verge of collapse. Red Hook has been on the way up in the last few years and those shanties are getting harder and harder to come by. In fact, Red Hook's own Fort Defiance was named my restaurant of the year for 2010. This particular lay afternoon found me on the far end of Van Dyke Street. If you go as far as you possibly can, until your very next step would land you in the briny seas, then you have reached Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies.

Nestled in this red brick building are several small art businesses (florists, sculptors, etc.) and Steve, or his bakery anyway, is among them inside the door marked "Pies Here". Walk in and up to the counter filled to capacity with toys and assorted brightly-colored cutesies. Today, Steve's was deserted. There was no one to be seen, no one to even be heard. A sign instructs you to ring a bell and, if no one hears that one, to ring an even bigger one. I rang. A smiling little girl emerged, took my order, and disappeared back into the kitchen.

If variety is the spice of any life you might lead, you won't find it here. Steve's makes key lime pie. Not key lime pie with Oreos, not key lime smoothies, not key lime tea, not lime cake decorated with edible keys. Key lime pie, in various sizes ($25 for a ten-incher) with one exception. I ordered a small four inch Tart and I ordered the exception, a Swingle, where they take one of those said tarts and dunk it in dark chocolate.

There's no place inside to sit, but there are a couple of picnic benches outside, as well as a rickety bistro table long-since harvested from a brasserie's yard sale. The sea wind, coupled with the complete isolated silence of the area - literally, there wasn't even the sound of traffic - made me crave a coffee to drink along with my pies. Give me a coffee and a book and I could have sat there for an hour. Meditative would be a good word.

Oh right, the pies. I liked them. Smooth and sharply tangy. Steve's has been the recipients of a hundred write ups by now and I'd certainly return, but they're no replacement for the ones I had in college on spring break in the real Key West. The ones there were more mellow. I preferred their regular pie to the swingle, even though I really liked the idea of dunking a key lime tart in more sugar, but the dark chocolate overwhelmed the pie. Tarts were $4, swingles were $5. I imagine that in the summer, this place must be a mob scene and the line must be out the door. I guess I'll have to find out.

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