Sarah Bennetto O’Brien at Gateway Village
by Andrew Sprague
My neighbour Dale made a completely unique choice when I asked him about his favourite restaurant meal on the Island. He chose the grilled cheese with potato salad from Scapes in Borden. Not that the meal itself was particularly unique, but he was the only person of all the people who wrote in or spoke to me who chose that meal. He was also the only person to choose a meal in Borden-Carleton, or just about anywhere west of Victoria for that matter. Dale’s a fan of potato salad and he said it was the best he’d ever had.
As you may already know, Scapes is gone. Chef and owner Sarah Bennetto O’Brien decided late last year to take her Gateway Village location in a slightly different direction in 2017, and instead focus on her most popular item, handpies. Since the shift in focus the Handpie Company has absolutely exploded. It is one of, if not the busiest non-franchise food service venue in the Borden-Bedeque-Kinkora region. We dropped in on a family drive in mid-July at about 11 in the morning and the place was already hopping. We were headed to the beach with friends and we wanted to pick up a few handpies and potato salad to share.
“How’s business, Sarah?” I asked.
She flushed. “I’m busy,” she stammered, with a wide grin. “We had a laugh in the kitchen the other day. We were talking about how long it takes, on average, to turn hand pies into money. It hasn’t been taking all that long.”
I’m not the least bit surprised. Her handpies are awesome. Picture a six-inch pie, cut in half but fully sealed in pastry. They are just right for eating with one hand. There’s quite a selection, too. There are traditional meat pies, like tourtiere and pasty. There are sure-to-be-favourites like bacon cheeseburger and barbeque pulled pork. But the best sellers are the curried chick pea, and my personal pick, the beet, corn and goat cheese handpie. I’m eating the pasty handpie right at this minute. It’s filled with beef and potatoes and it’s making a case for itself. The truth is, they’re all delicious.
The Handpie Company is a hit with locals and hundreds of nearby industrial workers. More and more people from outside the region are making the drive to Borden to stock up on frozen pies, including someone who owns one of the most discerning palettes on the Island. I won’t say who this person is, but she freely admits making the drive from Victoria by the Sea to load up on handpies from time to time. Most telling is the company’s own Facebook page. Every second week they’re hiring someone new to help keep up with demand.
Let’s go back to Dale. Dale loved the potato salad. The Handpie Company still serves the potato salad. It is the impetus for the article so it’s only right we give it its due. My sister Alana makes a mean potato salad. It’s her speciality and it’s delicious. The potato salad at the Handpie Company is better. It is. I’m going to pay for saying that, but I have to be honest with readers. I’m sorry, Alana.
Go to Borden, even if you’re not heading there, and get yourself a handpie and some potato salad. If you’re headed to the bridge pop in and get some snacks for the drive. The Handpie Company supports local and so should you. It’s a decision you won’t regret and one you will likely repeat.
—What is your favourite Island restaurant meal? Each month, Andrew Sprague heads out to eat based on your recommendation. Post it online using #TryThisAndrew on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.