Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot Piiiiiiiiiiiiie
740 Main Street South, Woodbury, CT
Cost: I forget… 10 or 12 bucks I think
We don’t exactly live near Woodbury. It’s not on the way to anywhere we go with frequency. And yet, this was our 3rd or 4th visit to the stripmall eatery – and I can assure you that we’ll be back again.
I love Dottie’s Diner. We came for the cinnamon doughnuts (here) and stayed for the meals. After giving Dottie’s the nod for the best doughnut in the state, we were eager to have the lauded chicken pot pie for lunch. And really, who wouldn’t love a hot chicken pot pie on a chilly autumn day?
We’d already been to the Beardsley Cider Mill and Jones Family Winery down in Shelton (CTMQ visits here and here), so this was the topper to our perfect New England Fall day. Damian had found his second wind, and we were seated and ordered…
We were sad to hear in 2006 that the Phillips family was getting out of the restaurant business. Their little place along Antiques Row in Woodbury had been a destination diner for decades, its donuts and chicken pies without peer. We miss Bud and his daughters and in-laws and the late Mrs. Phillips and the kibitzing they encouraged around the counter, especially early in the morning.
But for donut lovers and chicken pie lovers and honest-eats lovers in general, the news is very, very good. New owner Dotty Sperry is on the beam. “I knew I had to keep the best of the old place,” she said, “But I wanted to add my personality, too.” The chicken pie is an excellent example. Traditional farm house chicken pie is still available, and still made by the Phillips family: a small savory crust loaded with nothing but warm, moist chicken meat. Dottie’s own version, which includes gravy, peas and carrots is an option for $1 more. The gravy has changed from the old-style white cream to a darker sauce with spicy zest. The mashed potatoes are the genuine article; they and cranberry sauce have been supplemented on the plate with a sprig of al dente broccoli and a few thin, buttery slices of cooked squash.
As for ambience, Dottie has spiffed things up with retro aqua upholstery in the booths and a new counter; but the friendly community feeling so essential to the soul of a diner is thriving. During our last visit, we had a hard time getting Dottie’s attention, she was so busy schmoozing with her customers.
And from a Roadfood commenter: One of Dottie’s signature dishes, the chicken pie (about five inches in diameter, two inches in height) was the Phillips’ all-meat version, though our waitress asked us if we wanted Dottie’s edition with added vegetables. It comes dressed in a robe of light brown gravy, which is draped over a small portion of mashed potatoes. The crust is flaky but not too much so, and of course the chicken chunks are tender and flavorful. This is a pie with crust on all sides, not just on the top as some vendors around New England prefer. The mashed potatoes are exemplary and afford extra gravy for dipping a few chicken pieces when the pie’s own gravy is depleted. Steamed broccoli and cut carrots on the side are also perfect, not overcooked and lifeless like at other restaurants. This pie was our favorite entrée of the day, and we can’t wait to return to order it again.
I’m not sure what more I can say. I grew up on, and continued to eat, Swanson’s Chicken pot pies well into adulthood. Then I married Hoang and she unveiled a homemade version and I started making money, so those one dollar microwave specials are relics of my kitchen’s past. (But I’m sure I’d still gobble them up.)
Dottie’s pie is phenomenal. Everything about it was on point – the crust, the chicken, the gravy, the veggies… I’m not a big mashed potato fan, but I licked my plate clean of these things.
The only downside was that Damian decided he wanted to eat half of Hoang’s entrée… Which means that Damian got to eat half of Hoang’s entrée. (Seriously, could you deny that face?)
Dottie’s is actually on the Roadfood “best” list three times – the most of any eatery on the list. And that’s not an accident. For the record, here’s the donut bread pudding page.