Nick Buglione says you can’t argue with a good pie
Years ago in a different journo life, I spent a day working in one of London’s oldest pie & mash shops, Goddards in Greenwich. It was an amazing day making and serving classic meat pies, stewed eels and their secret-recipe liquor.
That was then and this is now. Goddards are still going, but famous pie and mash legends such as Manze, are slowly disappearing. So the arrival in Brixton of micro-chain pie guys Pieminster is, to this pie lover, an intriguing prospect.
Reinvention is definitely à la mode. What next? Someone brings back Spud-u-like?
Pieminster lives or dies on the quality of the pie. They know that. And they do all sorts. None quite as rudimentary as a cheap and cheerful pie and mash shop. But they aren’t silly – mash is on the menu.
As is de rigeur, they have silly puns. The Deerstalker, venison, bacon red wine and lentils, The Matador, beef, chorizo and butter bean, The Saag pie-neer, you get my drift? They have added a vegan pie for the New Year, mysteriously called Kevin, but me and Magic Malcolm (it’s a long story) are as carnivorous as they come. So we pick The Moo & Blue, steak and stilton and The Kate & Sidney, steak and kidney of course with craft ale. And a jug of gravy each. I know we should have the mash but we go for rosemary skin-on fries and salt & pepper onion rings. Scandalous! They do minted peas if you are on one of your five a day.
There’s a good selection of beery accompaniments. Magic is an ale man so happily sups on their own Pieminster pie PA, I’m a lightweight so it’s Freedom Pilsner. They do some interesting ciders, milk stout and wheat beers.
Steak and kidney is about as traditional as Brit-cuisine gets and Pieminster’s rendition is a genuinely good, faithful homage. Nice and easy on the reinventing. Thin, crispy shortcrust, nicely soft underbelly, generous slow cooked beef, chunky kidney and rich, deep beefy sauce. And good value, pies weigh in at 50p over a mere fiver which these days is on the verge of a bargain.
You can wonder about the ins and outs of the constant reinvention of the very meals Britain, in all its multi-cultural, empire-flavoured tradition, was built on but, and this is an undisputable fact my friends, you cannot argue with a good pie. Its sibling The Moo & Blue was equally good. And the gravy had all the slow cooked sticky flavour that extended simmering gives. Chips, rings and other snacky sides are bit part players to the main events. But good ones mind.
My only mini-gripe. I think they should do their own liquor (classic parsley based sauce/gravy inseparable from trad pie and mash) as I would have definitely have ordered it. Expecting Pieminster to do stewed eels as well is, even I agree, unreasonable.
National Pie Week is coming up next month, just saying. Good pie (my turn to pun).
10 Market Row, SW9 8LD | pieminster.co.uk/restaurant/brixton | 020 7274 6369 | @pieminster