British Pie Week is upon us once again (4-10 March 2013), giving us a timely excuse to pick out some of the best examples to be had in our fine capital today, from the downright decadent (why wouldn’t you use champagne in the filling?) to humble-pie-and-mash-shop mince-beef. We couldn’t possibly be pedantic about pie, so whether it’s encased in pastry or topped with mash - if we cleared our plates, it made the cut.
Piebury Corner - Holloway Road, N7
Following the London trend of street-stall to bricks and mortar, Piebury Corner was billed as the UK’s “first ever Pie Deli” when it opened earlier this year. The story (husband and wife team Nicky and Paul Campbell selling pies, pastries and scotch eggs from their front garden to passing Arsenal fans) is a good one, and their Holloway Road outpost is even better. Old favourites such as Steak and Ale, sit alongside newcomers like the brilliant Ray Parlour with pork stuffing and apple. All served with roast tatties or mash and topped with an unbelievable red wine gravy, its no wonder they are bombarded by loyal fans on match days.
What to eat: The Ray Parlour (pork stuffing and apple)
Balthazar - Covent Garden
It may only be March, but no restaurant has had more hype this year than Keith McNally’s London outpost of Balthazar. Much has already been said about the menu (most of it good), with many dishes mirroring its New York big sister. One of those to make the trip across the Atlantic is the Duck Shepherd’s Pie, which may just hit high enough in the comfort stakes to knock The Ivy’s version off the top spot. And if the pap shots of the Balthazar Covent Garden’s first couple of weeks are anything to go by, it’s giving the Ivy a run for its money in the celeb-spotting stakes too. .
What to eat: Duck Shepherd’s Pie
Manze's - Tower Bridge Road, SE1
The original Manze’s pie and mash shop was founded here on Tower Bridge Road in 1903 and is still doing a roaring trade today. All pies are made from scratch on site, starting with the beef which is minced using only prime cuts. As for the liquor, apparently it includes a ‘special secret ingredient’ which they’re not about to divulge now. We love the Manze website, which bigs up the fact that Jim Davidson is a regular and boldly states that, ‘It is also said that David Beckham eats here when he is in England.’ Well you can’t blame a joint for trying.
What to eat: Meat pie and liquor
Bob Bob Ricard - Soho
Despite the hoards of Soho restaurants to come after it, the deliciously-over-the-top Bob Bob Ricard will never be out of vogue because its far too fabulous to gave a damn about anything so transitory as fashion. Only they would take something as down-to-earth as a pie and elevate it to decadent heights by cooking the filling in champagne, topping it with a pretty patterned crust, then serving it with truffle gravy. Go for broke on pie week, book one of their booths and don’t forget to press the button for champagne (when in Rome).
What to order: Chicken, Mushroom and Champagne Pie
The Windmill - Mayfair
Ask a selection of pastry- loving Londoners where to get a decent pie and chances are The Windmill will come up more than once. With a pie club, a pie-dedicated You Tube channel and two ‘pie rooms’, there’s little doubt that they take their pastry filling very seriously. While they are featuring a one-off steak and beetroot version called ‘The London Barber’ between the 4th-10th, we think a visit to this Mayfair grande boozer should be for life, not just for Pie Week.
What to order: The classic steak has won the National Pie Award three times. Enough said.
MEATmission - Hoxton
Everything on the MEATmission menu, the newest and most easterly of Yianni Papoutsis’ now infamous burger joints, follows his tried and tested formula for great quality food turned filthy (we mean this as a compliment). The Roast Beef Sundae is not technically a pie but we’re letting this dish from the boys behind Meat Liquor, Meat Market et al slip though the net on the basis that it has all the ingredients of one.
Garlic mash? Good. Gravy? Good. Crispy onions? Good. Horseradish cream? Gooood.
What to order: Roast Beef Sundae
Cinnamon Soho - Kingly Street, W1
Cinnamon Soho is the West End outpost of Vivek Singh’s trio of restaurants that include the Cinnamon Kitchen and infamous Cinnamon Club. Famed for his Anglo-Indian creations, Singh has taken this one step further with his Rogan josh Shepherd's Pie.
It shouldn’t work but, with tender chunks of spicy stewed lamb, topped with a sweet potato crust - it resoundingly does.
What to order: Rogan josh Shepherd’s Pie
Events for Pie Week 2013
If you want to know where else to enjoy the best of British food, view our full list of London restaurant reviews.