Monday, 27 July 2015

A ready meal pie? I'm always ready for pie!

Robins Pie & Mash review

Robins Pie & Mash is a family-owned business with several retail shops across East London and Essex. They've been going for 5 generations - so you'd certainly expect they'd know a thing or two about pie and mash!

Indeed, their website gives us a nice bit of history about the famous food, with pie and mash dating back to the 19th century.

Now, not content with selling their pie from their popular stores, Robins Pie & Mash has been branching out into new areas of the retail market. This is a Robins Pie & Mash ready meal, which has recently been made available in the frozen section of ASDA in London and Essex (although according to MySupermarket, it's no longer available? - will have to verify this!). Their pies are reportedly handmade and filled with 100% Scottish Beef.


Once cooked and on the plate, you can see this is a pretty standard pie and mash affair. You've got your minced beef pie, mashed potato and parsley liquor. 


In my opinion, the pie is a bit too dark in colour with an uneven bake. On the all important cross-section, you can see the pie is sort of half-filled with your standard looking beef mince filling. I found the pastry to be a little floppy and chewy, and the pie to be a little small and not particularly filling.


Overall, the pie was reasonably pleasant, but I didn't find anything particularly noteworthy about it. However I'm pleased that Robins has made their pies available through the ready meal route. More pies mean happier Pierateers!

Robins Pie and Mash
Score: 4.2/7
TJP
continue reading "A ready meal pie? I'm always ready for pie!"

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Pleased as punch with Punch Tavern pies

Punch Tavern Game and Fish Pie Reviews

Punch Tavern
Punch Tavern, Fleet Street

Once again, Pierateers RAS and TJP came knocking at the Punch Tavern on London’s Fleet Street to see if they could deliver some more knock-out pies.

It was November 2014 when RAS and TJP first tried the pies at this gin-friendly gastropub - and what great pies they were! The chicken pie clucked up a Pierate 'Highly Recommended' 6.02/7, while the rabbit pie jumped in at 5.92/7.

This time, RAS and TJP were hungry for the game pie and the fish pie - and with the standard set so high last time, will their dreams be shot down or will it be 'squids in' at the Punch Tavern?

First up, the fish pie.

We were thrilled to note that this supreme little parcel of joy was - unlike many fish pies out there - fully encased in pastry. It's great news that the Punch Tavern does believe in wholly encasing their fillings in pastry, including their fish pies, when too many fish pies are sold with a mashed potato lid. (Not a pie!)

fish pie punch tavern
The fish pie
According to the menu, this pie contains smoked haddock, king prawn, salmon, squid, mussels and mushroom sauce. It costs £12.50, a price we decided last time wasn't "the cheapest pub pies out there, but by no means the most expensive...we would rate the pie pretty well for cheapness". We'd stand by that statement for this review - the Punch Tavern is in a great location and the pies come with a generous portion of mash and vegetables.

For colour, the pie loses a few points because it looks a bit too dark - is the lid over-baked? The condition of the pie loses a few marks because - although you can't quite see in the photo here - the base of the pie has become a bit soggy in the sauce and has lost some of its structural integrity. Otherwise the pie looks well presented. The pie truly is the king upon the castle of mash, surrounded by a moat of creamy sauce.

Contents of the fish pie

On the cross-sectional view, you can see the content spilling out of the pie. The air gap you can see is just because the content has tumbled out of the pie. I'd say this pie was very well filled with a minimal air gap. The lid does look a little overly crisp - I'm hoping this isn't a sign of bad things to come.

On tasting the lid, my fears were realised. Yes, the lid was rather overbaked for my liking - a bit too dry and crispy. By contrast, the base was a little too wet and soggy (after absorbing the moisture from the sauce). However, the pastry did still taste nice, and the filling was also delicious, although a little dry in parts - perhaps as the creamy sauce was mainly outside, rather than inside, the pie! I don't think I've ever seen such a wide variety of fish inside a pastry-encased pie before. The fish flavours worked well together with the creamy sauce (though you'll know at Pierate that we prefer our gravy in the pie, rather than round the side of it, so this is perhaps something to consider).

RAS also felt that the fish pie was a little bit dry inside and overly cooked on top - so certainly benefited from the sauce surrounding the pie plus a bit chewy in content at times, but such a fantastic array of sea food and fully encased in pastry too that it was very impressive.

Overall, the fish pie was a tasty delight and I'd definitely recommend you give it a go! After all, you don't see too many fully-encased in pastry fish pies out there! You'll see this pie appearing in the 'Best Pies in London Restaurants' article soon!

Then it was time for the game pie.

We both agreed that the game pie was the nicer of the two. It was similar in quality to the rabbit pie eaten previously but a bit more of a mix of flavour. The lid wasn't quite as over-baked as in the fish pie, and it was stuffed with the same great quantity of content. With a similar price and similar sides of mash and veg, this pie had few differences to the fish pie we'd just enjoyed.


The game pie

The game pie - cross-sectional view

Overall they were both very good pies again and - while we'd would prefer them not to be swimming in quite so much sauce/gravy when served (I would rather add this myself really, as both pies arrived to the table with soggy bottoms due to this approach), they were two more top rated pies!

Punch Tavern Fish pie
Score: 5.50/7
RAS and TJP


Punch Tavern game pie
Score: 6.01/7
RAS and TJP


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

Are these Dees Pies Dee-licious?!

Dee's Pies Reviews - Chicken, Peppered Steak, English Breakfast and Mushroom and Asparagus Pies


It was the second week of the Wimbledon tennis championships and while it’s still early in the morning, you can sense the hustle and bustle as fans of one of the most iconic sporting events in the world start to gather for a (potentially rain interrupted) day of quality tennis.

I, however, am just in Wimbledon to talk pie. Yep – no strawberries and cream for me! I’m meeting with the owner of Dee's pies to hear how the pie world is treating them and – very importantly – get my hands on some of these apparently “Dee-licious” pies (see what they’ve done there?!)

Dee's Pies Champagne Chicken Pie Review
Dee's Pies Champagne Chicken Pie Review
With a background as a chef, company owner Dee has been running the pie business as a full on business for the last 18 months or so. With the demand growing and growing (his pies have recently been in the newspapers for being well received by none-other than self-confessed pie fan and Top Gear presenter Chris Evans!), Dee finds himself in the kitchen nearly every day, with deliveries around London every few days. It was therefore great to get a good half hour chat in with the man himself! And a real pleasure it was to, talking pie and… well, more pie! This will form the basis of a future article, but for now, let’s get on with some pie rating!

See below which pies are!
To start off with, these pies have some of the nicest pastry around! It was great shortcrust pastry! A really good sign of a quality pie is that you can even enjoy the pastry on its own – and you definitely could with these Dee’s pies! The pie-fectionist in me would say the pastry did crumble slightly too easily in parts (especially the one we rated from frozen – but that was to be expected) but all in all it was delicious pastry and complimented the fillings well. You’ll also be pleased to know the pies all passed the “hand-held” test, impressive with the amount of filling packed inside! The only other thing to briefly mention about the pastry was that the colour – while far from being pale and anaemic like some pies I’ve rated – isn’t quite as golden coloured as I would demand for the perfect pie. Still, colour doesn’t affect the taste, so it certainly shouldn’t put you off purchasing!

Dees Pies have gone for the one-price-fits-all policy of £3.50 per meat pie (with vegetarian pies all being just £3). It certainly makes it easier at the market stall, though I imagine it would leave some customers thinking they are getting a better deal if they go for a lamb pie over a chicken pie, for example. All the meat pies I had were definitely packed with a lot of meat and there was pretty much no air gaps to be seen, which is great. I’d say they are a tad small compared to what I would prefer – so while one was filling I would (in part because they are so tasty!) normally prefer one and a half to two pies. This does slightly impinge on their “cheapness” score but I would still definitely buy more! They certainly are very good pies and they have a great range of pies too, so with these being the general thoughts, let’s get some individual detail!

Champagne chicken – This was a very nice chicken pie, filled to near capacity with lovely tender pieces of chicken (see photo above). While the sauce did add something to the chicken, I have preferred some other white sauces more. But the fact it is champagne will add sparkle to your dinner table and conversations if you serve it at a dinner party! A little something to compliment the chicken pieces would probably add to this pie, perhaps a little bit of carrot or similar, even though I would recommend focusing on the chicken element. A little small for £3.50 but generally very good and would eat again.

Score: 6.04/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.75, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5.75, Total: 6.04/7]


Dee's Pies English Breakfast Pie Review
Dee's Pies English Breakfast Pie Review
English Breakfast – The breakfast pie contained a great range of ingredients, including quite a bit of meat and egg, though the pie did taste a bit sweet – I presume as a result of the inclusion of baked beans, which are known to contain sugar. Personally I’m not a fan of baked beans anyway, but the sweetness of them had infiltrated the whole of the pie, so pie fans should be aware of this ingredient before purchasing. However capacity was very strong and it is a great idea to put a full English breakfast into pastry as a breakfast option!

Score: 5.79/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 5.75, Condition 6, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5.5, Total: 5.79/7]


Dee's Pies Peppered Steak Pie Review
Dee's Pies Peppered Steak Pie Review
Peppered Steak – Very nice pie, packed with meat. A little more gravy would be ideal but meat was moist and tender. Held together quite well, though a little flaky. Few bits of fat on the meat in the pie, which was a little disappointing and stopped the pie scoring quite as highly as its’ pie-tential, but in general very good. Significant pepper, but in general one I would eat again (even if I would prefer a steak and ale!)

Score: 6.15/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6.75, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6.2, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 5.6, Content 6.25, Total: 6.15/7]


Dee's Pies Mushroom and Asparagus Pie Review
Dee's Pies Mushroom and Asparagus Pie Review
Mushroom and Asparagus (v) – While the pastry was good as in all the pies and the capacity was strong, this combo didn’t really excite me. I am by admission a meat lover but the combo of quite chewy mushroom and crisp asparagus – while pleasant – did not really wow me. Certainly not a bad pie but I wouldn’t personally want to pay £3 for that veggie combo again. However I realise vegetarians may love this unique combo, which I don’t think I have ever heard of before!

Score: 4.86/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5.5, Consistency 5, Condition 6, Chewiness 4, Cheapness 4, Content 4, Total: 4.86/7]



Overall, these really are quality pies from Dee’s Pies, made from great quality, fresh ingredients and I can certainly see why they have celebrity appeal! Two Pierate Highly Recommended offerings without even a steak and ale pie in sight! We’ll be rating two more Dee’s Pies soon, including my favourite one of the lot!

RAS

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Thursday, 16 July 2015

My Eyes Can't Believe My Pies!

My Pie Free Range Chicken, Smoked Ham and Tarragon Pie Review


My Pie Chicken Pie Review
What filling! What capacity! The My Pie Chicken pie
It was a pleasure last week as part of my #LondonPie tour of our nation's capital to meet some London pie makers and one of them was Chris Brumby, who has set up "My Pie" in London. You may recognise the owner's name because Pierateer TJP actually had the pleasure of meeting Chris slightly over a year ago, before the business kicked off in it's current form and the pie truck (see below) had actually been purchased, and Chris' Beef and Red Wine pie was rated at a very impressive 6/7 (Pierate Highly Recommended).

It was clear from that first interaction that the pie business was still in its infancy at that stage and while it has taken a while to finally get our hands on some more of the pies, we're delighted we have! We were given a number of pies to rate and are slowly making our way through them, but the chicken pie I had first off was so good I wanted to make sure I got the review up on the blog! Other pie reviews, and a brief pie maker profile based on our chat, will be posted in the coming weeks, but first of all let's get cracking with our first pie review and the delightfully tasting:

Free Range Chicken, Smoked Ham and Tarragon Pie

My Pie Chicken Pie Review
My Pie Chicken Pie Review
The chicken, ham and tarragon pie was lovely and golden in colour – and quite simply one of the best pies I've seen to look at. It just misses out on colour pie-fection due to the slightly different shades from paler to strongly gold across the side of the pie, but it's about as close as you could reasonably expect. The lid, in particular, was crisp and golden like all meat pies should be. It almost felt rude to cut into it!

But hey, we’ve not got to over 500 pie reviews by just looking at – and not cutting into – the delightful pies we are presented with aboard the Pierate Ship! The knife cut with a pleasing crunch through the top pastry, and while the base seemed a little thicker (probably to hold in all the meati-licious filling I’m about to get to…) it held together very well. The pie passed the “hand held” test with flying colours too and the filling didn't leak out all over the place (like one with too much gravy or sauce and loosely filled might do).

Filled to near capacity, with just a small air gap, the filling was very good. The content was large chunks of tender chicken which were delicious and the white creamy sauce complemented the chicken and pieces of ham well. It was certainly one of the best white sauces I have had in a chicken pie and it was pleasing to see decent pieces of ham in there. The ham clearly wasn’t just an afterthought, as can be the impression in some chicken and ham pies we rate, which is pleasing. Both the ham and tarragon were noticeable and flavoursome, but not dominating the flavour of the pie. All in all, to be able to get two of these pies cold for £7 is good value and it’s a very high scoring Pierate Highly Recommended pie!

My Pie Free Range Chicken, Smoked Ham and Tarragon Pie
Score: 6.39/7
[Colour 6.5, Capacity 6.25, Consistency 6.5, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 6, Content 6.5, Total: 6.39/7]
RAS


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Load of McIntosh

McIntosh of Strathmore - Scotch Pie Review


I don’t quite understand supermarket deli counters. Don’t they sell pretty much the same kind of stuff that you can get in the rest of the supermarket except you can get someone to hand it to you? Does cutting the cheese off a bigger block make it fresher than the stuff you get already cut? But the main problem I have is that I don’t feel I can just look at the counter to see if there is anything I might fancy because then the person at the counter will ask me if I want something. I will then panic and feel I have to ask for something. This normally means I end up with something weird that I don’t want like a piece of dandelion meringue. But, this is probably just my inability to interact like a normal human being!

 
The reason this does happen to me quite often is that I like to have a glance at the deli counter to see if there are any interesting pies on offer. Whilst in Tesco I spotted a McIntyre Scotch Pie for 49p and thought I should give it a whirl. Given that the brand seems so popular I felt I had to review it as part of my quest to find out what makes the best Scotch pie.

What slightly baffled me was that Tesco sell the packaged version of this pie on the shelves at 2 of £1. I was surprised that this 2p saving didn’t cause people to flock to the deli counter. For the very cheap price it wasn’t too bad, it beats other similar priced Scotch Pies in our rankings but don't expect anything amazing.

Condition - 4.00 out of 7 – Pretty standard Scotch Pie shape, it was more mass-produced in appearance than most. It did look pleasingly tall and didn't have an excessively large pastry rim at the top to hide lack of filling.

Colour – 3.80 out of 7 – A little bit too pale but still appealing.

Cheapness – 6.00 out of 7 – Yes, Scotch pies tend to be cheap because they just contain mince and they are normally small. But 49p is a bit of a steal for any pie (as long as it’s edible).

Capacity – 3.10 out of 7 – Like a reverse TARDIS, this pie seemed to look quite big on the outside but small on the inside. It wasn't all that well filled, this isn’t unexpected for a cheap pie but does bring the score down.

Chewiness – 3.90 out of 7 – The mince was ground up pretty fine so it wasn’t at all chewy. However, there wasn’t really any crunch to the pastry and there could have been a bit more to get your teeth into in general.

Content – 4.00 out of 7 – Peppery and moist, the filling was nice but for me it did taste a bit too much like a sausage roll. Perhaps this could be why Tesco Dumfries cannot tell the difference between a pie and a sausage roll. The fat kept it moist but they could have probably got away with less of it. It looked a bit rank.

Consistency – 3.90 out of 7 – For the price this was not bad, it slipped down well. I think it is better than the Bell’s version who I guess are McIntosh’s main supermarket competitor.

Beef Scotch Pie (McIntyre) 
4.10/7 

SJL

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Monday, 13 July 2015

The Brampton Pie Company Pie Reviews

The Brampton Pie Company - Steak, Chicken and Apple and Raspberry Pie Reviews


Having been given a recommendation to try The Brampton Pie Company in Huntingdon, a trip to see the football and review the pies at Cambridge United proved too good an opportunity to miss for Pierateers RAS and SJL. They would be driving right past Huntingdon on the way from Birmingham. It took us a little while longer to find the shop than we expected but when we did it was worth it. Brampton Pie Company was a fairly unique place. There was no fancy branding or cool interior like many modern speciality pie shops (Piebury Corner, Urban Pie or Square Pie spring to mind). Brampton Pie Company was much more simple - clearly investing their money not in the fancy interior but what really matters: the pies! It reminded us of a butchers shop. In fact they do also sell meat and other other savouries in addition to the pies. What we loved about The Brampton Pie Company was that you could see the pies being made before your very eyes. They had a number of staff on the other side of the counter preparing the pies and making the magic happen while we ordered!

Brampton Pie Company Shop

The counter had a wonderfully large display of pies. Whilst a range of flavours were present but they were all pretty traditional flavours. They were not trying to reinvent the wheel in this shop, but if it isn't broke, why fix it? The top of our pie rankings are filled with traditional flavours. Unique flavours might capture our attention for a while, the classic flavours like steak and ale are the ones we buy regularly.

Brampton Pie Filling
We got up close to a pie being created.
This is where the magic happens!
We must warn you though, despite being a great place to visit, there is one thing about The Brampton Pie Company that we found really strange. They will sell you a hot pasty or bacon sarnie, but THEY DO NOT SELL HOT PIES! By this we mean they are not ready to eat there and then - you have to take them home to cook them! This is a very important point, especially if it is lunch time, you have travelled all the way from Gloucester/Birmingham and you have been anticipating a delicious hot pie. We were unable to pin down why this was the case and can only assume it is to do with having to pay VAT on hot food, but at that moment we would both have certainly paid extra to have our pie hot!

SJL picked up the Pierate favourite flavour of Steak and Ale with an Apple and Raspberry for dessert. RAS went for the Chicken, Ham and Leek. Let's see how they rated:


Brampton Pie Company Steak and Ale
6.43/7 
(Pierate Highly Recommended)
SJL


This was an excellent pie, one of the best value pies I have eaten in a long time. Brampton Pie Company's slogan is 'top quality traditional food at fair prices' and I think this pie exemplified the slogan.

Condition – 5.60 out of 7 - The pie arrived in good condition. It was fairly simple to look at but I still thought that it looked really tasty even before I delved in. It has the slightly uneven appearance of a handmade pie.
Steak & Ale Brampton PieColour – 6.60 out of 7 – For me, the mottled glossy golden brown on top of this pie is just what I look for in a good pie. The sides had also browned up a bit.
Cheapness – 6.80 out of 7 – This pie was much larger than most individual pies. At £2.25 it was great value. Top quality steak & ale pies normally retail around £3-£4 and are rarely this big. It was also well filled with steak chunks which is rare at this price. I think I may move to Huntingdon to save money on my pie consumption.
Capacity – 6.50 out of 7 – As I said, this was a large pie for one person to eat. It was fairly tall so it had a good amount of space for filling. It only had a small air gap.
Chewiness – 5.90 out of 7 – The texture of the pastry was perfect, it was crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle. There were plenty of meaty chunks to get your teeth into. For the most part the filling was tender, it only lost some score as I did find a couple of pieces more chewy than I would have liked, but not significantly so.
Content – 6.80 out of 7 – Wow, a really rich meaty sauce filled with meaty chunks. There was also mushroom in the pie which I am not always a fan of but here it worked well and added a bit of variety to the filling. There was a nice flavour to the thick sauce and I was pleased that it wasn't overly salty. I hasn't got a perfect score because whilst it was tasty, it didn't do anything really special in the flavour department, it almost had a slightly 'generic' steak & ale flavour, a flavour similar to so many pies I have eaten before but never normally done this well.
Consistency – 6.80 out of 7 – Filling and pastry came together in beautiful harmony to make this a Pierate Highly Recommended pie. It had many qualities that I would look for in the Ultimate Pie but at a price cheaper than many other pies with similar scores.



Brampton Pie Company Apple and Raspberry
5.39/7 (Pie
rate Recommended)
SJL


Apple & Raspberry Brampton PieCondition – 5.60 out of 7 - Again, a good but simple appearance.
Colour – 4.80 out of 7 – Glossy, melted sugar at the edge but the middle was a little pale for some reason.
Cheapness – 4.90 out of 7 – This pie cost a bit more at £3.50. I ate it all myself but I am guessing it was meant for sharing. It was a bit smaller than your average supermarket family size fruit pie. However, it had a larger capacity than most so was not bad value.
Capacity – 4.80 out of 7 – This pie was tall and had a good amount of filling but the air gap was not insignificant.
Chewiness – 6.00 out of 7 – There were satisfyingly large chunks of apple to get your teeth into, pretty good texture for a fruit pie.
Content – 6.10 out of 7 – A bit on the sour side but it was just the way I like my fruit pies. There weren't a lot of visible bits of raspberry but there was plenty of raspberry taste in the fruity sauce.
Consistency – 5.50 out of 7 - Overall, this pie was quite delicious, the sweet pastry was complemented by the thick fruit sauce. It worked both hot and cold.




Brampton Pie Company Chicken, Ham and Leek
6.07/7 (Pierate Highly Recommended)
RAS


What can I say?! It's very hard to fault such good, affordable pies! Another top quality meat pie from the Brampton Pie Company that once again proves that a quality pie at affordable prices is not just a pie-pe dream but is being delivered! I too couldn't really believe that these pies were just £2.25 for an individual pie when they are packed with up to an incredible 80% meat (40% of the pie's total ingredient). That's right - not the 15-20% meat like many supermarket pies we've had in the past! The Brampton Pie Company clearly put the customer above profits and make a meat pie filled with... well, meat!

Brampton Pie Company Chicken Review
Pies being made in the background of the shop
The pastry was very good, even if the colour of the pie was slightly patchy in places (see photos) and the condition of the pie suffered slightly due to the collapsing of the pastry partly under the weight of all the meat inside! (It should be noted that this pie - because it had to be bought cold, rather than hot, did have to travel to Cambridge and then back to Birmingham before being cooked and eaten, thus the condition bears in mind the slight wear and tear of car travel. I expect the condition would have scored higher had it been provided to me hot in the shop for immediate consumption.) The ham and leek added a bit of a mix to the flavour and the chicken was not chewy.

One slight comment to make is that the chicken meat is chicken thigh meat, rather than the chicken breast that most pie companies would use in their pies. While I don't think this actually had any particular negative to the pie flavour - in some cases thigh meat can be more distinct and flavoursome than breast meat anyway! - this would have to be taken into account when understanding the probable impact it would have on lowering price or allowing a higher meat content. Perhaps, however, more companies should follow this lead and use the thigh meat if it brings down the unit price of a chicken pie?!

Brampton Pie Company Chicken ReviewBrampton Pie Company Chicken Review


The pastry to filling ratio on these sized pies is quoted as being exactly 50-50 (see the white label in the photo) and to be honest this was absolutely fine and in balance. I wouldn't say the filling was the most exciting chicken filling I have ever eaten (it was a simple chicken, ham and leek pie) but let's face it - you can add all the razzmatazz of freshly picked herbs, spices and fresh vegetables flown in from the other side of the world you want, but what I want is a quality pie at an affordable price, and this pie does just that! Great work!

Score: 6.07/7
[Colour 5.5/7; Consistency 6.25/7; Cheapness 6.25/7; Chewiness 6.25/7; Condition 5.75/7; Content 6/7; Capacity 6.5/7; Total: 6.07/7]



Overall you can see these are fabulous pies at very affordable prices, so while it may require a bit of a detour to visit The Brampton Pie Company in Huntingdon we would certainly recommend it! I just want to finish with this quote from their own website, which upon speaking to the staff on our visit clearly sums up their business and why it is so great:

Our dozens of gold awards for excellence, our champions trophies and certificates are all tucked discreetly away . Why? Because we know, and all our staff know, it matters not a jot how many awards we have: we are only as good as our last pie!

SJL and RAS

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Anyone for tennis... pie? Strawberries and Cream Pie Review

It's a great day for tennis fans - it's the final day of Wimbledon! Which means you should very definitely be eating strawberries and cream - preferably in a pie! That's why we're SERVING you up an ACE pie suggestion which we hope will be a real WINNER!!! Having made a number of reci-pies, check out what our Ship's Cook has been up to in the kitchen this weekend:


Strawberries and cream pie review
Why not serve up one of these beauties?
Strawberries and cream pie review
Just make sure you don't drop (shot) these!
My fellow Pierateers have been their usual busy selves on Twitter during Wimbledon, and, not content with the pastryless Wimbledon classic that is strawberries and cream, they asked whether anyone had found any strawberry and cream pies. I'm not sure whether anyone actually did find any, but it was such a great idea that I had to make some myself!

I searched online for strawberry and cream pie recipes and there were lots of versions, but most of them looked more like cheesecakes than pies. So I decided to just go ahead and make my own!


Strawberries and cream pie review
Will they be a winner with you?
The recipe is very simple - shortcrust pastry cases and lids (make these separately and let them cool down before putting the cream anywhere near them because otherwise you'll end up with a melty disaster!) Then whip some double cream and dice some strawberries and assemble your pies!


Strawberries and cream are, obviously, delicious. It turns out that they are just as delicious in a pie - possibly even more delicious because the crispy pastry works really well with them AND it saves you trying to balance bowls or plates while shouting at the tennis!

They are a bit messy to eat though....

The Ship's Cook


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Or why not check out the growing list of all the Ship's Cook Pie Recipe Reviews?

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Friday, 10 July 2015

Rumbledethumps Pie

Whilst the name might sound appealing, sadly this dish is not actually a pie. It is basically a Shepherds pie (or Shepherds potato bake as we would have it be called) but with the plain mash replaced with Rumbledethumps.

Rumbledethumps is a dish from the Scottish Borders which combines fried cabbage and onion with mash potato. Whilst tasty it is certainly NOT A PIE. You have been warned.

Rumbledethumps

Rumbledethumps Pie cross section

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Open Letter to Tesco - Sausage Rolls are NOT pies

Unfortunately it appears Tesco are mis-labelling their sausage rolls as pies in their Dumfries store.


Tesco-SausageRollsNotPies
The offending sign in Tesco Dumfries
It is not simply a case of accidentally putting a packet of sausage rolls on the pie stand - which we realise a customer (rather than staff) could have done.

No - Tesco have put a giant "Fresh Pies" sign directly above an image of two sausage rolls, clearly advocating that they deem sausage rolls to be pies. Cue the...


Open letter to Tesco

I have to admit it takes a lot to shock us aboard the Pierate Ship these days. Pies - our passion and dedication for over five and a half years now - have a tough press. People often mis-label many things as pies - the shepherds pie (which should be a shepherds potato bake), pumpkin pie (which is really a tart), even whole pizzas are called pies in America!

And yet in all my days of pie rating for the web's leading pie reviewing website (www.pierate.co.uk) - which it might be worth pointing out is the number one hit when you Google "Tesco pie review" - and in fact in the 20+ years beforehand growing up, I have NEVER... EVER... seen a sausage roll called a pie before!


May I just take this opportunity to remind you that we run www.pierate.co.uk and not "ratemyroll" or any such thing. We have a readership of over 10,000 readers a month at present and they want to read our PIE reviews, not sausage roll reviews. Similarly, when they shop in a Tesco store, if they want to buy a pie, they want a pie - not a sausage roll.

I'm sure this error will be rectified immediately at the Dumfries Tesco store at which the error was made - and will also be checked at other Tesco stores nationwide to ensure that the same error has not been replicated across the country. Sure, to many of your customers the mis-labelling of a sausage roll as a pie won't be even generate the batting of an eyelid. And for sure it did not ruin our holiday to Scotland last week - just taint it with confusion and bafflement. But I am sure you will understand that we want to promote pies as much as we can and a sausage roll is NOT a pie! Let's face it - it's not called a "Sausage Pie", is it!!!

To help you out here, our Pierate Pie Dictionary clearly states what a true pie actually is:- filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid. A sausage roll does not meet these stringent criteria and never in all my days have I heard someone refer to a sausage roll as a pie before. Of course you are probably aware of our campaign to change pie pub provision, but the selling of top-crust pies has been significantly trumped by this outrageous claim that a sausage roll is a pie! Even the British Pie Awards - who have a far more liberal definition of a pie than us (they have a pasty category, for example) would not consider a sausage roll to be a pie!

As I bring this letter to a conclusion, I hope this has been useful to explain the issues surrounding the mis-labelling of food (we only need to mention "Horsemeat" to kick that off again) and will lead to a correction in your store's advertising. I am happy to speak to you further if you wish to - just email pierateship@yahoo.co.uk to arrange this.

Yours in pie,

Pierateer RAS


I am pleased to say that following this incident in Tesco Dumfries we can confirm that both Sainsburys and Greggs do know what a sausage roll looks like and label them correctly.

Sainsbury's sausage rolls

Gregg's sausage rolls

Feedback from Tesco on Twitter (updated as provided)

We helpfully pointed out to Tesco that they are mis-labelling their products and have received the following replies to date:



Slightly later in the day Tesco had a chance to speak to the Dumfries Store Manager and then had this to report:




We hope that Tesco might be able to send us a photo of the new pie poster when it takes "pie-de" of place in their pie aisle, and we've sent them a request to do so. We will update you with any news!

RAS

We have actually eaten a lot of genuine pies (not sausage rolls) which can be seen in our Pierate Pie Rankings or you can click here for all PIE reviews categorised by shop or flavour.

Where do you stand on the pie v sausage roll debate?
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Sunday, 5 July 2015

Scotch Greggs

Greggs  - Scotch Pie Review

Given the recent campaign to save the macaroni pie from being dropped from the Greggs line up I thought it was about time for a Greggs pie review. As Pierateer RAS has suggested, is it even worth saving their pies when they are not know for being the best quality?

For the biggest bakery chain in the country Greggs have a pretty poor line up. In many stores you won't find any pies, just pasties and slices. In Northern England there are meat and potato pies available and in Scotland you can find Scotch Pies. I am not sure if it is just me but I have often found a lack of Scotch Pies in Greggs Scottish stores. Perhaps they just sell out before I get there. When I have seen them I have avoided them because to be honest I expected them to be pretty ropey. They look quite dried out and my previous experience with Greggs frozen pies put me right off. But on a recent sunny afternoon in Glasgow the time seemed right to grab a Greggs to review after finding a few left over after lunch time in the Trongate store. How will they compare against the other Scotch pies we have rated?



Condition - 2.50 out of 7 - I thought this pie looked pretty terrible, the rim and pastry sides looked dried out. It had a wonky appearance as if it had been made by a child.
Colour - 3.00 out of 7 - This pie had browned up too much in places but in others it was pale and pasty looking.
Cheapness - 5.00 out of 7 - At just £1 this is cheap compared to most hot pies however Scotch Pies are normally cheap. Their small size and fatty meat makes them cheaper to make than other pies.
Capacity - 4.25 out of 7 - Whilst the capacity was limited by the small size of the pie I could not deny it was almost completely filled.
Chewiness - 3.25 out of 7 - The burnt pastry sides and rim were every bit as bad as they looked. They were so dry it was almost impossible to actually take a bite. It was like this pie didn't want to be eaten. Somehow the rest of the pie was really soggy. The filling wasn't at all chewy as it was ground up so fine.
Content - 4.25 out of 7 - I wanted to hate this pie as I sometime perceive Gregg's as driving out smaller bakeries and robbing us of choice (and pies). However, there wasn't too much to criticise in the taste of this pie. It was perhaps too generic and a little salty but it was a typical beef Scotch pie flavour which I enjoy. It was clearly low quality meat as can be seen in the close up pictures, some of it looks pretty disgusting and you wonder what it is actually made of.
Consistency - 3.50 out of 7 - The trouble with many Gregg's products is that they aren't consistent. If you get one which has been sitting in the hot counter for a while it can be dried to a crisp. On this occasion the texture really let this pie down and whilst it wasn't bad I don't feel it is one I could recommend.

It is interesting that Time Out Edinburgh recently ranked all Greggs baked products and the Scotch pie was recently ranked second from bottom. This is perhaps not surprising when Gregg's seem to inexplicably neglect our favourite pastry product. Pie fans be rest assured, we will continue to give Greggs abuse about this as much as we can.


Beef Scotch Pie (Greggs) 
3.68/7

SJL

Update: I contacted Greggs to double check the pie was beef but apparently it is 17% beef and 2% mutton as well as containing Pork lard! The list of spices included is quite impressive, see the ingredients list below. Thank you to Greggs for supplying this information.

Water, Fortified Wheat Flour (Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Beef(17%), Seasoning (Rusk (Wheat), Fortified Wheat Flour (Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Salt, Lactose (Milk), Isolated Soya Protein, Starch, Potato Fibre, Malt Extract (Barley), Spices (Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Coriander, Ginger, White Pepper, Pimento), Pepper Extract), Rapeseed Oil, Palm Oil, Beef Fat, Minced Mutton(2%), Pork Lard (Antioxidant (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract)), Salt, Wheat Flour, Full Fat Soya Flour, Ground Rice, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Proprionate), Starch, Flour Treatment Agent (L-Cysteine)
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Monday, 29 June 2015

The search for more London pie reviews!

The Pierateers are on the search for more London Pie Reviews!


Pierate is a pie review website where we rate pies of all kinds - sweet, meat, even those without the wheat! We rate all the pies, so that you can just eat the best of the best! Combine that with the many people will visit London and wonder where they can get the best pie from and you get the "Best Pies in London Restaurants" article we've regularly updated with the top London pies we've rated. It's even our most viewed article on Pierate now!

London Pie Reviews
The EDF Energy London Pie

Whether it's been the many great pies at Piebury Corner pie deli on Holloway Road - currently top of our London leaderboard - or our recently reviewed Pierate Highly Recommended Steak and Kidney pie at The Windmill, there are plenty of top rated pies in London! So many in fact that we still have so much London pie left to rate!

Which is why we Pierateers, the web's leading pie reviewers and pie experts to the BBC, are looking for some more London pie to rate! Using the rather unimaginative hashtag #LondonPie (to coincide with us turning the London Eye into the London Pie above...) we're on the hunt for more London pies to rate this coming weekend, which will culminate with Pierateers RAS and TJP meeting for a London pie next Monday evening! The question though is where?!

London pie establishments - lend us your pies!

Yes - we're eyeing up the pies and looking to see who wants us to give their pies a rating! Maybe there's a new pie shop or restaurant not yet on our "Best Pies in London Restaurants" list who want to invite us round for a pie rating? Or there might be a pie establishment already on our list who have just released a new pie flavour and want to show it off to the pie eating world, potentially boosting them up the London pie leaderboard? Either way, we're up for some pie and will be looking out for invites to try some pies this coming weekend - and specifically on Monday night!

So if you're a pie seller in London - particularly a restaurant open on Monday night - we'd love to hear from you and come to rate your pies! Just send us a tweet @pierateers!

London Pie-tinery!

Saturday - Not quite sure if there will be pies there or not, but Pierateer RAS is heading to the #USABeerFest at @thegundocklands for a good old 4th of July par-tay, featuring an All-American BBQ! The big question is will there be American pie for dessert?!?! We'll be meeting friend and Honourary Pierateer Ashleigh there too, who is Managing Director of Auld Digital and a big fan of Pierate!
Update: Sadly the American pies desserted us (get it!) but it was still a good BBQ meal and great company!

Sunday - The most likely day for Pierateer RAS to swing by Pierate Highly Recommended pie shop Piebury Corner - looking to rate their sweet pies and get his hands on their British Pie Awards Gold winning Theo Walcott Pie (Jerk Chicken flavour)
Update: Mission accomplished! - I pillaged some great looking pies from Piebury Corner and had a great chat with business owners Paul and Julie. They're closing the shop for a few weeks over July but I can assure you there will be queues out the door when they re-open in time for the Emirates Cup competition! Visit pieburycorner.com for opening hours info.

Monday - It's the big one! Pierateer RAS and TJP are meeting up - and you know that when two Pierateers meet up there is bound to be pie involved! We're planning to visit The Punch Tavern on Fleet Street, where we visited last November and had some top rated pies and gins! Can't wait to try their new pie offerings, including a pastry-based sea food pie and a game pie!
Update: We had two lovely pies from the Punch Tavern - but could they live up to amazingly high standards of last November's offerings? You'll find out soon when we rate them! We also had the two Piebury Corner fruit pies for dessert when we got home.

Tuesday - We've arranged to meet up with pie business owner Dee of Dees Pies fame on Tuesday morning and then shortly after will be meeting pie truck owner (yes, you read that right - PIE TRUCK OWNER) Chris Brumby to find out about his latest pie selling venture - "My Pie". We actually rated one of his pies before the truck had even been bought and he was selling pies to the masses, and that was so good it was Pierate Highly Recommended! Of course it will be rude of us not to try a few more of his pies...
Update: I think I need a bigger suitcase with built in fridge! I was given 10 pies to take home from Dee and Chris, so no pie-rizes for guessing what I'll be eating all this week!!!


On top of all this somehow Pierateer RAS plans to catch up with a few friends and his Goddaughter this weekend too!!! Of course you'll be able to follow our London pie tour using the #LondonPie hashtag all weekend!


You'll see where the pies we end up rating fit in the Pierate Pie Rankings and find other pies of a similar flavour in our Pies Categorised once we have rated them all!

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!

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Friday, 26 June 2015

Wigan Pie Week - Gents (Pepper Lane Pie Shop) Steak Pie Review

This Gents (Pepper Lane Pie Shop) Steak pie review forms part of our #WiganPieWeek set of reviews. This week we are rating 5 pies from Wigan on our 7 Cs of pie rating. Find out more about our quest in our overarching “Wigan Pie Week” article!


Gents (Pepper Lane Pie Shop) Pie Review
Gents (Pepper Lane Pie Shop) Pie Review
Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to a new pie shop I was taken to by “Life of Pies” author Martin Tarbuck. In the Standish area of north Wigan I was taken to Gents bakery, which is known in the area as the sort of place you need to get to early if you want a pie before they sell out (normally at about midday). They had steak, meat and potato or butter pies still available when Martin and I arrived, all at very reasonable prices. A decent sized individual pie, the capacity of this pie was very strong. However while the gravy was quite nice and the meat that I found in the pie was nice and tender, the filling of this pie was padded out with a lot of onion, thick gravy and non-steak, which left me quite disappointed.

This was in addition to the large gap in the top crust pastry, which had led to the filling becoming very dry and congealed at the point of the air gap and therefore spoilt some of the filling. The pastry was quite nice though, with a good bite to it and holding the filling in quite well. The edges were significantly crisper and more golden than the central pastry, but this did hold together more so than some of the other pies I ate in my Wigan trip.

Gents (Pepper Lane Pie Shop) Pie Review
Gents (Pepper Lane Pie Shop) Pie Review

While the actual meat I had in this pie was quite nice and tender, as a steak pie I would expect more. I guess this just indicates that a steak pie at just £1.25 is just too good to be true, and that for a truly top rated steak pie you need to be willing to pay more for it.

Gents (Pepper Lane Pie Shop) Steak Pie
Score: 4.14/7
[Colour 4, Capacity 4, Consistency 3, Condition 4, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 5.5, Content 3.5, Total: 4.14/7]
RAS


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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