Saturday, 23 May 2015

Wembley Pie - Live Blogging

Following the popularity of last week's Pieday Friday Wembley special we've decided to go all out with a live blogging of our trip to Wembley to rate the Wembley pie!


We're going to Wembley! Source: WWFCOfficial Twitter


Wembley Pie Review - Tom's Pies Beef and Spitfire Ale Pie Review


With most eyes on the Wembley pitch for a dramatic 120+ minutes of drama in the League Two play-off final, we have to admit we were almost as excited to be rating the Wembley pies! We had heard they were sold by Tom's Pies but were surprised to see they were quite a different size and design to Tom's pies we had rated before.

Pierateer Rob went for a Beef and Spitfire Ale pie, which at £5 was quite pricey for a slightly small pie but was a bit cheaper than I had feared from some of the reports of Wembley food price inflation! However with average football prices up and down the land being £3.00 it was a significant mark up.

What was clear though was that this was a far better quality of pie than at a number of grounds we've pie rated. I guess I'd rather pay a little more if the pie was better...

First impressions weren't great though, to be honest. The pie was very pale in colour - almost to the point of wondering if it was cooked properly. But it was. And the pastry, while pale, didn't taste too bad despite not being crisp at all. I'd certainly suggest cooking it a bit more. However it was piping hot through.

Speaking of the hot filling, it certainly stung the fingers with its heat when the content unfortunately started leaking out of the other side of the pie from the side I was eating. The condition therefore could of been better and I was very grateful of the cardboard tray the pie was served in, otherwise I would have been covered in hot gravy!

While there wasn't quite enough meat for my liking, the beef I did have was nice and tender. The gravy filling was bulked out a bit with onion but on the whole was reasonably decent in capacity. However the smaller size of the pie meant the filling:pastry ratio was not ideal.

In my mind, I would have this pie again at that price for a football game (which is more than I can say for some football pies I've rated!) but would never expect to pay that much in a shop for a smaller pie like that. Hopefully it would be a bit more crisp and golden too if I cooked it!

Tom's Pies Beef and Spitfire Ale Pie at Wembley Stadium
Score: 4.5/7
[Colour 3, Capacity 5, Consistency 5.5, Condition 3.5, Chewiness 6, Cheapness 3, Content 5.5, Total: 4.5/7]


Pie line up - Chicken Balti on LHS, two Beef and Ale on RHS

Wembley Pie Review - Tom's Pies - Buttery Chicken Balti Pie Review


Pierateer SJL went for the Buttery Chicken Balti pie, here are his thoughts.

I have had a couple of Tom's pies before, including a steak and ale and a spicy cauliflower, both of which were similar to one of the 3 pies to choose from at Wembley. Therefore I went for the different option of the buttery chicken balti. My research tells me that this is a new addition to the Tom's Wembley line up. They ran a competition between a few different pies and the football classic of chicken balti came out on top. This was a good call from Tom's as they certainly seem to know their curry pies well (the spicy cauliflower scored well previously). This pie was Buttery by name and also buttery by nature with a very strong buttery taste to the filling in addition to the buttery taste of the pastry. It wasn't at all hot in terms of chili but it was well seasoned with other spices to make the filling thoroughly enjoyable. However, what let this pie down as a doughy pastry which didn't seem quite cooked. I ended up with epic heartburn through the match. See below for the score breakdown.

Condition - 3.8 out of 7 - The pies on sale at Wembley are not as good looking as the normal Tom's pies, they are fairly boring to look at and look a bit more mass produced. The distinctive vents for Tom's pies are not present. Some of the flaky pastry lid was starting to flake off.
Colour - 4.5 out of 7 - The lid had a nice golden brown but the shortcrust sides were too pale.
Cheapness - 3.0 out of 7 - This pie was quite small so £5 was pretty bad value, even for a football pie. I don't think there is any excuse for a Wembley pie costing more than any other football pie.
Capacity - 4.8 out of 7 - Despite being small this pie was well filled with a thick content and was actually quite satisfying.
Chewiness - 5.5 out of 7 - The shredded chicken in the filling was not at all chewy. There was a good texture to the pie but perhaps some slightly bigger chunks of chicken would have been good.
Content - 5.7 out of 7 - One of the best Chicken Baltis I have found inside a pie. The filling was really well seasoned and had a nice tomato taste. I really like butter so the buttery taste went down well with me, but I can imagine some might find it a little too sickly. I would have liked a bit of chili with this pie, in addition to the other spices.
Consistency - 5.0 out of 7 - They got the thickness of the sauce about right here, this was one you could just about pick up and eat with your hands, although the pastry did start to crumble. Undercooked pastry on the sides and base let the pie down a little. Overall a decent score for a football pie (which can sometimes be a rip off) so it puts Wembley Stadium in the top half of our football pie league.

Chicken Balti (Tom's Pies at Wembley Stadium)
Score: 4.61/7

I was glad that my Dad and Grandad got into the pie reviewing spirit, both having the Beef & Ale pie. However, their choice only made me more pleased with mine as both considered the pie pretty average. My Grandad wasn't impressed by the lack of meat content in his pie although Dad said there were a couple of chunks in his. Despite the result there was plenty of excitement and a good atmosphere. My love of the Chairboys has only increased after the amount of passion the team have displayed this season.


Live Blogging


20.30 - The tension is almost unbearable but the penalties are complete, with a 7-6 win on pens for Southend United. Southend edge it again, after their pie beat Wycombe's earlier in the season! Roll on more football pie reviews next season!!!

20.10 - After a dramatic period of extra time, Wycombe taking the lead followed by a Southend equaliser with almost the last kick of the game, it's gone to pens!

19.30 - It's going to extra time after a 0-0 draw, but sadly the pie kiosk has closed! No more Wembley pies. Sad times!

18.25 - Tried to get a half time chicken balti pie for my dad but there were only vege pies left at half time. Poor pie provision there. Glad I got my pie pre-match!

17.00 - How did it rate then? Well unfortunately it was quite pale and fell apart upon biting into the pie. It had some nice chunks of meat and a good gravy to complement it but certainly have had better beef and ale pies. Considering it was £5 for quite a small pie, I'd buy it again but only at a football ground!

16.48 - Food manager confirms they are Tom's pies - though not the type we have seen before in restaurants/shops.

16.45 - Beef and Spitfire Ale pie picked up for £5.00 - which isn't as expensive as I feared with some of the horror stories about food pricing at Wembley! Thst said it wasn't a big pie so £5 is still more than I'd want to pay for a pie that size.

16.30 - One hour until kick off! We're in the stadium and it's time to join the pie queue!!!

15.25 - Now approaching Wembley Stadium! Can't smell the pies yet though...

14.55 - Here we go then! After a cheeky bacon bap to keep us going until pie o'clock, we're on the train to Wembley Stadium!

12.45 - Almost at Wycombe now and the excitement is building! What will the pies be like on offer at Wembley? How will they rate?

12.15 - Well on our way to Wycombe now, where we are just over 5 hours away from kick off and even less time away from our pre-match pie!

11.45 - Pierateer Sam has been doing some pre-match pie research and thinks there may be a few different pies on offer. We will see!

11.15 - Sam and Rob have got on the train from Birmingham to Wycombe, ready for a pre-Wembley lunch with fellow Blues fans!


Build Up


There's always been a strong link between football and pie. We've highlighted it many a time, including in our "Pies and Football - a match made in heaven" article. We've even created the PIEremiership, to record the half time pies we've eaten at football grounds across the country and you may have spotted our "Best Pie in London Restaurants" article rates football-related pie shop Piebury Corner as our number 1!

We've rated over 500 pies, including a number of football pies
But we have still not been able to rate a pie at the home of football, Wembley Stadium... until now!

With tickets purchased and trains booked, Pierateer Rob and Pierateer Sam are heading to Wembley, with a pre-match pie for this 5:30pm kick off very much on the agenda! Will the pie hit the back of the net? Will it live up to the hype as the pie of choice at the home of football? Will it be well priced or an absolute rip-off, as we have heard it might be? You'll find out RIGHT HERE!

While we wait to find out which pies are sold at Wembley, here are how the pies rate at the respective two clubs home grounds (click on the pie for the full review):

InfoWycombe Wanderers PieScorevsScoreSouthend United Pie
Flavour
Steak and Potato
3.36
-
4.41
Chicken Balti
Company
Phat Pasty Co
Pukka Pies
Where
Adam's Park
Roots Hall


Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
And speaking of rip off pies, you may well have seen that Pierateer Rob was called upon by BBC One hit show "Rip Off Britain" to give his expert pie opinion recently on football pies. You can find out more about what he said by visiting our Rip Off Britain: Football Pies article.

And if you want to find out more about the match winning pies they sell at Morecambe FC, currently top of our PIEremiership, you can see both Head Chef Graham and ourselves in a video on the BBC Sport website talking football pies!
continue reading "Wembley Pie - Live Blogging"

Friday, 22 May 2015

Pieday Friday - Wembley Pie Update - 22nd May 2015



It's Friday! It's Pieday!

Following the popularity of last week's Pieday Friday Wembley special we've got an update for you!


We're going to Wembley! Source: WWFCOfficial Twitter
Pierateers should be rating pie at Wem-ber-ley!

There's always been a strong link between football and pie. We've highlighted it many a time, including in our "Pies and Football - a match made in heaven" article. We've even created the PIEremiership, to record the half time pies we've eaten at football grounds across the country and you may have spotted our "Best Pie in London Restaurants" article rates football-related pie shop Piebury Corner as our number 1!

We've rated over 500 pies, including a number of football pies
But we have still not been able to rate a pie at the home of football, Wembley Stadium... until now! Or will we???

Could the Germans put a halt to Wembley Pie Rating?!

With tickets purchased and trains booked, Pierateer Rob and Pierateer Sam will head to Wembley on Saturday 23rd May, with a pre-match pie for this 5:30pm kick off very much on the agenda! Will the pie hit the back of the net? Will it live up to the hype as the pie of choice at the home of football? Will it be well priced or an absolute rip-off, as we have heard it might be? You'll find out on www.pierate.co.uk!

Unless, that is, the Germans have their way! For you may have heard the news reports emerging of an unexploded World War Two bomb being found just metres away from the Home of English Football. While it was expected that the bomb will be made safe and removed from the site in time for kick off, the Pierateers were anxiously waiting to get the all clear to head down to Wembley on Saturday! Surely the Germans can't stop us enjoying the BIG MATCH and a Wembley pie!!!

Fortunately it appears not! The bomb, we are reliably informed, has been removed and the only explosive action should be that which is happening on the pitch (and hopefully not our pie filling exploding all over us!!!)

Regarding the game itself, it's probably one of the worst kept secrets on Pierate that we are Wycombe Wanderers fans and we are delighted to announce that Wycombe Wanderers are going to Wembley! They beat Plymouth in the League Two playoffs to join Southend United in the final. Those who know the Pierateers well will know we also have a soft spot for Southend, with Pierateer Rob having been born in Southend and regular trips made to Southend-on-Sea in the past, making this a dream final for the lads! We even had our 500th pie in Southend-on-Sea back in March, the day after watching Southend v Wycombe!

While we wait to find out which pies are sold at Wembley, here are how the pies rate at the respective two clubs home grounds (click on the pie for the full review):

InfoWycombe Wanderers PieScorevsScoreSouthend United Pie
Flavour
Steak and Potato
3.36
-
4.41
Chicken Balti
Company
Phat Pasty Co
Pukka Pies
Where
Adam's Park
Roots Hall


Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
And speaking of rip off pies, you may well have seen that Pierateer Rob was called upon by BBC One hit show "Rip Off Britain" to give his expert pie opinion recently on football pies. You can find out more about what he said by visiting our Rip Off Britain: Football Pies article.

And if you want to find out more about the match winning pies they sell at Morecambe FC, currently top of our PIEremiership, you can see both Head Chef Graham and ourselves in a video on the BBC Sport website talking football pies!


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in a future Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "Pieday Friday - Wembley Pie Update - 22nd May 2015"

Monday, 18 May 2015

Is it Times for a change in pub pie provision?

The Times newspaper reported over the weekend about the decline in pub food sales, as a result of saturation in the market place from "casual dining" establishments such as Nando's and fast food outlets. It proposed that pub chains were becoming increasingly picky when choosing future sites and that pub food sales were under threat. But one reader - Ken McDuff - thinks he has worked out why the pub food market is in jeopardy - and thinks it's pie time things changed...


Stew with a pastry lid pie review
Stew with a pastry lid
In his letter to The Times editor, Ken refers to the diminishing quality of pub food - and in particular focuses on the poor pie provision from a lot of establishments, looking to make a quick buck by providing just a stew with a pastry lid:

"Dare I suggest that a contributory factor to this decline is the lazy approach of certain pubs to the disgusting way they serve the ever popular (or it used to be) steak and ale pie."

He goes on to state that often the pastry lid "has only met the meat seconds before serving" - though in some cases we have found that the pastry "lid" is in fact a completely separate piece of pastry to the stew and has NEVER met the meat, but simply been plonked on top of a ceramic dish without always covering the content of the bowl satisfactorily!

Ken concludes by saying that "it might be helpful if a name could be found for this combination of meat and pastry, but pie it certainly is not."

I think Ken could be trying to get a job on the Pierate Ship with such a thought through and well argued dismissal of the top crust stew with a pastry lid that, sadly, so many pubs up and down the land provide. What often makes this worse in our minds is that so many pub menus do not distinguish whether it is a proper pie - defined by us as "filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid" - or just a stew with a pastry lid. At times even the waiter or waitress do not seem to understand the importance of this distinction, claiming a stew with a lid is a "proper pie" when quizzed by us and our fellow pie eaters. Surely times have to change?

Fortunately some pubs, such as The Windmill, sell fully encased pies

I think my response to Ken's question of a name is to say it as it is. To call a spade a spade. To mention on the menu that a stew with a pastry lid is "a stew with a pastry lid"!

Why re-invent the wheel? Why trick fans of the fully encased pie into purchasing a non-fully encased in pastry stew with pastry lid?

Of course Ken and the Pierateers are not the only ones to be outraged by this phenomenon, as attested to by Colin V Young's response to Ken's letter and an e-petition calling for criminal charges against establishments who call on these stews "pies", which was launched over a year ago and has been reported on by many national newspapers.

Pie Rating 7 Cs
Condition and Capacity are severely compromised in a "stew with pastry lid"
Our view on the Pierate Ship is clear - that for a proper pie it has to be filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid. That's the only way you can challenge for top marks on board the Pierate Ship. Anything else is not a proper pie, and will be heavily criticised while giving it a rating on the 7 Cs of pie rating.

You'll be pleased to know we clearly label all "stews with a pastry lid" as such in our pub pie reviews on the web's leading pie review website. Let's hope that - for the sake of pub pie provision nationwide - pubs start doing likewise!

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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Is it Times for a change in pub pie provision?"

Friday, 15 May 2015

Pieday Friday - Gluten Free and Wembley Special - 15th May 2015



It's Friday! It's Pieday!



It's been about a month since our last Pieday Friday to celebrate the upcoming British Pie Awards, which we were delighted to judge and live blog at, but with so many more exciting pie developments since then we couldn't resist a cheeky pie news round-up!


We're going to Wembley! Source: WWFCOfficial Twitter
Pierateers will be rating pie at Wem-ber-ley!

There's always been a strong link between football and pie. We've highlighted it many a time, including in our "Pies and Football - a match made in heaven" article. We've even created the PIEremiership, to record the half time pies we've eaten at football grounds across the country and you may have spotted our "Best Pie in London Restaurants" article rates football-related pie shop Piebury Corner as our number 1!

We've rated over 500 pies, including a number of football pies
But we have still not been able to rate a pie at the home of football, Wembley Stadium... until now!

It's probably one of the worst kept secrets on Pierate that we are Wycombe Wanderers fans and we are delighted to announce that Wycombe Wanderers are going to Wembley! They beat Plymouth in the League Two playoffs to join Southend United in the final. Those who know the Pierateers well will know we also have a soft spot for Southend, with Pierateer Rob having been born in Southend and regular trips made to Southend-on-Sea in the past, making this a dream final for the lads! We even had our 500th pie in Southend-on-Sea back in March, the day after watching Southend v Wycombe!

While tickets are not quite in the bag yet, we can't wait to get our hands on them and head to Wembley on Saturday 23rd May, with a pre-match pie for this 5:30pm kick off very much on the agenda! Will the pie hit the back of the net? Will it live up to the hype as the pie of choice at the home of football? Will it be well priced or an absolute rip-off, as we have heard it might be? You'll find out on www.pierate.co.uk!

Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
Speaking of rip off pies, you may well have seen that Pierateer Rob was called upon by BBC One hit show "Rip Off Britain" to give his expert pie opinion recently on football pies. You can find out more about what he said and view the show on BBC iplayer by visiting our Rip Off Britain: Football Pies article.

And if you want to find out more about the match winning pies they sell at Morecambe FC, currently top of our PIEremiership, you can see both Head Chef Graham and ourselves in a video on the BBC Sport website talking football pies!


New Gluten Free Pie Reviews page!

On the Pierate Ship we recognise that gluten free pastry requires great skill and can be even more complex than standard gluten pastry, so we want to acknowledge all the hard work put in to produce pies for those who cannot eat gluten.

Since 4th October 2013 we have had a gluten free pie reviewer aboard the Pierate Ship, in the form of Pierateer ALE. As a coeliac she has rated a range of gluten free pies in that time and we now have enough to make a dedicated Gluten Free Pie Reviews page! We hope all our gluten free pie fans will enjoy it, as we develop it over the coming months with more gluten free pies we rate!

You may also be interested to know it is Coeliac Awareness Week 2015 this week (11-17th May).


Tweet of the Week - David Beckham loves pies!

It's no secret that David Beckham loves the pies at Tony's Pie and Mash Shop, near where David grew up in London. This week David, who has now turned 40, was once again featured in the papers sharing his love of pie and mash. Now he's no longer playing football, it's good to know David can tuck into the pies at his leisure! Back of the net!

While David already features in our "Celebrities who love pie" article, we've just added the following photo:



500 Pie Reviews for the Pie-fessionals at Pierate!

We won't bang on about it too much more, as you probably have to have been living on another planet to miss that we have just reached 500 pie reviews on the web's leading pie review website!

You can view them all in our updated Pierate Pie Rankings table and we marked the occasion with a little "500 Pies Press Release" to sum up just a few of the pie-lights of the first five and a half years on board the Pierate Ship!


If you have a story you think would be good to feature in a future Pieday Friday, send us an email at pierateship@yahoo.co.uk or contact us on Twitter @pierateers 
continue reading "Pieday Friday - Gluten Free and Wembley Special - 15th May 2015"

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Can you find a bargain steak pie in Aldi?

Aldi’s Crestwood Steak Pie and Steak and Kidney Pie Reviews


We were asked recently on twitter if there were any pies under £1 that we would recommend on the Pierate Ship and while there are some boxes of fruit pies that sprung to mind, I struggled to think of any £1 meat pies I’d had that were worth a recommendation, bar the odd Scotch Pie we bought on visits to Scotland. However that doesn’t mean to say it was impossible! After all, we’re looking to find the perfect pie, and if a meat pie tasted great and cost just £1 then it should be very high up in our Pierate Pie Rankings (which now boast over 500 reviews).

The meat pies I had from Aldi on Day One of British Pie Week were just 99p… so could these be the solution to our cheap but tasty meat pie queries?

Aldi Crestwood Steak Pies Review
Aldi Crestwood Steak Pies Review

In a word… No! Unfortunately while there were a few positives to these pies from Crestwood, overall I did not enjoy eating them and would not consider buying them ever again. They were certainly 99p for a reason!

Aldi Crestwood Steak Pies Review
Aldi Crestwood Steak Pies Review
Aldi Crestwood Steak Pies Review
Steak pie content
The pastry, while reasonable looking on top and edible, didn’t take long to become a chore to eat. The side pastry was almost anaemic looking and not tasty. I was unsure how the side pastry could be so pale in comparison to the darker puff pastry lid. However it was the meat content that most let down these pies, with both being quite filled but having very chewy meat and large pieces of gristle. Unfortunately there was only so much of these pies I could withstand, which is not good news for their pie rating! While I know they were value pies, I struggled to find many positives to these pies, even at just 99p. Perhaps the one positive was that they were just about edible, with a nice enough gravy. Just need to improve on the pastry and meat content!

Aldi’s Crestwood Steak Pie
Aldi’s Crestwood Steak and Kidney Pie
Score: 2.21/7
[Colour 2.5, Capacity 3, Consistency 2, Condition 2.5, Chewiness 1, Cheapness 3.5, Content 1, Total: 2.21/7]
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.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Can you find a bargain steak pie in Aldi?"

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Wright Stuff

Wrights - Chicken & Mushroom Pie Review

Local, independent convenience shops can be a bit of a treasure trove for new pies to review. They often stock different pie brands compared to the run of the mill ones you find in a supermarkets and sometimes they have local brands. It is particularly worth checking out the convenience shops when in an area away from home. This was the case on the way to the train station after Pierateer RAS and myself spent the day pretending to be Northampton Town fans. St. James Superstore caught my eye. Given how small it was I wondered how it could justify the name 'Superstore'. Venturing inside, it was even smaller than I thought and I was surprised when RAS actually spotted a pie. That's right, there was literally just one pie in the shop. However, it was one we hadn't rated before, a Wrights Chicken & Mushroom. Whilst Wrights are a big pie company in some parts of the country, they are not so big where the Pierateers live. We have only previously reviewed their Chicken Balti football pie. At just £1.29 this Chicken & Mushroom pie was more of a 'standard' pie, in the classic oval shape that these cheaper pies often come. I didn't expect much for the price, so I was pleasantly surprised by this pie, for the price it represented quite good value for money.

Wrights Chicken & Mushroom Pie


Condition - 4.0 out of 7 - The pie had become slightly squashed in my bag which I won't hold against it. It looked okay but the appearance was very much 'nothing special'.
Colour - 4.0 out of 7 - A decent golden brown on the top but a bit dull to look at.
Cheapness - 5.2 out of 7 - For £1.29 this is pretty cheap for an individual pie. In this case there was enough meaty chunks to make it seem good value.
Capacity - 4.0 out of 7 - A standard trick with these oval shaped pies is that the base is narrower than the top. This allows the manufacturer to save on filling. However, for this pie it was well filled which meant it had a decent pastry to filling ratio.
Chewiness - 5.5 out of 7 - The pie was soft but there were good size chicken chunks to get my teeth into. There was no grissle. The pastry had a good crispyness to the outside and softness on the inside.
Content - 4.5 out of 7 - The content was really a bit generic, a standard chicken and mushroom pie taste. In this case the chicken seemed good quality which made it better than average.
Consistency - 4.0 out of 7 - The sauce was extremely thick which meant this pie could be eaten with the hands if needed. However, it was bit stodgy to ever get a very high score.

Wrights Chicken & Mushroom Pie

Chicken & Mushroom (Wrights)
4.46/7

SJL
continue reading "The Wright Stuff"

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Corn on the Cobblers

Northampton Town FC/The Pie Factory - Steak & Ale Pie Review

Given that our team, Wycombe, had a chance (albeit slim) to get promoted from League Two  Piearateers RAS and SJL headed over to Northampton Town for the final match of the season. Sixfields is a bit of a hole, quite literally, or at least it is in a bit of a hole. It is a new stadium which has for some reason been built in a dip, with banked grass verges all around. It is on the edge of town in a charming retail-park-cum-empty-wasteland area.
Northampton Town Football Pie
SJL went for the 'double pie', in front is the Chicken Balti

This was also a good opportunity to review a new football pie to add to our ever increasing (but still quite small) football pie league (The Pieremiership). Pierate takes us all over the place and there have been many unexpected things happen as a result of our love of pies. For instance Pierateer RAS was recently on the BBC talking about football pies. However, we hadn’t expected that we would have to pretend to be Northampton Town supporters for the day. Sixfields is having a stand rebuilt so there is a lack of space at the moment. Hence the away end was sold out but we picked up two tickets for the home end. Having heard that away fans would be ejected, we kept a low profile. What we hadn’t expected was that we would be sat next to a lovely, chatty Northampton Town fan. Once we had started pretending to be Northampton fans it was soon too late to come clean. It was surprisingly easy to blag it and I think we managed be fairly convincing Northampton supporters. This post is named after one of the best chants we heard on the day 'Corn on the Cobblers', it was from a 10 year old.
Northampton Town Football Pie
The Pie Factory Chicken Balti

The pies in question were apparently made by ‘The Pie Factory’ which was a company we hadn’t come across before. Pierateer RAS opted for the Steak & Ale and Pierateer SJL went for the ‘double pie’ combo of Steak & Ale and a Chicken Balti (he said it was because they didn't have chips but perhaps he is just greedy?). They looked good but were ultimately disappointing and certainly won't be challenging at the top of the Pieremiership. See below for the score breakdown for the Steak & Ale. The Chicken Balti looked identical to the Wright's Chicken Balti pie which was reviewed at Cambridge. They were certainly branded differently so this is strange, we are currently investigating the situation but no review will be given for now. In case you're wondering, SJL went for the Steak & Ale first, then the Chicken Balti which seemed like the most sensible approach.

 
Condition – 4.25 out of 7 - Looked pretty appealing, nice and tall. Looked crispy.
Colour – 4.25 out of 7 – Quite golden on top but sides pale, a bit matt rather than glossy.
Cheapness – 3.50 out of 7 – £3.10 is slightly above average for League Two and for a pie without a lot of filling this didn’t feel like good value.  
Northampton Town Football Pie
The Pie Factory Steak & Ale
Capacity – 3.25 out of 7 – Quite tall and big capacity but sadly there was a large airgap at the top. Whilst it looked like it would be satisfying, overall there was an air of disappointment. I would prefer a smaller pie without the airgap.
Chewiness – 3.75 out of 7 – Pastry texture was a bit weird, soft and a bit ‘bready’. Not much chewiness to the meat, but there wasn’t a lot of it.
Content – 3.50 out of 7 – It was nice that the ale was noticeable but was a little too sour. The meat that was there was nice enough but severely lacking. This was more of a gravy pie!
Consistency – 3.00 out of 7 – With the soft pastry and liquid filling this pie just didn’t quite work. Sadly a stodgy affair, which, whilst it didn’t taste bad would only be worth eating again in a situation where no other pies are available.

Wycombe got the win they needed with a winner in injury time, however, it wasn’t enough given that Bury won at Tranmere to clinch the last automatic promotion place. Here’s hoping we make Wembley via the play-offs.

Steak & Ale (Northampton Town FC/The Pie Factory) 
3.64/7 

SJL/RAS
continue reading "Corn on the Cobblers"

Friday, 1 May 2015

Pies for Sail at The Windmill

The Windmill, Mayfair - Steak & Kidney Pie Review

There are some places with great reputations for pies but for whatever reason it takes us a long time to get there to review them. The Windmill is one such place. It is in Mayfair, London and with all the other London pies we have reviewed, why is it not one of them?! However, it has eluded us for some time, in part because their restaurant is closed for much of the weekend, so I was excited to finally pay them a visit on Day Four of British Pie Week 2015.
 
The Windmill Mayfair

What a time to visit. The Windmill seemed quite busy but when it is a pub with a specific 'Pie Room' of course it would be busy in British Pie Week! The Windmill had really got into the spirit of British Pie Week with a competition. If you could eat 5 different pies in the week you would get a 6th pie free, along with a t-shirt! I have eaten a lot of pies during British Pie Week in the past, but even I was surprised at this high requirement. But apparently there are some people who manage it!

The Windmill Mayfair
Rosa is a long time Pierate supporter
The Windmill is one of those places that will get any pie fan excited. The Lower Pie Room (yes, there are actually two pie rooms, eat your heart out Newman Arms!) where I was eating was a bit of shrine to pies and they seem to be particularly proud of their Steak & Kidney pie. There were pictures and placemats all proclaiming it as a 'Champion Steak & Kidney Pie' and 'Three times national winner'. I was unsure what award it had actually won, but they certainty seemed confident in the Steak & Kidney's quality. There was a whole menu devoted to pies and some interesting flavours. Haggis was tempting but in the end I thought I had to see what all the fuss was about and ordered the Steak & Kidney. Could it challenge near the top of our best pies in London ranking?

Firstly, I was delighted when this pie came out and it was fully encased in pastry. This was the pie experience I had been hoping for. Pierateer RAS and myself had visited The Windmill's sister pub (The Guinea Grill) in 2012 and found the pies were top-crusts. Not a hint of that here though.
The pie came served on a long rectangular plate, with nicely presented mash and veg. The pie did not look particularly large or spectacular, but I think the wonderful, crispy, golden pastry hinted at something quite special. It is amazing what a good glaze can do to a pie.

Slicing into the pie revealed there were two different aspects to the pastry, the crispy outside cracked to reveal predominately soft gooey pastry inside. The pie was packed with a thick, rich meaty filling which, happily for me, did not taste too strongly of kidney. What delighted me most was the fact that they had used suet crust pastry. I think this gives a wonderful taste to the pastry as well as a rich meaty flavour to the whole product, as with Paul's pies which we so highly regard. In fact this was very similar to Paul's Pies but with softer pastry.
Windmill Mayfair Steak & Kidney Pie
How did it rate? I would straight away put this as the best Steak & Kidney pie I have ever had. The meal was small for the £12.50 price but I found it filling. Whilst it might be more expensive than some, for the quality, the location and the overall experience I considered the price was decent value. I am very keen to go back and try some more of The Windmill pies. See the score breakdown below. Overall the score of 6.25 puts this second on our list of best London restaurant pies, quite an achievement given how many places we have reviewed. It also means this pie gains 'Pierate Highly Recommended' status and slots in inside our Top 30 pies as the top Steak & Kidney pie.

Condition – 5.50 out of 7 – The presentation of the meal looks gourmet but the pie itself is unassuming in appearance.
Colour – 6.95 out of 7 – Am I allowed to give a perfect 7? I just can't imagine a better colour, this is what made me realise the pie would be great.
Cheapness – 5.40 out of 7 – It is better to have a small, really good pie than loads of a really bad pie (cf the pie which made me sick)
Capacity - 6.50 out of 7 - The domed lid indicated a strong amount of filling. No real air gap to speak of.
Chewiness - 6.50 out of 7 - Soft and moist beef, the texture was super. If anything the texture of the pastry was a little too soft and it lacked the structure I would expect from the ultimate pie.
Content - 6.30 out of 7 - Rich and meaty but I can't get away from the fact that Kidney isn't my favourite...
Consistency - 6.60 out of 7 - It worked extremely well with the suet pastry complementing the beefy filling. Whilst there wasn't much to criticise this pie for, could another flavour challenge the top of our pie charts?

After the meal it was very nice of the manager, Karl, to come over from The Guinea Grill to talk to us. He seemed pretty passionate about pies and creating new flavours. I suspected that the pie flavours written on the chalk board could be subject to change based on his latest creations. I also learnt that The Windmill use the same pie filling recipes as The Guinea Grill, however, they just choose not to fully encase them at The Guinea (madness!). I did also get to the bottom of the issue about the awards their Steak & Kidney pie had won. Apparently, it was a now defunct Steak & Kidney pie award in London and the three wins were over a decade ago, before the British Pie Awards had even started! It may seem that this is somewhat living on past glories but they have certainly not rested on their laurels. This is still a great pie and with a changing pie menu, I would certainly recommend a visit to The Windmill.

Note: We have suggested to Karl to enter the British Pie Awards but he says that because the pies have to be pre-cooked, it wouldn't work with his suet pastry very well. Perhaps it's about time there was a restaurant pie award as part of the BPA or elsewhere?

Steak & Kidney (The Windmill [W1S 2AZ])
6.25/7

SJL
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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

We visited the British Pie Awards, and it was glorious! PHOTOS

In case you've been living under a rock for the past week (or simply not following the @pierateers Twitter feed), you'll know last Wednesday was the momentous British Pie Awards. Attracting entries of over 800 pies across 20 different classes, this truly was pie-lovers heaven. We've already written quite extensively about the British Pie Awards in the past, but to truly give you a taste of what it's like to be there, here are some photos of the glorious event.

SPOILER ALERT: There were a lot of pies.

Melton Mowbray is considered by many to be the "home of the pie"
The judging gets underway in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray.

The specialty class this year was "Bridal Pies"

Would you have this spectacular bridal pie at your wedding?

Judges at the pork pie class


The pork pie class basks in the sunshine
Delicious cold meat pies

Judging the dessert pies. This category provided last year's Supreme Champion.

Unfortunately there was a pasty category. And someone had to judge it

Back to the pies. Glorious, glorious pies.

Pie judging is taken very seriously

No part of the pie is left unexamined

The judges take a good look at a pork pie
The most prestigious category, the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie table, with judge an d TV chef Andy Bates
Melton Mowbray is, of course, famous for its pork pies
Pies lose marks for "boil out"
The judges examine a pie closely
The judges slice open a pie at the savoury pie table

Food writer Xanthe Clay slices open a bridal pie

Yummy, yummy pies

Everywhere you look, more pies. So many pies!
Inside a bridal pie

I would eat all of these pies

Bye bye Melton Mowbray, see you again next year!

Note: you can use the photos on this page under a creative commons use (even commercially). However, please credit as pierate.co.uk. If you would like higher resolution stills, please email us pierateship@yahoo.co.uk.

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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continue reading "We visited the British Pie Awards, and it was glorious! PHOTOS"