Monday, 12 October 2015

Square Pie try something different with Rugby World Cup!

Square Pie's Rugby Pie World Cup in Grand Central Shopping Centre, Birmingham

Square Pie Rugby Pie World Cup Review
Square Pie Rugby Pie World Cup Review

Here at Pierate HQ we’re always big fans of a pie-motion, like the tie in of the Rugby World Cup happening in England with the “Rugby Pie World Cup” happening down at Square Pie right now!

The idea is pretty simple – there’s a new pie to represent each of the 20 competing nations in the Rugby World Cup 2015, which are trying to be crowned the Pie World Cup Champion! Just like the competing rugby nations, the pies are being put through their paces and pitted against each other in a group phase and eventual knock out com-pie-tition, based on pie sales. Intriguing flavours include Chicken Teriyaki for Japan, Springbok Sausage for South Africa and Moose for Canada! It’s also great to see money being raised for the Dallaglio Foundation as part of the contest. More info can be found on the Square Pie website.

Square Pie Rugby Pie World Cup Review
Eyes on the pies!
As you may have read from my live blogging recently, a new Square Pie outlet has opened up in Birmingham’s newest shopping centre – Grand Central. Based above the main New Street train station in the heart of Birmingham, it’s great to have an established and Pierate Recommended pie brand such as Square Pie in the centre of the city. I got invited along to try three of the Pie World Cup hopefuls recently to see how they pie rated and these are my thoughts:

Overall The pastry on all three of these pies held together well, all passing the hand-held test (even if the Steak and Ale was a bit less firm than the others due to the more liquid filling making the base pastry a bit softer). I was impressed that none of these had soggy bottoms though, particularly with the gravy in the steak and ale. The pastry lid was particularly flaky and crisp on all three. There was a bit of a pastry overhang on the lids of these pies and by the time you got to the corners of the pies there was a bit too much pastry to filling – but there’s not really a way of avoiding this in a square product and this doesn’t detract much from the overall enjoyment.

All these special Rugby World Cup pies are the same price as their standard pie range, which I think is quite commendable seeing as, being quite unique flavours, they would be made in smaller, less frequent batches. However at £4.50 for just a pie or £6.50 for a classic meal (pie and 2 regular sides or pie and one large side) prices them as a bit expensive for just a hot pie or meal takeaway, but a reasonably priced option for a restaurant pie. It has to also be remembered that you are in the heart of Birmingham, minutes away from the central train station. There is very much a takeaway vibe to the Grand Central Square Pie shop, with food served in a box to go or eat in their array of seating – both useful options for those using the pie shop to ‘grab and go’ before getting a train. I know I will be!

Square Pie Wales Rugby Pie Review
Wales - Rugby Pie World Cup Review
Wales: Cheese, Leek and Potato (Vegetarian)

There were big potato chunks in the pie, which were quite well cooked, soft and tasty without being mushy. The cheese was noticeable and added flavour alongside the leek, but could have been a bit stronger. There wasn’t really anything to get your teeth into with this pie though, as a result of the potato being quite soft alongside the cheese and leek. This and the runny sauce contrasted quite strongly with the crisp pastry. Slightly smaller chunks of potato and a bit more cheese would have improved this pie a bit. A decent vegetarian pie but quite a standard flavour.

Square Pie Cheese, Leek and Potato Pie
Score: 4.68/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 4.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 4.25, Cheapness 4, Content 4.5, Total: 4.68/7]

Square Pie Fiji Rugby Pie Review
Square Pie Fiji Goat Curry Rugby Pie Review
Fiji: Fijian Goat Curry

One of the more unique flavours in the Rugby Pie World Cup, the Goat Curry pie was an interesting one to get my hands on! I’d only had a goat pie once before but that was in a gravy based pie, so the goat curry pie was a lot more dry in comparison to that. The ingredients in the pie apart from the meat were quite moist but there was no real sauce, which meant that the dryness of the meat was quite evident. This isn’t that surprising given my prior experience with goat, which is quite fatty but chewy and quite a dry meat, but this perhaps could have been factored into the pie filling. The meat was also in quite large chunks, which would have been better served spread out in more, smaller chunks in my opinion.

The curry flavour was quite mild but added some flavour. I recognise goat is not the easiest meat to prepare well and overall didn’t mind this pie flavour, but a bit more flavour and leaner, tender meat would improve the pie rating.

Square Pie Fijian Goat Curry Pie
Score: 4.29/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 4.5, Consistency 3.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 3.5, Cheapness 4, Content 4, Total: 4.29/7]

Square Pie England Rugby Pie Review
Square Pie England Steak and Ale Rugby Pie Review
England: Dallaglio Foundation Steak and Ale

The steak and ale pie is a classic English flavour, so it’s no sur-pies to see the English pie filled with it. There’s no denying it is a flavour we love here on the Pierate Ship, but that does mean with so many good steak pies eaten the bar is very high. However it was a good hearty effort, with a significant ale flavoured gravy. The gravy was very runny though, which did seem to make the pastry less crisp and sag slightly under the moisture. It was still able to be picked up by hand though, with a fair bit of steak and other filler such as onion to bulk it out. A bit more steak, which was slightly less chewy, and a lower viscosity gravy would raise this even higher up the rankings but still Pierate Recommended.

Square Pie Steak and Ale Pie
Score: 5.07/7
[Colour 5.25, Capacity 5.5, Consistency 5.25, Condition 5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 4, Content 5.5, Total: 5.07/7]

Overall, we’re delighted there is a great new pie shop in the centre of Birmingham and the Rugby Pie World Cup is an ingenious idea to boost the range of pies on sale at Square Pie. With the board on the wall in the Birmingham shop celebrating the 127 flavours of pies made since 2001 – though now needing a massive overhaul following the 20 new types of pie during this Rugby Pie World Cup alone! – it seems clear pies are in good hands at Square Pie!

Grand Central Birmingham Pie Shop
Grand Central in Birmingham City Centre, home to Square Pie shop

Thank you to Square Pie for hosting us for this Rugby World Cup Pie-Off in Birmingham. We'd already bought and rated Square Pie as Pierate Recommended as we celebrated eating our 100th rated pie there down in London back in 2012, and in 2013 we rated their Chicken, Leak and Wiltshire Ham pie at 5.58/7, which was another Pierate Recommended effort.


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 "Square Pie try something different with Rugby World Cup!"

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Sad Case of Base-Overbake

Eat Beef and Ale pie review

Did you know? The Eat chain of restaurants sells fully-encased pies! Joyous, joyous news!

I headed down to the Eat store in Camden Town, London, to see what delights were on offer.

And here it is: a beef and ale pie. It set me back around £4.50 (I can't remember the exact price, I'm afraid...) - which for one take-away pie with no side orders is rather expensive.

But at least this is a fully-encased pie, so that's a plus.

The pie is of reasonable size and looks quite pretty in the box. It has a nice golden colour to the lid, with a perfectly even colour across the whole of the top of the pie. There is no boil-out and the pie looks like it is in good condition.

On opening up the pie, there is some airgap but overall this pie looks well filled. There's certainly a decent amount of meat in there - can't complain about that. The filling looks adequately moist with no need for any additional gravy.

But it's when I try and cut all the way through the pie that I realise there's a problem. Why am I having such difficulty cutting through the base??

I flip the pie over and find the MAJOR issue with this pie. The base is so overbaked it is practically a solid, unbreakable, inedible block of pastry!! I tried to tear a bit of this base off so I could try and eat it - but there was no way I was going to be able to eat the whole of this base! This pie, for me, was a DNF (Did Not Finish)!

In fairness to Eat, their customer service representative on Twitter seemed just as appalled as I was with the base of this pie. They have offered me a free replacement pie, which hopefully I'll cash in on soon (and report back on whether there's been any improvement on how they bake their pies in store). I'm sure this can't be a store-wide problem - otherwise Eat are doing this pie business all wrong. Let us know whether you've had any similar experiences with pies at Eat.

The rest of the pie was actually quite pleasant, if you ignored the base. The filling was pretty flavourful, and the meat was tasty and not chewy. I can certainly see why this pie obtained a silver award at the British Pie Awards. However, for nearly £5 for the pie, I think there are better hot takeaway pie options out there.

Because of the issue with the base - and the resulting DNF - this pie is going to score rather lowly. You might think this seems a bit unfair (since this could be a one-off problem), but I have to rate the pie that's in front of me. In my opinion, I should never have been served this pie.

Eat Beef and Ale Pie
Score: 3.2/7
continue reading "A Sad Case of Base-Overbake"

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Pierate Pillage Pirates

Bristol Rovers Football Club/Vili's Pie Reviews

Last night the Pierateers set sail for Bristol to pillage some pies from Bristol Rovers Football Club. It would have been nice to think that the large Pirate flag hanging up at the Memorial Stadium was in honour of our visit, but sadly it was because Bristol Rovers count 'The Pirates' amongst their various nicknames. But it did mean we felt quite at home despite it being an away ground. Pierateer Rob even grabbed a picture with the Pirate mascot. But did the experience leave us sick as parrots or did we unearth some buried treasure?

Bristol Pie Meal DealBristol Pierate

It was the big match, Bristol were playing us (Wycombe Wanderers) in the Johnston's Paint Trophy 2nd round. The most minor of competitions, the Football League Trophy somehow continues to exist despite a relentless indifference from pretty much everyone involved in it. The BBC can't even be bothered to write up match reports. In some ways it is good to get knocked out early rather risk injuries to a small squad. But then I would say that having seen Wycombe knocked out in fairly routine fashion! Two goals from Rovers in the first 11 minutes was always going to be difficult to come back from. Bristol somehow produced some good passing football despite missing their Gibraltar and Wales Under-21 internationals which has led to the shock postponement of their forthcoming meeting with Wycombe in the League. Despite the defeat, there were plenty of chances and I came away about as happy as you can do when your team has just lost. It probably helped that they only charged £10 for the ticket which is a lot more reasonable than League Two matches. Also, having had a decent pie probably helped add to the match day experience!

On first inspection it seemed that Bristol specialised in pasties, the livery of the catering outlet was dominated by a pasty company. There were a lot of pasties but fortunately the pie menu was also healthy. Four were listed although only Beef and Curry were on offer for this Tuesday evening fixture. Having run out of Beef pies in the away end the catering staff were good enough to bring us some over at half time. From one Pierate to another Pirate, at least their hearties in the right place! Yo ho ho and a cup of tea, packet of crisps plus a chocolate bar gets you a 'Pie Meal Deal' for £5.50. What baffled us was why they felt the need to put a sticker on my bag to identify me as a 'pie meal deal' eating lard arse. But hey, we have proven that pies don't make you fat so I wore that sticker with pride!

Pierateer Rob was especially pleased that they brought over a Beef pie. He doesn't like curry pies, so we avoided another Cambridge 'only selling curry pies' United fiasco. Pierateer Sam does like curry pies. He also likes Beef pies. Being a 'pie meal deal' eating lard arse he opted for both! This was despite having a large pie before leaving home. The Pierate Ship was floating a little lower in the water on the way home that's for sure!

It is important to note that whilst the pie was served in a bag with the logo of the pasty company, Bristol Rovers contacted us to say that the pies are in fact made by an Australian company called Vili's. There could perhaps be better branding to promote Vili's who seem to be doing a fine job over here at Bristol. We have to admit that the Aussie seem to know a thing or two about meat pies in our experience. The Vili's beef Curry pie stood out as especially good compared to the competition at other grounds. The Beef pie didn't stand out but it was cooked well and it was at least a slight variation from the pies produced from the large national companies such as Pukka. Both of them held together well, with a thick sauce, making them ideal to eat by hand at a football match. The pastry was tasty but very flaky, perhaps overly so as I was picking flakes of pastry out of my beard for the next 24 hours. In some ways we were reminded of the flaky pastry often used for sausage rolls. At £3.20 for quite small pies these were some of the more expensive football pies we have had. However, we both agreed that we would rather have a smaller pie that we wanted to eat rather than some of the bad pies we have eaten recently at football matches. Despite being small, both pies were well filled.

The flavour of the Curry pie really impressed Pierateer Sam. It was well spiced but also really meaty. The beef added plenty of flavour and gave a more satisfying experience than other football curry pies which predominately use chicken in our experience. The beef was in nice chunks which had a bit of bite, almost, but not quite verging on too chewy. Whilst not really hot, it had some chili taste which was welcome. The filling worked well with the flaky pastry. The pie looked overcooked but fortunately didn't taste dried out.

Bristol Football Curry PieBristol Football Curry Pie

Sam and Rob both found some variation in the filling of the Beef pie. Sam was lacking in beef chunks almost entirely, whereas Rob found a reasonable meat content which wasn't chewy. However, Sam was quite happy with the flavour of the meaty sauce. It reminded him of a more peppery version of the Pukka Beef and Onion. Rob found the pepper too strong and that the other flavours just didn't really do enough to stand out. There was a great gloss to the gravy and the Beef pies were well cooked. Rob scored the pie very slightly higher than Sam but they were both agreed that it wasn't a bad effort.

Bristol Football Beef PieBristol Beef Pie

The catering staff explained that Vili's make the pies fresh for the match and they are cooked on site in ovens just before the game. This is certainly an advantage compared to the frozen and microwave options adopted at other grounds. The strong score for the Curry pie see Bristol Rovers up to 3rd place in our PIEremiership Football Pie League. Arrrgh'll be back for more!

Curry Pie (Bristol Rovers FC/Vili's)

[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 5.8, Condition 4.8, Chewiness 5.8, Cheapness 4.2, Content 6.3]


Beef Pie (Bristol Rovers FC/Vili's)

[Colour 5.3, Capacity 4.8, Consistency 4.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 3.5, Content 4]

continue reading "Pierate Pillage Pirates"

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Pierate's Football Pie features on Channel 5!

Birmingham Pie League to expand the PIEremiership

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 the exciting news is that we're expanding it to cover all five West Midlands clubs. With Walsall already covered but rated over 5 years ago (in what was actually Pierateer Rob's second ever pie review!) we've decided to go on a West Midlands Football Pie Tour, with all five grounds in the Birmingham area being covered.

Aston Villa, Birmingham, West Brom and Wolverhampton's football pies have already been put under the spotlight in the past few weeks and Walsall's is still to come this weekend, as we look to find out whose pies hit the back of the net and which ones will be paying the penalty! You've been able to follow our progress on our twitter and reports will be added to an article I'll be writing about the Birmingham Football Pie League for Buzzfeed in the coming few weeks!

But without us even realising, Channel 5's "Football League Tonight" programme got in there early and spotted us pie rating at the Wolves v Huddersfield game on Saturday, featuring our photo on their football highlights show! Thanks to Steve Bartley and Thom Bartley for pointing it out to us on Twitter!

Wolves Football Pie on Channel 5
Football on 5 showed our half-eaten pie on Channel 5!

Check out the football pies we've rated so far in our PIEremiership!

Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
And speaking of football 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!

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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and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pierate's Football Pie features on Channel 5!"

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Devon Knows How They Make Them So Chunky

Chunk of Devon - Posh Fish, Steak & Ale and Steak & Stilton Pie Reviews

I have come across Chunk of Devon pies a few times now so I thought it was about time that I shared my thoughts on their pies. As the name suggests these pies are made in Devon, they are quite common in chips shops and bakeries in Devon which is good to see, it makes a change from the domination of Pukka pies in other parts of the country. They can also be brought in other places in the South West as well as on First Great Western trains.

Chunk do also make quite a lot of pasties which is probably of no surprise given that Devon is more well know for the alternative pastry product.  It is no coincidence then that these pies are quite pasty-like. In fact they are the closest thing in to a pasty in pie form that I have ever found. If you are a follower of Pierate you will know that we in no way consider a pasty to be a pie, it needs sides and a lid to be a pie. Therefore you might be shocked to hear me say that a pie tasting like a pasty is not necessarily a bad thing. I have nothing against pasties per se, it is mainly that annoying dry crimped edge that I dislike. But the strong, crunchy shortcrust pastry can actually be quite satisfying. Do away with the crimp, add a lid and you've got the makings of a decent pie!

I have tried a Steak & Stilton, Posh Fish and Steak & Ale. All of them had the same pasty-like pastry which tasted nice. It was perhaps a little too thick in places and therefore a bit doughy. They were oval in shape and a little rough around the edges, but only so much as to make them pleasingly handmade in appearance. The pastry was a glossy brown which you would expect from the Cornish pasty type pastry if in some cases a little paler than I would have liked. The pies were quite tall which gave them a decent capacity but they weren't always well filled. The scores are below ranked in order of preference.

Posh Fish - Cod, Salmon, Prawn & Haddock
Chunk of Devon Pie

Chunk of Devon PieI grabbed one of these hot in the Esplanade Fish Bar in Lynmouth for £3.70. This pie does stand out as one of the few proper fish pies I have had (many fish pies are not fully encased in pastry, but we have found a few, see the list here). There was a pleasant, mild, fish flavour with both white and pink fish visible in the pie. The peas and sweetcorn went well with the fish and added some variety. It was nice to find a pie which does something so different. On the downside, it wasn't very well filled and the filling was padded out rather a lot with potato so overall I don't think there was a lot of fish. It said it had prawns but there weren't any visibly discernible prawns in the pie. A pie which is tasty enough to get again if I fancied a change from a steak pie.

Posh Fish - Cod, Salmon, Prawn, & Haddock (Chunk of Devon/Lynmouth's Esplanade Fish Bar [EX35 6EQ])

Steak & Ale
Chunk of Devon Pie
Chunk of Devon PieI purchased this pie for £4.50 on a First Great Western train. It was a shame that I chose to purchase this one on the train because I paid a premium on the price which has reduced the score. It was Chunky by name and chunky by nature with quite a lot of decent steak chunks. These were tender and tasty. There was quite a strong ale taste which I liked, it made it taste a bit different. However, my Mum didn't like it. It was good to see some pieces of carrot to add a bit of variety but these had been cooked too long and were soggy. Other than that the taste and texture were good.

Steak & Ale (Chunk of Devon/First Great Western Trains)

Steak & Stilton

Chunk of Devon Pie
Chunk of Devon PieThe cheapest of the lot, just £3.30 from Dunster Deli in the picturesque town of Dunster in Somerset. The Deli was nice, I picked up some lovely bottles of real ale. Unfortunately this pie wasn't really heated up very well which might have affected my enjoyment. I was also caught off guard by the large quantity of mushroom which took up the pie, I think this should have been sold as 'Mushroom, Steak & Stilton' pie. I have nothing against mushroom but the texture can be a bit unappealing when you are expecting steak! The mushroom seemed quite firm and chewy. It didn't seem to work too well with the taste of the stilton. My personal preference wouldn't be to mix them together, but others may not feel the same. There was a mild stilton taste, it was welcome that it wasn't very strong because it can become a bit overpowering for me. There wasn't any visible bit of cheese, indicating it was well mixed in. There was a little meat but I would certainly go for the steak and ale next time to replace the mushroom with more steak!

Steak & Stilton (Chunk of Devon/Dunster Deli [TA24 6SF])

continue reading "Devon Knows How They Make Them So Chunky"

Friday, 2 October 2015

Our Pie Diet Is Picked Up By National Newspaper

Back in British Pie Week 2014 Pierateer SJL ate pie for every meal in any attempt to show that pies shouldn't be so heavily blamed for our obesity problems, finding that he actually lost weight during the 21 pie meal challenge. You can read the full story of his exploits in the original article. Now this story has been picked up by national newspaper the Daily Star Sunday and can be read on their website. We are pleased to see that the Daily Star Sunday are spreading our message that pies can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Given that a pie can also contain meat, vegetables and carbohydrates, it can be quite a balanced meal in it's own right. We should know, after all, we eat a lot of pies! We hope that this encourages others in the media to stop unfairly associating pies and obesity.

Pierateer RAS had recently been featured in the paper, giving them advice on what makes a good pie as they launched their own pie competition, 'The Great British Pie Off' and in the process bringing their attention to the worlds leading pie review blog!

continue reading "Our Pie Diet Is Picked Up By National Newspaper"

Thursday, 1 October 2015

MyPie Steak a claim for the top London pie!

MyPie London Steak and Ale Pie Review

Street Food Markets are a great place to sample the delights of the local food scene and of course London has more than its fair share of food providers! So this weekend, basking in the sunshine of a late September heat wave, two Pierateers headed down to London’s South Bank Street Food Market, at the back of the South Bank Centre, for another taste of MyPie.

You may have heard of the name. After all, MyPie have already had their Chicken pie rated as the highest ranking Chicken pie in London at 6.39/7. And we just recently announced that Chris’ pies will be headlining our 6th Birthday Pie-rty on 14th November, which we’re really looking forward to!

So what pie were we rating this time?

MyPie London Steak and ale pie review
MyPie London Steak and ale pie review
Well, it’s no secret from a quick glance at our 500+ pie rankings that we’re rather a fan of steak and ale pies, so knowing that Chris had this flavour in his repertoire, we knew we needed to get our hands on this pie! However it became clear after Pierateer Rob first sampled these pies that there was something particularly special about them, which was why Pierateer Sam (on Saturday) and Pierateer Rob (on Sunday) popped down to London to officially pie rate these steak and ale beauties!

MyPie London Pie Truck
MyPie London Pie Truck
With such a large number of food suppliers at the South Bank Street Food Market, you had to infiltrate the hustle and bustle of the market to get across to the MyPie truck, hidden away slightly at the back of the market. However with its distinctive red and white d├ęcor and the word “pie” on it numerous times, it wasn’t hard to know we were in the right place! This was our first experience of being served from the converted ice cream van’s hatch, as Pierateer Rob had previously met Chris in Wimbledon to get his hands on the chicken and steak pies.

Service was quick and easy, with the main dilemma being “mash or mustard mash” and how much gravy to have with the pie and mash. Of course being a piefessional, Pierateer Rob opted to have the pie in one tray and the mash doused in gravy in the other. When you’re rating a pie, you want to just rate the pie. No excuses for additional mash/gravy influencing the rating where at all possible!

So how was the steak and ale pie? Well… “wow!” Does that help? Perhaps “one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten” is a bit more descriptive? After over 500 pies being rated on the web’s leading pie review blog it can be hard to get amazed at filling fully encased in pastry anymore. But there you would be wrong!

MyPie London Steak and ale pie review
MyPie London Steak and ale pie review

The pastry on the MyPie steak and ale pie is near spot on. It’s crisp on the outside and a bit softer and gooey in the middle, not too thick but with great structural integrity. You can pick it up with your hand. You can cut easily through it with cutlery (even plastic cutlery!) and most importantly it just tastes delicious. End of! A key indicator we look at with pastry is “would I eat this pastry on its own, without filling?” – and the answer with MyPie pastry is a definite “of course I would!!!” While you could perhaps give it a slight critique that the design is quite simple, it stands tall and proud, just like the ultimate pie should!

But a pie is not pastry alone – as we recently pointed out when being interviewed for a national newspaper. It is the balance between filling and pastry, which we refer to as the filling:pastry ratio, that really makes or breaks a pie. And this pie’s ratio is near piefection. Never was I thinking there’s too much filling or (as is more common on lower quality pies) there’s too much pastry. The ratio was spot on, with a near full capacity of filling in the pie.

The flavour of the filling was so nice and meaty and the steak so tender. It had a small amount of veg, a nice taste of herbs and a flavoursome aley gravy, which gave it a slightly fruity feel. Fantastic – a bit like a casserole that my grannie would have made (except much nicer). The gravy was just the right thickness to be moist but not leak all over you.

The pie had been slightly stronger seasoned in the first pies that we both tried than in the second samples, with the stronger seasoned pie (rosemary and pepper) more to Sam’s taste and the slightly less seasoned one more to Rob’s. We put this slight variation down to these pies being handmade in small batches, with a bit of season variation such as the rosemary available in Chris’ garden when we tried the first pies, which was less apparent in the second pies. But the bottom line is that we both thought these were all some of the best pies we’d ever had, and the best we’d had this year.

Chris has done a fabulous job with these pies and we wish him and his MyPie em-pie-re all the best for his exciting future expansion plans! With pies like these, he is definitely onto a winner! They are once again Pierate Highly Recommended and at the time of reviewing are the new top pie in London!

MyPie Steak and Ale Pie
Score: 6.61/7
[Colour 6.75, Capacity 6.75, Consistency 6.5, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.75, Cheapness 6.5, Content 6.5, Total: 6.61/7]

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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and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "MyPie Steak a claim for the top London pie!"

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Why Come to Wycombe?

Wycombe Wanderers/Bisto - made by Peter's

Having eaten quite a few pies at football matches in our time (see our football pie league), one of the main problems tends to be whether the pie is cooked properly. When trying to prepare so many pies in a short space of time it is tempting for clubs to not cook them for long enough and then let them dry out as they try and keep a large number of pies warm. The Phat Pasty pies being served at Wycombe last season were a prime example of a pie done in a bad way. Whilst it wouldn't put ardent fans off from attending the game given that Wycombe are struggling with falling attendances perhaps some of the more casual fans are wondering why come to Wycombe when the pies are so bad?

Having attended the Wycombe v Cambridge match last night I was excited to see a new pie being served. Had Wycombe taken our advice to replace the Phat Pasty pies after just 1 season? Now they are serving Bisto branded pies which is a brand I had not come across before. A Bisto branded pie does make sense to some extent. I expected that whilst it might not do anything outstanding, if it was made with Bisto gravy it would at least not taste bad, after all apparently Britons have 1.6 billion meals with Bisto every year! I grabbed the last Steak pie for £3.

Wycombe pie
I then noticed that the pie was in fact made under licence by our friends in Wales, Peter's Pies. I was please about this becaue before last season's change, Wycombe served Peter's Premier Pies for a number of years and we had previously scored them well. My expectation was that this would effectively be a standard Peter's pie under a different brand. I was soon left feeling rather deflated as I delved into the pie, the pastry sides and base were decidedly soggy and completely fell to pieces, just like my hopes of a good pie. It seemed like this pie had not been cooked properly at all. It seemed as if it had been microwaved. My fears were soon confirmed when I learnt that the pie can be microwaved cooked from frozen. Whilst this can save time it is not normally recommended by the Pierateers, it will often result in soggy or dry pastry. Sadly, poor cooking has again let Wycombe down.

This wouldn't have been a complete disaster if the pie wasn't also completely tasteless. I would have expected it to at least taste like Bisto gravy but in fact the gravy was just tasted watery, starchy and fatty. The only redeeming feature was the good amount of steak chunks in the pie. There weren't any chewy pieces. However, these were also somehow fairly tasteless! I couldn't help but feel that this really was a pie to avoid even if it had been cooked properly. The only thing that impressed me was that Wycombe had managed to find a pie which scored worse than last season. Oh well, at least it can't get worse, can it? See the score breakdown below. Fortunately for Wycombe, they were so near the bottom of our Pie Football League (the PIEremiership) that losing some points does not currently see them move down the table.
Wycombe football pie

Condition - 3.5 out of 7 - The pie arrived wrapped in Bisto branded plastic. The wrapper gives away that these pies come frozen and can be microwaved.
Colour - 2.0 out of 7 - Whilst the flaky lid looked crispy brown the sides and base appeared raw and unappealing.
Cheapness - 3.5 out of 7 - A pretty standard price for league 2 but I would normal expect something a bit better at the price. I guess it did at least have quite a lot of steak chunks.
Capacity - 4.9 out of 7 - This was an area where the pie did quite well, it was a decent size and also well filled.
Chewiness - 3.5 out of 7 - The texture to the tender steak was let down by an awful texture to the pastry, it just fell apart when I tried to take it out of the case. The sides and base were so soggy and under cooked it felt like I was really eating raw flour.
Content - 2.0 out of 7 - Terrible, I am not sure how they made the whole thing so tasteless, I really didn't enjoy it. My Dad also tried it a said it was a '1 out of 7', whilst I might not be that harsh, I doubt many people would say they enjoyed the taste of this pie.
Bisto pieConsistency - 2.5 out of 7 - Soft and stodgy, the pastry had a horrible consistency. Perhaps the filling was not so bad, the sauce being just about thick enough to stay in the pie (had the pastry not fallen apart). This is quite a new pie from Peter's, having been released this year and I think it needs more work. Peter's have experimented with making pies under other brands before, such as the Heinz pies we have reviewed, however, it seems that they are best when they are using their own brand. I wouldn't expect these Bisto pies to be around for long.

Steak Pie (Wycombe Wanderers/Bisto - made by Peter's)


continue reading "Why Come to Wycombe?"

Monday, 28 September 2015

Simpson's Pie is Excellent

Simpsons of Stranraer - Scotch Pie Review

When done well a Scotch pie can be both delicious and cheap. But when spending a pound or less on a hot pie it can be a bit hit and miss, there are probably more that are 'd’oh' than 'whoohoo'! But the search is well worth it as there are some bargains to be had. Simpsons of Stranraer is one of those establishments serving up great hot pies for just one pound. I paid them a visit recently as part of my quest to find out 'What Makes the Best Scotch Pie?'.
Simpsons Stranraer Shop

I went to the Newton Stewart branch on a rainy afternoon to seek some shelter. The display that greeted me warmed my spirits, a display of pies is the first thing you see as you come in the door. When I requested a Scotch Pie I was asked whether I wanted the onion version or the non-onion version. I have come across some Scotch pies with onion and some without but I haven’t normally found somewhere which does both. I opted for the onion version despite the potential for hallatosis. There are many ways that pies can help you make friends but smelling of onion is not one of them. However, when you have pies, who needs friends? This pie was a pretty good companion, it was just a shame that it didn’t last long. It was delicious and slipped down so well it was gone in moments.

Simpsons Stranraer Pies

Condition – 5.70 out of 7 – A pleasing shape and such sharp edges, this was a pie in high definition, no wonky handmade malarkey here. I do prefer my pies not have such big holes in the top though!
Colour – 5.60 out of 7 – A slightly flour-y outside gave this pie a matt effect, which is not normally what I look for in the ultimate pie but it still looked nice.
Simpsons Stranraer Scotch PieCheapness – 6.70 out of 7 – For £1 this pie was absolutely packed with meaty contents. Given how cheap it was I was pleased to see a sign telling me it was 16% beef. I do wonder sometimes with these cheap pies if they bulk them up with some road kill. The meat didn’t look disgusting as it can do for other cheap pies (c.f. the Greggs Scotch Pie).
Capacity – 6.00 out of 7 – It was quite big for a Scotch pie and completely full.
Chewiness – 5.50 out of 7 – The meat wasn’t at all chewy and slipped down really well. If anything it slipped down a bit too easy, it was all a bit too soft which is really the only criticism of this pie. The pastry rim was the only part that had a bit of crunch. Given that Scotch Pies use minced meat bulked out with starch it is difficult for them to obtain the satisfying texture that I would expect the ultimate pie to have. But, there is something about them which I love anyway!
Simpsons Stranraer Scotch PieContent – 6.30 out of 7 – The filling didn’t have a lot of seasoning but it didn’t need it because it was full of flavour. It was nice that it wasn’t overly salty. The fatty, rich beef flavour and strong onion taste was reminiscence of a burger and fried onions which worked well for me, but of course if you don’t like onions then steer well clear! This was a pie so pungent if eaten in public then people will turn to see what their delicious/disgusting (delete as appropriate) smell is.
Consistency – 6.40 out of 7 – Slipped down a treat, the fat made it really moist and whilst it didn’t have any gravy, the sign of a good pie was that I wouldn’t even bother pouring gravy on even if I did have some. I just wish I had gone back to try some more of their pies! So good it currently occupies 2nd place in our all time ranking of Scotch pies!

Beef & Onion Scotch Pie (Simpsons of Stranraer) 

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Friday, 25 September 2015

Pierateers hit London for Food Blogger Connect (and pie!)

2014 was always going to be a hard act to follow! In it we achieved far more than we could ever imagine - including our first TV appearance on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, being pie experts on the BBC Sport website and our amazing 5th Birthday Pie-rty!

But 2015 is already proving to be it's match, with our debut on BBC One as pie experts for Rip Off Britain and more recently being approached by Buzzfeed to write a football pie article for them next month! And the next step of this amazing blogging journey is to hit the bright lights of London and attend the Food Bloggers Connect conference in Chiswick House this Saturday!

Talk Like A Pirate Pierate Ship
While unfortunately we were unable to visit for the whole weekend, there are a whole host of exciting sessions on Saturday that we're looking forward to attending. These include a "Monetise your blog" session and "Awesome Analytics" session, plus we're looking forward to contributing to "The Great Big Industry Ethics Debate", where the impact of blogging in the world will be discussed.

Unfortunately I haven't spotted any pie makers on the long list of food suppliers attending this weekend, but I look forward to seeing what samples are available none the less. I'm also expecting plenty of time to mingle and network with other food bloggers, something I've only just started having the pleasure of doing.

As part of the pre-conference build up we were all asked a few questions by the Food Blogger Connect staff, so here are my replies:

What are you looking forward to learning and enjoying at FBC this year?

This will be my first FBC event and I'm looking forward to networking with other bloggers, getting some insight into google analytics and monetising our blog!

Is blogging your full time job? If not, what is your day job and what do you get up to when you’re not blogging?

Unfortunately pie blogging is not my full time job - but that's probably good for my waistline! However it's a full on hobby and great fun! In "real life" I'm an administrator and I love playing and watching sport.

What first motivated you to blog and how has blogging changed your life?

Everyone loves a good pie and when we were chatting about pies in the pub one evening about six years ago, we decided if no one else had already taken "pierate" as a pie reviewing website name, we would! Since then we've been on radio, BBC TV and the dream is to one day have our own TV series! (Well, you've got to dream big!!!)

Four courses in one pie!

What’s your signature dish?

We're pie raters, rather than pie makers, here on Pierate Pie Reviews. However we do have a friend who occasionally posts original pie recipes and her "Four Course Dinner Pie" (four courses in one pie!) was actually amazing!

How far have you travelled to eat pie?

We've travelled all around the world looking for the perfect pie - though admittedly most of the reviews are from the UK! One place we'd still love to visit is America - perhaps some kind of American Pie Tour!

If you could cook for anyone in history, who would it be and why?

If I could meet any cook in history, it would be the person who invented the pie. I'd give them a long handshake and thank them for their genius in putting filling into pastry and making that first ever pie! You don’t need to ask what I’d cook for them…

How is your lifestyle shaped by food? How is your lifestyle shaped by blogging? Does blogging shape your approach to food and what you eat now?

My lifestyle and what I eat is quite linked to my food blogging, in that whenever I am in a new pub or a new town I'll often seek out a pie. Increased travel these days makes this easier. However pie blogging has led to me being on radio, BBC TV, meeting footballer Frank Lampard... it's been a great adventure!

If you still want to find out more, why not watch our "Grill A Pierateer" video from a few weeks ago, where we answered 10 pie questions sent in by our twitter followers:

And if all that isn't enough excitement for you, this weekend in London will also include joining the guys who run the amazing - a group of people who meet monthly to eat - you guessed it! - pie and mash at one of London's many pie emporiums and record in great detail the pie and mash consumed along the way! I'm hoping to get a few points in their league table for the pies I consume with them!

MyPie Truck Pie Review
The amazing MyPie truck!
Following that (and I hope I still have room for it!) I'll be meeting Pierateer Tim to rate the pies at The Queen's Head in Piccadilly, central London on Friday night. Looking forward to checking out their pie menu.

And our London pie weekender will be rounded off on Sunday with a visit to see the provider of our sixth Birthday Pie Party pies (happening on 14th November) - Mr Chris Brumby. For those who don't know, Pierate Highly Recommended pie maker Chris of MyPie has his own converted ice-cream van from which he sells top pies in London and we're looking forward to getting our hands on his Steak and Ale pie! There will probably be a few cheeky pie party plans to discuss too!

It's all going on here on the web's leading pie review website these next few months - and we can't wait to share it all with you! In the meantime, look out for more on our sixth birthday party soon, as we announce how you could be a part of it!

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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and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pierateers hit London for Food Blogger Connect (and pie!)"

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Birmingham's Grand Central Opening: Square Pie Live Blogging

The time for Birmingham has finally arrived! Five years in the making - and many more in the planning - Birmingham New Street station and the shopping centre above it have finally opened there doors! And the exciting news is that the Grand Central shopping centre has a pie shop at it's e-pie-centre! No longer do we have to pie-ne in Britain's second city for a pie shop to fill our cravings - following the sad closure of Urban Pie earlier this year - for Square Pie have opened in the city centre. And we're about to check it out, so follow the live blogging below!

Grand Central Birmingham Pie Shop
Grand Central in Birmingham City Centre, home to Square Pie shop

Did you know? With an estimated spend of £750 million pounds on refurbishing New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre, and based on an average pie costing £3, you could have got £250 million pies for that much! #UselessPieFact

Before we check out the new Square Pie store in Birmingham's newest shopping centre Grand Central, the name Square Pie may ring a bell - and you'd be right! We've already rated their pies in their London Westfield Shopping Centre store and they rated pretty well! In fact, a number of them were Pierate Recommended as we celebrated eating our 100th rated pie there!

That celebratory 100th pie was actually rated back in 2012, and in 2013 we rated their Chicken, Leak and Wiltshire Ham pie at 5.58/7, which was another Pierate Recommended effort.

So now with this swanky new pie shop opening in Birmingham, it's time to check it out! Let the live blogging commence... (in reverse order)

17:50 - I'll leave you with this photo of the Square Pies on offer - and treat you to more pie photos when I rate some next week!!!

17:45 - The Square Pie launch has already been a real success - with queues of customers reported at lunchtime - and the staff very helpfully took me through their offerings. But the new World Cup flavours are what I'll have my eyes on next week! Check back on Pierate next week for our next Square Pie review!

17:35 - Birmingham food blogger Laura aka 'Full to the Brum' has asked what this Rugby World Cup pie-off Square Pie are doing is all about? Well I can announce that there will be some special pie flavours to enjoy from this Monday as the World Cup pie-off hits Birmingham! Some very quirky flavours in there - the full line up can be seen on the Square Pie website!

17:25 - Just had an interesting chat with the manager Anthony, who only got access to the restaurant on Monday! He's been trained up in Square Pie shops down in London and really looking forward to this start up in Birmingham!

17:15 - The Square Pie restaurant is in a large food area of Grand Central, with an open air feel to it so you really get the hustle and bustle of the shopping centre while you eat. However there are secluded spots to sit too!

17:05 - Up the escalator and into Birmingham's newest retail centre! And a great view across the concorse, it must be said!

16:50 - The excitement is building as the train edges nearer Birmingham New Street. I'm like a kid counting down the days til Christmas!!!

16:30 - Have to admit I was a bit nervous earlier when I read this Birmingham Mail article that not all the shops in Grand Central were open yet! Fortunately Square Pie weren't on the list!

16:20 - Where will this pie fit in with all the other top pies in Birmingham?! Check out our "Best Pies in Birmingham" article to find out the com-pie-tition!

16:15 - Just leaving the house ready to get a train into Birmingham New Street's new refurbished station. I caught a glimpse of the glass roof yesterday and it looked great!

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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and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Birmingham's Grand Central Opening: Square Pie Live Blogging"

Monday, 21 September 2015

Tesco have done a proper job with this top pie!

Tesco Slow Cooked Steak and Ale Puff Pastry (with Proper Job ale) Pie Review

Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review
Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review
It has to be said that supermarket pies rarely trouble the upper echelons of the Pierate Pie Rankings and there’s a few reasons for that. Firstly, they are mass produced, which often loses the pie marks for care and passion put into making them. They also often contain 20% meat or less, meaning their content and capacity scores take a right nosedive. Added to that is the generic, mass appeal flavours they tend to focus on to keep costs down.

Which is why I’m delighted to have found a pie in Tesco that is both affordable, meaty and rates well on the 7 Cs of pie rating. Well done Tesco! You’ve done a proper job of your Slow Cooked Steak and Ale pie, featuring Proper Job ale. And at just £1.73 this is pretty much a steal!

The flaky puff pastry was pretty much spot on, being a little pale on the sides but tasting very nice indeed. It easily passed the hand held test and didn’t crumble on eating. The slow cooked chunks of British steak were not at all fatty, instead tender and filling. The beef was a whopping 37%, which is almost as high as some of the artisan pies we’ve rated highly, and far higher than the typical 20% meat you find in a lot of supermarket pies. There was still a bit of an air gap, so capacity wasn’t perfect, but it left me nicely filled in a way a lot of supermarket pies don’t. The filling to pastry ratio was again pretty much spot on.

Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review
Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review

Of course there will be some out there who say a steak and ale pie isn’t exactly an exciting filling option, but in my eyes this pie isn’t trying to be exuberant and doesn’t need to be. It’s a delicious classic pie flavour, with a great balance between the Proper Job ale and the rich gravy and the meaty filling. One I would certainly highly recommend at a fabulous £1.73 (or if you’re fortunate, just £2.50 for 2 when on special offer!)

Tesco Slow Cooked Steak and Ale Puff Pastry Pie (with Proper Job ale)
Score: 6.14/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 6.75, Content 6, Total: 6.14/7]

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 "Tesco have done a proper job with this top pie!"