Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Chicago Pie Tour

Chicago, the Windy City, was only incorporated as a city in 1837 but is now the third most populous city in the United States with 2.7 million residents. Its location on the shore of Lake Michigan made it an important location for trade and saw the economy expand. This massive growth in population and economy saw people arrive from all over the world. The question we wanted to answer to was what affect has this had on the pies that they have on offer? Indeed are pies common in Chicago? Being based in the UK we have not had much exposure to American pies, in fact we have not reviewed any before. I was aware that apple pies were popular but have often found that what American's call pies we might refer to in Britain as tarts, i.e. a fruit pie without a top pastry lid.

chicago pierate

Work took me to a conference in Chicago (yes, sadly pie reviewing is not quite a full time job yet!). Afterwards I took a day off to do some sightseeing, having never been to Chicago before. It was a packed schedule, I wanted to see some of the tourist sights such as the view from the John Hancock Center but also wanted to try at least a few different pies. When trying to find the best pies in a new city it often seems that they won't be in convenient central locations and will be spread around the city. This indeed was the case in Chicago. High up my itinerary was Pleasant House Pub (home of Royal Pies) and Hooiser Mama, both seemed to be highly regarded. I was also intrigued by First Slice, a charity who use their profits to provide free meals to those in need. Pleasant House Pub was conveniently situated to the south end of the city, where I was based. Hooiser Mama was to the west with First Slice miles out to the in the north.

I found that Chicago had a cycle hire scheme called Divvy, similar to the one in London and used this to travel around. It was slightly dangerous as I didn't understand the rules of the road, the bendy buses seemed keen to take cyclist out and the road surface resembled the surface of the moon. However, it was great fun as it meant I saw diverse parts of the city I wouldn't have gone to if I had just stuck to the tourist trail. The lakefront in particular was beautiful and had segregated cycle paths. I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn't melting in the 35C heat. It's just not what I am used to on the hunt for pies in England! Fortunately some of the pies came with ice cream so all was okay.

Fortunately the pies didn't let me down after all my efforts to track them down. I am pleased to say that Chicagoans seem to be into their pies, there were many more that I didn't have a chance (or occasionally the appetite) to eat in my short visit to such a large city. My worries that none of the pies would have top-crust lids were unfounded based. I always found what we would call 'proper pies' available although some options like pecan pie (without a lid) were present. I will attempt to write up my experiences in the next few weeks so keep looking at Pierate to see which pies come out on top!

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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Piefest UK celebrates a summer of pie fun!

This weekend (13th-14th August) marks the first ever "Piefest UK" celebration of pies in the one and only capital of pies - Melton Mowbray! From 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday you can sample the many pie-lights of the UK pie scene all in one place - the Melton Mowbray Cattle Market (LE13 0HS)!

We would have loved to have been there this weekend, having been invited along to do a talk on "How to rate a pie" - something we are of course the pie-fessionals at, having been on BBC One's hit show Rip Off Britain as pie experts, among other highlights. However "proper work" - as pie rating is sadly not yet a full time profession! - has got in the way this time, but we hope to be there next year!

In the meantime, however, we very much hope people enjoy the first ever Piefest UK and look forward to hearing how it went! For more information on this first event, in the same town that hosts the annual British Pie Awards, check out their website!

The Ship's Cook made this amazing Birthday Cake Pie!
This official pie extravaganza follows hot on the heels of our very own Pierate Piefest 2016 just a few weeks ago, which was the first time in a long while we'd managed to get all the Pierateers under one roof. We sampled a range of lovely pies, including a crocodile and a game pie donated to us from Pierate Recommended Pie & Ale Manchester! They were both very nice and full of flavour, although split between 4 hungry Pierateers we will need to give them a proper review when we have a whole pie each during our next visit to the shop in Manchester!

However the undeniable pie-light of our very own Pierate Piefest was the Birthday Cake Pie, made by the one and only Ship's Cook! This amazing construction was a vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cake layered into and fully encased in sweet pastry - with a few pirate decorations just for good measure! And it tasted just as good as it looks! Amazing work! The only question we were left asking ourselves was why had we never had one of these before?!?!

This Birthday Cake Pie (a cake in a pie) was followed the next day by Pierateer Rob going to an event hosted by Matt Williams of www.ratemysnack.co.uk - a food website that celebrates giant food and allows people to rate the snacks they see (and even submit photos of their own efforts!) Matt himself had decided to make a "pake" - which is pie in a cake. Although his colossal effort was actually loads of pies in loads of cake!

Matt Williams Pake Pie Cake Review
Matt Williams and his "Pake"

Matt ended up using 10 fruit pies in five layers of cake/pie - with 3 layers of chocolate sponge with cherry pie inside and 2 layers of vanilla sponge with apple pie inside. I personally went for the vanilla cake/apple pie combo and it tasted very good! Great work Matt!

The summer is always a bit of a quieter period for the Pierateers, this summer even more so. Work and life commitments come to the fore but don't worry - there are still some very exciting posts that will be hitting the world's number one pie blog soon! Firstly, if you've been following @pierateers recently you will know that Pierateer Sam has been checking out some pies Stateside!

Yes, our Pierate Ship finally set sail to America, as Sam visited some pie shops in Chicago! However, like London buses, it won't be long until our second visit to America, as Pierateer Rob will be visiting New York in October! Look out for some awesome American pie reviews coming your way soon!!!

And hot off the press is news that on 23rd October the Pierate Highly Recommended firm "Nice Pie" are hosting a Melton Mowbray Pie Eating Competition! We look forward to finding out more about that soon!

As always, keep your pie suggestions coming in, enjoy some summer pies and we hope to review more pies soon!


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
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continue reading "Piefest UK celebrates a summer of pie fun!"

Saturday, 23 July 2016

York Pies - Shambles

Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe Pie Reviews - The Shambles, York

On a recent visit to the Viking city of York I was pleased to find a proper, traditional pie shop in the heart of the city. The narrow street called The Shambles is rich in history. Some of the timber framed buildings date back to the 14th century. It is also rich in pie history with the street having previously been packed with butcher's shops. There is a high kerb running down the street. I heard was so the blood and gore could flow away down the centre of the street.... a bit different to your modern supermarket meat aisle! The street is now primarily focused on tourists with gift shops and quaint cafes. Fortunately one shop is tapping into the street's heritage, they don't even have a sign, just a picture of a pie hanging from the side of the shop. Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe has a lovely display of pies sitting proudly in the window. They also had some interesting flavours so I couldn't restrict myself to only trying one. Many of them were in the style of a pork pie and could be eaten cold but they also had pies that they could heat up for you to eat straight away. I grabbed a Scotch Pie to have hot for £1.50 then to have later I got a Pork & Black Pudding and a Wild Boar pie at £1.70 and £2.00 respectively.

Some of the pies they had made themselves and some of them were brought in. This really showed as I have never had such a mixed experience from one shop.

York Viking Pie

Pork & Black Pudding

pork and black pudding pie
The pork and black pudding pies and the wild boar were both clearly premium, hand-made products in excellent Condition. As you can see from the picture, the rustic appearance fit in perfectly in the Viking banquet reconstructed in the Yorkshire Museum (which was well worth a visit by the way). They had ample golden glaze giving a delicious Colour. Something I always look for in a good pork pie is a bit of a crunch to the pastry unlike the soggy fare from mass produced pies. This pie did not disappoint being incredibly crunchy. This must have been made for strong Viking jaws. At one point I wondered if I had accidentally picked up one of the fake loaves of bread from the banqueting table.

The Content certainly a bit different to your average pork pie. Instead of jelly the pie relied on the black pudding to give keep it moist. It had quiet a pungent aroma which reminded me of charcuterie and was slightly over powering. I did enjoy the black pudding which added a bit of variety which is normally lacking for a pork pie. It was let down by some of the pig meat being a bit Chewy. It had a decent sized capacity and for a premium product at a premium location, £1.70 seemed relatively Cheap.

Pork & Black Pudding (Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe [YO1 7LX])

Wild Boar
york wild boar pie

The Wild Boar pie looked like it had the same pastry that the Pork & Black Pudding but if anything it was even more crunchy! The pastry actually squeaked against my teeth in a very peculiar way and bordered on being a bit dry. It was a bit softer on the inside and somehow it just about worked. This pie was helped by having an excellent Content. The wild boar was cured in big, salty pink chunks that tasted a bit like gammon. The pieces of meat were firm which gave plenty to get your teeth into. There was a lot of jelly in all the gaps which kept it moist and held the fragmented filling together like a delicious glue. As you can see from the photo, it was very greasy, turning the bag translucent, like all good pork pies should! It was a bit different to your average pork pie but overall the unique Consistency worked. Another Pierate Recommended Wild Boar pie to add to a surprisingly long list

Wild Boar (Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe [YO1 7LX])

ye olde pie & sausage shoppe

Scotch Pie

Last and definitely least was the Scotch pie. It was by far the worst Scotch pie I have ever had. You may be aware that I am quite a fan of Scotch pies, having reviewed a fair few in my search for what makes the best Scotch pie. It is relatively rare to find one in England so I thought I had to go for it but soon regretted it. There was nothing too it really. I bit into it and the lid sunk down to the base because there was barely any filling. The pastry was too dry and not enjoyable to eat. Whilst the filling was very moist, there just wasn't enough of it to soften the pastry. The filling wasn't unpleasant to eat but seemed quite watery and runny. I think it was probably beef but it was hard to say for sure. I couldn't really find anything good to say about this pie so it unfortunately goes to the bottom of our Scotch pie rankings. The only saving grace for Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe is that they didn't actually make this one, having bought it in from catering giants Bako.

Beef Scotch Pie (Ye Olde Pie & Sausage Shoppe [YO1 7LX])

york scotch pie

The Scotch pie was one blip on an otherwise very enjoyable trip to York. It is a fine city with lots of interesting history, particularly Roman and Viking. Sadly the Jorvick viking museum was closed due to the terrible flooding they experienced in 2015. Due to reopen in 2017, they are trying to meet some of the cost via crowd funding, I might have to pay another visit when they reopen but will know to avoid the Scotch pie next time.

continue reading "York Pies - Shambles"

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Pies Graffiti: BBC prove what the Pierateers knew all along!

BBC investigate who is behind "The Pies" Road Graffiti

Two years ago, following a number of photos like the one below doing the rounds on twitter, the Pierateers felt they needed to clarify that they were NOT behind the "The Pies" bit of graffiti on a road bridge near Chester.

A colleague at work (yes, sadly Pierateering is not quite a full time profession just yet!) had taken the following photo on the motorway towards Chester:

"The Pies" sign - Photo credit: Jas

Pierate officially confirmed we were not doing a Banksy and adding pie signage to road bridges up and down the country. If we'd been thinking of doing such a thing, we would certainly have put either "Pierate" or "We rate all the Pies" - our policy summed up brilliantly in our article "Who rate all the Pies?" which was produced just prior to British Pie Week two years ago.

Due to overwhelming views of this article two years ago we decided to do some research on this piece of graffiti and found a lot of history to it! Find out more in our latest article on pie graffiti

However what is interesting is that yesterday the BBC News team decided to do their own research and you can watch their 103 second long video right here: The Pies BBC Investigation

Once again, the Pierateers prove they are one step ahead of the game when it comes to all things pie!


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 "The Pies Graffiti: BBC prove what the Pierateers knew all along!"

Monday, 4 July 2016

MyPie's Chris honoured as Pierate hits 500,000 views!

At times like this, when you sit back and actually reflect on the pie-oneering work that we have done, as writers of the world's leading pie review blog, it can sometimes blow you away! Never in a million years would we have thought back in November 2009, when www.pierate.co.uk turned from a "funny idea" into a registered domain, that today we would be celebrating 500,000 page views! I'll pause there and say it again - HALF A MILLION page views... to a website that pretty much only talks about pies!!!

But that is exactly what has happened! And it's only due to the loyal support of friends and family and the wider community of pie fanatics out there across the world! While most of our views have been from the UK and USA, there have been views from all over the world, including Australia, China, Canada and much of mainland Europe! Pies really are a world cuisine!

MyPie Chris and Pierateers
Chris with Pierateers Sam, Tim and Rob
And so it seems right that to honour the fact that we've just hit 500,000 pageviews on the world's leading pie review website we're awarding an Honorary Pierateer award to a chef not originally from these parts! Chris Brumby is a proud Aussie and a top pie maker. If you've spent any amount of time looking through the hundreds of pie reviews we've done or had a glimpse of our pie rankings, you'll probably have seen Chris or his business "MyPie London" mentioned somewhere (he is after all right at the top end of our pie rankings list!!!)

We've had a number of catch ups with Chris over the years, including trying his Beef and Red wine pie in March 2014 prior to his purchase of the pie truck that he's since been touring London and part of the UK in. And alongside a number of visits to the pie truck ourselves, we were also honoured to have Chris come up to Birmingham to provide the pies for our 6th Birthday Pie-rty! Chris is certainly deserving of our award of being an Honorary Pierateer! Click here to view all the MyPie pies we have reviewed.

Tim and Sam enjoying MyPie at our 6th Birthday Pie-rty!
It seems crazy to think that on the 19th October 2013 we were celebrating yet another impressive milestone being reached - that of us having had 50,000 pageviews! Less than three years on, we've had 10 times that number, and are delighted so many pie fans have been able to enjoy and benefit from our pie research! Our slogan has always been "We rate all the pies so you don't have to" and 500,000 page views down the line, it appears many of you enjoy our musings aboard the Pierate Ship and on twitter @pierateers! So... here's to one million pie views!!!


Note: We want to once again say a big thank you to Chris for coming all the way up to Birmingham last November to provide the pies for our 6th Birthday Pie-rty! The pies were so awesome, as you'd expect from Top 10 pies in our rankings, and Chris was brilliant. And the exciting thing is there are new pies on his menu, so we look forward to seeing him again soon. Click here to view all the MyPie pies we have reviewed.
continue reading "MyPie's Chris honoured as Pierate hits 500,000 views!"

Saturday, 2 July 2016

One week til #PierateFest2016

There's no denying it's been a bit quiet on the Pierate Ship as of late. Gone are the days when we were doing almost a post a day (as during November 2013 to March 2014!) and the busyness of life of late - and particularly post-British Pie Week - has not gone unnoticed by us. But we have a plan to change all that! Introducing...


I'm not going to deny we don't really know what the exact plan is for #PierateFest2016 yet but one thing you can guarantee is there will be pie! And plenty of it! For this is the first time in a while that we're getting all the Pierateers and the Ship's Cook under one roof and we can't wait to catch up and eat pie! So far the rough plans include:

- A unique homemade birthday cake pie by the Ship's Cook - we are very intrigued about this!!!
- A veggie/gluten free pie made by Anna L for her and our gluten free Pierateer Anna E
- Two interesting pies from "Pie & Ale" in Manchester - a game pie and a crocodile pie
- A Steak pie from King's Farm, our current number 2 rated pie in our pie rankings of over 500 pies!

On top of all this we look forward to catching up and will have a bit of a reflection on the year gone in our Pierate AGM! No doubt there will be tweets and a follow up post once all this pie is eaten next Saturday!

In the meantime, why not find out more about all the Pierateers by checking out our About Us page?!


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 "One week til #PierateFest2016"

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Stick a Pie in Your Mouth in Louth

Pocklington's of Louth - Sausage & Onion Pie Review

Today I spent some time in the Lincolnshire town of Louth. I hadn't realised but this is the home of Pocklington's Bakery. On a previous trip in 2014 we found that their pies are widely available around Lincolnshire. After giving their Steak pie a comprehensive review we found it worthy of recommendation. When I just happened to come across their Bakery I felt I had to get another pie to review, as their slogan says "I couldn't resist the temptation at Pocklington's". At £1.60 for one or two for £2.00 I had to get two as it seemed to much better value! I picked up the Steak and also the intriguing Sausage & Onion.

Pocklington's Sausage & Onion Pie

So how did the pies compare to last time? The pastry was crisp on the outside but a little bit like bread on the inside. It tasted okay but I was tempted not to bother eating the thicker pastry around the crimped edge. It was good to find that the Steak pie was of a similar standard to before with decent chunks of meat. The Sausage & Onion was as interesting as it's name suggests. The sausage meat sat in the bottom of the pie in one lump, akin to a pork pie. It was actually similar to an Onion Marmalade Pork Pie I have previously reviewed. The Onion seemed to be caramelised which gave it a sweet flavour. Sadly, it was a bit too sweet for me and I didn't enjoy it very much. I have tried to not hold this against it too much in the score as I think other might like the sweet taste. It was a bit lacking in filling though, being perhaps just over half full which meant I had left over pastry at the end. I think this would have worked better as a smaller, pork pie style pie. On the plus side the meat was moist despite the lack of any gravy and it slipped down well. Overall, I think next time I would just get two of the Steak pies!

Pocklington's Sausage & Onion Pie

P.S. Just remembered I have had a Sausage & Onion pie before from Cornwall's Pride! I have eaten so many pies now I can't remember them all!

Sausage & Onion (Pocklington's [Louth])


continue reading "Stick a Pie in Your Mouth in Louth"

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Wedding Pie? Don't mind if "I do!"

Pierateer Rob is particularly excited at the moment as today marks not only two weeks until his sister Carly gets married to Alex, but he managed to persuade them to have pork pies at the wedding buffet in the evening! The main catch was that he'd have to pay for them himself... but that's alright for a once in a lifetime op-pie-tunity! He's therefore delighted to say he has commissioned two "wedding pies" - yep, they're a thing! - to be made by Bray's Cottage for the big day on Saturday 4th June!

Brays Cottage Pork Pie
The individual Bray's Cottage Pork Pie we rated previously

Rob was therefore left drooling at the slightly teasing photo below that Sarah, owner of Bray's Cottage with the quite apt www.perfectpie.co.uk web address, uploaded to twitter the other day. It was in fact a pie made for a different wedding, but it certainly made him want to lick his phone screen! (Disclaimer: Rob didn't actually lick his phone screen!)

Sarah, who has appeared on TV with Heston Blumenthal on a show about pies (and only went and made the news in the "Thetford and Brandon Times" online newspaper about it!!!) and been in countless pie articles in newspapers and magazines (like the Guardian), really is passionate about making top quality pies and the pork pies we've tried of hers have been some of the best we've had. Check out the review Sam did previously, where it was really only the cost of the pie that brought the average down a bit but still it pie rated very highly! Of course, you often only get top quality food when you're willing to part with your cash and we are very excited to sample the wedding pie in two weeks time!

Until then, Rob best start finish the little speech he's writing for the wedding, which ***SPOILER ALERT*** may possibly mention the word "pie" in it...
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Friday, 20 May 2016

Parsnip ship Pierate ship

Parsnip Ship Pie Review to celebrate National Vegetarian Week (16th - 22nd May 2016)

The ParsnipShip specialise in vegetarian and vegan foods, selling their wares at various farmer’s markets and fayres around the country. Pierateer SJL and I happened across their stand at the Gloucester Christmas market.

While many companies make veggie foods as part of their ranges, it always pleases me to find one that specialises. Often their pies have more unique flavours and unusual fillings.

Upon The ParsnipShip stand there were two veggie pies: Indian Balti (which was also vegan) and a mushroom something (I have forgotten precisely… possibly stroganoff)

Both these pies were slightly unusual in that if they were inverted and microwaved that would become a ‘pudding’. Of course, this isn’t the number one pudding rating site, so I kept them right way up and popped them in the oven.

The Indian Balti had a dry and crispy pastry, but intentionally so. It had a beautiful golden colour. I think it may have been flavoured/coloured with turmeric. It complemented the lovely curry flavour which was warm without being too hot. The pastry on the bottom was lovely and soft – I don’t know if this has anything to do with its possible pudding transformation, but it was really nice having a pastry crispy on top and soft at the bottom.

The pie was chock full of content, and the filling was tender with the perfect amount of crunch. The chickpeas inside provided a good portion of protein and I enjoyed the orange vegs. Overall though, it was a little dry.

It wasn’t a large pie, but this suited my appetite nicely. I imagine it would be a great compliment to a curry, or some Indian side dishes.


The mushroom pie had the same pastry, without the turmeric. It was however more buttery, but then, this one wasn’t vegan so it probably actually had butter in it. Inside was a lovely combination of green lentils, mushrooms and tomatoes which was also quite dry, but again, a nice portion of protein. The buttery pastry complimented the tartness of the tomatoes wonderfully.

It was quite a bland flavour but it a good way. It let the mild, nutty flavour of the mushrooms and the buttery pastry speak for themselves without being overpowered.


continue reading "Parsnip ship Pierate ship"

Monday, 9 May 2016

I real-ly can't fault these pie much!

The Real Pie Company Steak and Horseradish and All Day Breakfast Pie Reviews

It has been almost two years since I first got my hands on the amazing pies being sold by The Real Pie Company, which all rated at least as Pierate Recommended but with plenty of Pierate Highly Recommended pies including a 6.46/7! And with well over 3,000 views of that review and countless appearances on TV shopping channel QVC now under their belt, I thought it was about time I got hold of a few more! And with me celebrating the big 3-0 last month, it felt an apt time to put in an order to entertain the guests at the pie-rty and see what new offerings The Real Pie Company could provide.

The Real Pie Company pies
The Real Pie Company pies
I was therefore both amazed and delighted that The Real Pie Company were willing to send us several free boxes of pies - containing 20 pies in total! - to keep our guests happy at the pie-rty and also a couple of new pies that were either new or not quite on their books yet but coming out soon! These were the Limited Edition Steak and Horseradish pie and the All Day Breakfast pie, which contained bacon, sausage, egg and baked beans.

The morning after the pie-rty before!
Firstly the Steak and Horseradish pie, which came in the beautiful packaging of similar style to the previous pies I had before. The pie was a decent size, coming out nice and golden in colour with a great capacity upon cutting it open. Because I served it alongside a Peppered Steak and a Steak and Stout pie, I did have to ensure I got the right one (as they all looked quite similar!) but was delighted to tuck in and find it just as good as the steak pies I had previously and one of the best steak pies I have had in a while.

Real Pie Steak and Horseradish Pie Review
Steak and Horseradish Pie Review
The filling was “Crammed to the Crust” just like the slogan that adorns the pie packaging on these pies warns you! Not that I'm complaining one bit, with capacity one of the famous 7 Cs we rate pie on. And the Real Pie Company pies had a really good capacity throughout their range. The pies had a good pastry – golden and crisp – with a classic shortcrust base and sides and puff pastry lid. The meat was in general very nice and tender, with a nice gravy and hint of horseradish that added flavour but didn't overpower the taste.

At £2.95 each for a pie so packed with meat, this represents a good price, though they aren’t the biggest pies and thus aren’t quite the perfect value pies. But you can buy in bulk on The Real Pie Company website to get your pies cheaper. I'd certainly rate this pie as strongly as the other Steak pies in their range and let you decide which you'd choose based on your own personal preference of steak accompaniment!

The Real Pie Company Steak and Horseradish Pie
Score: 6.21/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.5]

Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie Review
The Real Pie Company's All Day Breakfast Pie cross-section
It was also a treat to get my hands on an All Day Breakfast pie, particularly as these were so new that they had a temporary packaging while the official package design is completed and printed off! Talk about hot off the press!!!

Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie Review
Lifting the lid on the Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie
We've had a few All Day Breakfast pies in our time on the Pierate Ship, with a slight variety in filling in each one. This one from the Real Pie Company had a layer of bacon, topped with sausage, topped with an egg, surrounded in baked beans and finally all fully encased in pastry! Quite a mouthful to say and also to eat, this pie was once again packed to the top with filling, and when I "lifted the lid" on this pie, so to speak, it was clear what care and precision had been put into making this pie. The layers of food and lovely arrangement of baked beans made it a visual treat, while also gaining consistency in the filling.

A couple of things to note: There was a nice range of flavours in the pie but it was quite dominated by the sausage meat (which does make sense, as it was the largest item in the pie). Plus the baked beans didn't really have much of a distinct tomato-ey taste, which was fine for me as I don't like overly-tomato flavoured foods, but for someone who loves the normal tomato-ey taste of full English breakfast beans, this wouldn't tick your box! I however enjoyed the taste combo, and my main reminder to you is that this pie is a lot more filling than you might imagine, what with it being a calorific all English breakfast which has then been encased in pastry as well!!! All in all though, it was the best All Day Breakfast pie I'd sunk my teeth into, so great job!

The Real Pie Company All Day Breakfast Pie
Score: 6.11/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 5.75, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.25]

So there we have it: they real-ly have done a great job with these pies – with two more Pierate Highly Recommended pies to add to their long list of accolades! And I'm delighted to hear there are other pies in the pie-peline, so we look forward to giving them a pie rating soon!

Many thanks to Brett at The Real Pie Company for sending both these two pie samples and lots of other pies for our Birthday Pie-rty. It was a great night because of the great pies! And thanks to Amy, Becca, Dan, Hannah, Jeremy, Katharina and Laura for coming along to our after pie-rty pie meal!


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 "I real-ly can't fault these pie much!"

Friday, 6 May 2016

Are Putney Pies REALLY the finest in the land?

Putney Pies - Pie Reviews

Since we started reviewing pies many years ago, one of our most popular articles has been our best pies in London page. You might think that it would be fairly easy to keep this one up to date. We already have a thorough list - so all we need to do is review any new places that spring up? But with London being classified as a "Mega City" it has proven anything but easy. In the time it takes to mop up the gravy from one pie the hipsters are already raving about a new pop up shop where they only serve indigo food and you must use chop sticks BUT they do a plum pie which is TO DIE FOR!!!

Or there are the places a little outside the city centre and it's just a bit difficult to find your way over there especially to try a pie. Sure, we might come across as single-minded pie-obsessed maniacs but sadly there are other things we have to worry about in our lives such as work, sleep, our deadly pollution levels and regular dental check ups. (Okay, maybe they aren't that regular...) All of these things sadly eat in to our pie reviewing schedule. Combine that with the fact that only Pierateer Tim actually lives in London and you might understand why it took us so long to visit Putney Pies. Their slogan promises that they deliver "the finest pies in the land" and given that they specialise in pies it seemed a must for the Pierateers to check them out!

Putney Pies Review
Putney Pies - self labelled "the finest pies in the land"
When we were recently looking for somewhere to get a special pie to celebrate Pierateer SJL's birthday it seemed like a good enough occasion to trek over to Putney and they have also recently opened "The Vault". This is underneath their main restaurant and is built into one of the arches of Putney Bridge itself. It seemed like it might provide the unique pie setting we were looking for. Certainly the atmosphere inside was special and we all enjoyed it! You sit within the brick arch and it feels like some kind of bunker where you could take refuge from nuclear war and the only food to eat for the rest of time is pie. Sam was in two minds about how he would feel about that one... but anyway, this is a great setting for pie. It remains classy; some pie related decor but they forgo the in your face kitch pie paraphernalia that other places resort to. At weekend evenings the music turns up and you can imagine it is a great party venue with people getting off their faces on pie!

Putney Pies Vault
Four of the Pierateers were present at this meal
It was good to see a choice of 7 Proper Pies which is well above average for a restaurant but expected for somewhere such as Putney which is specialising in pies. They do also offer a range of 'pot pies' or 'casseroles with pastry lids' as we might call them. We were please they used the slightly inferior 'pot pie' term for these pies but puzzled as to why they don't offer the choice of pastry case with all flavours as other places do. Pierateer Sam ordered a classic, the Steak and Ale for £10.95 (now £11.95) with mash and gravy which is pretty average for a London pie in this kind of setting. He also got the 'pie bites' starter which was 3 mini pies for £5.95. Pierateer Rob got a Beef Bourguignon and they could also cater for Pierateer Anna Senior (veggie) and Pierateer Anna Junior (gluten free). However this did mean a top-crust, spicy butter bean pie and a shepherds pie respectively.

Pie Bites, but are they pies?
Sam had this to say about the starter: "The pie bites arrived and were somewhat baffling, they certainly didn't look like pies to me, seemingly more like sausage rolls in appearance. The flavours were nice enough but, as with many pies of this size, it is difficult to get the pastry to filling ratio right. Given that they didn't look anything like pies I won't review them here but expect to see them winning the British Pie Awards in 2017." (Cheeky reference there to a pasty winning the British Pie and Pasty Awards 2016, of course!)

Putney Steak Pie
Steak & Ale Pie

Putney Steak Pie

Sam continues: "Now onto the meat of this review and when I say meat that was the star of this pie show. It was well filled with proper pieces of flavoursome steak. They sat in a tasty gravy made with London Pride ale which was just the right consistency. This was a decent sized pie, well filled with chunks of meat which felt like decent value at this price. The pie also looked fantastic, reminiscent of the recently defunct Paul's Pies and it was nice to see them put the effort in to make it look good. It had a lovely glaze on top but this was a bit patchy.

Sadly though Putney were always setting themselves up for a bit of a fall by claiming to have 'the finest pies in the land'. This certainly was a long way off being the finest in London, let alone England. With such high expectations I was left rather disappointed. The pastry was quite a let down. It was too crumbly and a bit tasteless. The biggest problem was that some of the meat was too chewy. While I like something to get my teeth into, this was too much and could have done with being cooked for longer. Unfortunately overall this was not a pie I could quite Pierate Recommend, although the overall experience at Putney Pies was good." (As with all our reviews, the score only reflects the pie itself, not the venue.)

Steak & Ale (Putney Pies)
Score: 4.89/7
[Condition 5.1, Colour 5.0, Cheapness 4.5, Capacity 5.6, Chewiness 3.9, Content 4.9, Consistency 5.2]

Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review
Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review

Pierateer Rob went for the Beef Bourguignon pie - also £10.95 at time of purchase - and had this to say: "The setting was great - never been in an underground vault like that before, let alone to eat pie there! I was excited to see the range of pies on the menu, even if a lot of them turned out to be casseroles with a pastry lid or even potato bakes!!! But there was still a decent selection of fully encased in pastry pies to choose from.

The Beef in the Beef Bourguignon pie was quite nice, not too chewy and had a good flavour to it. Upon starting the pie I enjoyed the taste, with the filling nicely complementing the pastry. However after a while it was clear the pastry:filling ratio wasn't quite right, especially with quite a dry and crumbly pastry (as Sam has already pointed out). In the end there was some leftover pastry as it just wasn't quite nice enough to eat on its own. But the filling was better than in Sam's pie, and I would happily eat another one if offered, so it sneaks a low Pierate Recommended from me."

Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie
Score: 5.07/7
[Condition 5, Colour 5, Cheapness 4.5, Capacity 5, Chewiness 5, Content 5.5, Consistency 5.5]

Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review
Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Cross-Section
Matt Barr, the owner of Putney Pies was good enough to come and talk to us. He has big plans to take up more space in adjoining arches in order to produce more pies which can be sold around London. His business plans sound enticing and we really wish him well. With some tweaks these could be great pies. We think part of the problem may be that Phil doesn't really like pies himself. Most of the really great pie places have a chef or owner who is fanatical about pies. And we mean fanatical!!!Whilst he is mainly focusing on the business side, we are sure Scotsman Phil can be successful with the right people around him. We wish him all the best in the future!


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, 24 April 2016

Chicken out the Botanist's Birmingham pies

The Botanist Birmingham Chicken and Chorizo Pie Review

Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
Laura and the pies!
It’s now just over a year since The Botanist opened their doors in Birmingham, immediately becoming one of the better pie producers in the heart of Birmingham with a range of pies available on their menu. So when I was invited recently to go back and rate one of their other pies – the chicken and chorizo pie, which I’d had my eye on in the past – I certainly wasn’t going to say no!

I’d been told the pies had been improved since my visits to rate the Steak and Lamb Hotpot pies last year, so I eagerly awaited my visit! On top of that I’d arranged to meet up with award winning Birmingham blogger Laura from Full to the Brum (yep, she loves food puns as much as we do!) as it was British Pie Week and because, well, pie not?! Fans of her blog will know Laura enjoys a good pie too, and has put us to shame by doing her review on what she thought of the pie (having had the same one as me) a few weeks ago! There were some very positive comments in her review, even if she did chicken out a bit by not giving a pie rating! (This in spite of me taking a full “Pierateer in Training” pack with me!!!) No such worries here though – this is what we thought of The Botanist’s Chicken and Chorizo pie:

As previously mentioned I had already tried the Lamb Hotpot pie back when The Botanist had only recently opened, which sadly fell down on our criteria as it was a mash-topped “pie” with pastry sides and base. However I had a much more enjoyable and filling ex-pie-rience in the form of a fully encased Steak and Stout pie the last time I went, which scored 4.5/7. There was however some room for improvement still and I’m delighted to say that The Botanist has delivered on a number of our recommendations.

Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
The clearest improvement was that of the packed capacity and content, which was far better filled and more enjoyable in this Chicken and Chorizo pie. There could have been a little more chicken, but overall this scored a lot better in this new pie. In fact, the scores had improved in nearly every one of our 7 Cs of pie rating, even if it must be remembered this is a different flavour pie filling.

Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie Review
Botanist Chicken Chorizo Pie cross-section
The colour was improved too, a lot more golden on the top and sides even if a little too crisp in places, and while the filling was a slightly shocking bright orange, this was understandable due to the flavours involved! The oozy orange sauce complemented the big chunks of chicken and chorizo (in fact, it was unusual to get such big pieces of chorizo in a pie, as normally they are tiny or even undetectable in pies I’ve rated before!), even if this did mean the larger pieces of chorizo were a bit chewy! However this is expected of the meat, so I can’t really fault it for this!

The condition was pretty good, again well-presented and golden, crisp and well made. The flavours were good – chicken and chorizo is a classic combo! And for £10.95 this meal is quite reasonable for a city centre meal, even if there are a few slightly cheaper options out there. I’d happily recommend it and look forward to trying the other pies on their menu too!

The Botanist Birmingham Chicken and Chorizo Pie
Score: 5.5/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6, Consistency 5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 5, Content 6]


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 "Chicken out the Botanist's Birmingham pies"