Friday 31 December 2010

Do the pies taste as good on the continent?

Belgium Apple Pie Review

A recent trip on the Eurostar left me pining for pies in Belgium, so I’m sure you will join me in being delighted to find that Apple Pie with or without ice cream is available in Brugges for pie lovers on the continent. While there was a lack of savoury pies in the establishments visited in Belgium, the Apple Pie was a great addition to the puddings menu. You could find the Apple Pie just a stone’s throw away from Brugges Train Station in the Brasserie Tuf Tuf, which is also cleverly located near the winter attraction of the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival just to bring in even more pie-loving punters!

So what does the “Warme Appeltaart met Ijs” taste like - I hear you cry! Well the pastry isn’t firm all the way round the pie, just on the bottom and side of the pudding, which is a first concern when you see that the French menu mentions “tart” rather than “pie” straight out. What’s good to see is that it is classified as a “pie” on the English translation, and although there is a lattice design on top it is still reasonably solid between the nice saucy apple filling. The layer of sugar on top cheekily hides the lattice pastry topping, but it is definitely not your normal solid pastry pie lid. However it does do the same job at the end of the day, and keeps the filling inside the pie well enough. Mixed with the lovely ice cream, the pie does however go down a real treat.

While there may be some debate over the tart/pie consistency of the pudding, I certainly enjoyed it as the Apple Pie it clearly states on the menu. It may not be as crisp a pastry coating as we would expect in Britain, but still well worth going for a visit next time you pop over to Brugges!

Brasserie Tuf Tuf "Warme Appeltaart" (Apple Pie)
Score: 4.3/7

See where this pie ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other pies of a similar flavour. This pie also represented Belgium in the World Cup 2014 Pie Off!

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Sunday 26 December 2010

The Homemade Pie Challenge

We love a good Battle of the Pies here at The Pierate Ship, so I have pitched two heavyweight contenders against each other in the December 2010 Homemade Pie Challenge.

First up is the homemade Steak and Ale pie, made by housemate A.

This really is a stormingly good pie. The meat is succulent with absolutely no chewiness - pure melt in the mouth texture. The gravy is light and the vegetables within are fluffy and flavoursome. A really top pie.

Next up is the homemade Apple Pie, made by housemate B.

It's packed to the rafters with juicy chunks of apple, and the golden pastry is flaking off beautifully. It is an absolute appley delight.

The Battle really has reached fever pitch here, with two such strong contenders in opposite corners. Which will win, the sweet or savoury?

I can't decide. It's not fair to make a man choose between his pies. I think a rematch may be necessary?

Many thanks to both Housemates A and B for cooking such delightful pies, without even being asked!
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Saturday 11 December 2010

Good things come in small packages

The Fitzrovia Pub London, Pie Review

As a product that has been around for hundreds of years you might think there are no original ways to sell a pie. That's why it was good to see that The Fitzrovia pub in London are really thinking outside the pastry. Having recently come under the Taylor Walker brand name they have launched a new menu including something called a Mini Pie Platter. This novel concept includes 4 mini pies and is an easy way of getting towards your weekly allowance of five pies as recommended by us here at Pierate. The pies included are steak & kidney, steak & ale, chicken & mushroom and shepherd’s pie served with mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy.

The price was far from tiny however, this collection of petite pies will set you back a giant £10.49, so not a winner on the cheapness front, even in London. Continuing with the bad news there were no peas (I had forgotten they were advertised) and two of the pies were chicken and mushroom and the steak and kidney was notable for its absence. Upon being served with this I didn't really feel it looked like a meal. It arrived on a piece of wood with a bowl of mash and I wasn't quite sure how I was actually supposed to eat it. I mean where are you supposed to pour the gravy?! I poured the gravy on the mash and ripped bits of pie off and dipped it in. It really made me appreciate how good an invention the plate actually is.

PiesThe good news now and you'll be pleased to know the pies were in fact pretty good. The short crust pastry didn't come up short for these not even pint-sized pies. It gave them the classic golden brown colour which is a very desirable asset amongst gourmet pies these days. The content was maxed out in all these pies with quality meat which was pretty much a necessity give the cramped capacity. These minute morsels boasted a solid, unsoggy pastry, just a bit crumbley and not at all chewy. The cottage pie was tasty and all the better for the pastry around the edge but with its mash potato lid was it really a pie? A debate for another day!

PiesThey say good things come in small packages which seems appropriate in this situation, it was good. Not great, just good. However hats off to Taylor Walker for trying something new, it was a mini adventure.

Score: 4.4/7
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Friday 3 December 2010

Is a family-sized pie too big for one Pierateer?

A large sized pie offers greater value than a smaller sized pie, but I have often been deterred from capitalising on this economic proposition simply because I'm not sure I could manage to eat the whole thing. But I have finally manned up! And I am pleased to announce that I did indeed manage to eat the whole pie (though not in one sitting, I had to reheat some of it in the microwave later). In future, I will not be so hasty in declining a family-sized pie if I can see it makes clear economic sense. I would urge you to do the same.
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Pie-in-a-tin: Will it be canned heat or just canned laughter?

If you cast your mind back to the golden days of 1898. I'm sure we all visited Uruguay that year, and probably passed through a little unassuming town called Fray Bentos. You almost certainly didn't know it at the time, but the very next year Fray Bentos was going to get shot to fame thanks to the production of corned beef there by a company called Anglo. From here, the company of Fray Bentos was developed, diversifying into tinned soups, tinned fruit, and eventually tinned pies. Big business in the UK in the 70s and 80s, Fray Bentos tinned pies have somewhat fallen out of fashion in recent days thanks to the advent of many affordable fresh non-tinned pies on the market. However, they are still stocked by supermarkets; and when they're on offer, a Pierateer can't turn down the opportunity to trial one!

Fray bentos pieI've got my can opener ready. It is a little odd feeling to be using a tin opener to be opening a pie, but let's just roll with it and see what happens. I fully encircle the tin, fold the lid back and...

Fray bentos pieWell initially it certainly doesn't look very appetising, that's for sure. Although I'm surprised that I'm surprised at its appearance, if you understand what I mean. I wasn't sure what sort of condition I was expecting this pie to arrive in - clearly I wasn't expecting it to be cooked and puffy - but both the anaemic, fatty looking colour, and the way the pastry peeled off the surface and stuck to the lid, was a little repulsive in my opinion. But hey, this is what I should have expected, given that the puff pastry was still raw. So I must continue, and follow the instructions on the back of the tin...

Fray bentos piePie in oven...

Fray bentos piePie out of oven. It's risen nicely, and is engaging in some beautiful orange and brown sunset tones. The surface of the pie is mountaineous and ravaged by crevasses. Is this a sign that I left it in the oven for too long? Probably. But oh well. The proof of quality is in the eating of the pie.

Fray bentos pieI wasn't sure of the protocol of eating this tinned pie. I checked the instructions, and it is still unclear as to whether I eat the pie in the tin, or whether I dish it out onto the plate. I opt for the plate option, since this will provide me with a better photo opportunity of the content. And the content is a bit unpleasant actually, if I'm honest. I'm not really sure what's going on beneath that pastry (which is actually very applaudable, especially the gooey "secondary layer" beneath the main puffy bulk). I try some of the filling. The steak has, in my view, a chewy texture consistent with the fact that it's a pie in a tin. Which brings me on to my next point. Why pie in a tin? What is the point? I certainly appreciate that some people do savour the taste, but this pie is no more economical than your average fresh pie, and in my opinion certainly not as nice. In fact, the single tinned pies when they're not on offer are more expensive. Sure, they have a shelf life of infinity (my pie would last until the latter half of 2012) which means they're good for the cupboards...but when might you need such an "emergency pie"? Normal pies last a decent amount of time in the fridge anyway, so it's easy to have one to hand that way. I'm sure you can think of many fanciful situations when a non-refrigeratable pie would be necessary, but in our day to day lives, I will just be sticking for the cold section of my supermarket.

And the rest of this pie review? Well, after I'd finished the gooey secondary layer and picked a bit at the meat, I just wasn't that hungry any more...

Score: 3.8/7

(NOTE: This score includes a boost because of the fact that Fray Bentos allows the consumer to always have a pie to hand when climbing a mountain [although where's the oven?] or during a nuclear fallout).

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Sunday 28 November 2010

So what is a Scotch pie?

If you have ever wondered what a Scotch Pie actually is, then you may be interested to read this post. We also have a more detailed description of what a Scotch Pie is and where you can find the best ones.

A Scotch pie is believed to originate from Scotland and is a small pie that contains just minced meat. They are fully encased in pastry and have a tight encasement, meaning their capacity is strong. They are made with hot water pastry which makes the pastry more solid. In Scotland you can obtain these for as little as £1 or less, which goes someway to explaining why Scotch pies are such a success story and are being eaten around the World!

Scotch pie
I particularly liked the crustiness of the pastry, and the slightly spicy character of the meat. However, I felt the density of the pie detracted somewhat from its overall enjoyable factor - in fact, towards the end of the second pie I felt it was becoming more of a struggle and less of a pleasure. But in any case, it would be unfair to let this trivial negative point overshadow what was otherwise an excellent first experience eating a Scotch pie. I would not hesistate to have one again (although maybe not two in one go).

Scotch pies we've eaten and rated include a 5.96/7 rated Scotch Pie brought down from west Scotland and sold in London at Piebury Corner.

You can see where Scotch pies have rated in our Pierate Pie Rankings or find the range of Scotch pies we've reviewed.

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This Rose is certainly blooming

Imagine this scenario: you're soaking up the sun on the longest pier in the world at 1.34 miles in Southend-on-Sea and you suddenly fancy a pie. Well, you'd be in luck. Simply head back to the mainland and head over the Rose Restaurant on the seafront. For a fiver and a bit of loose change (if you haven't already spent that on the 2p machines!) you can grab a pie and vegetables with gravy!

This dish could be seen as a cheaper cousin to Dino's, given the similarities with the 3 vegetables, pie and gravy. However, unlike at Dino's, both the carrots and the peas were not dissimilar to the tinned variety.

Let's not get carried away with the vegetables though, we're here to review the pies. And what a pie! This quarter pie packed all the required punches for one to munch on a lunch that oozed not only meatylicious gravy but also quality.


Score: 5/7
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Saturday 27 November 2010

Pie at the Museum

One of the main reasons you would want to go to a museum is to find out more about the rich history of pie making in many ancient and modern civilizations across the world...but the second main reason would be to visit their canteen and have a pie yourself. So, weary laden from having already walked round a number of floors in Liverpool’s World Museum (which is highly recommended if you’ve got a few hours to spend in Liverpool having just been at the Ward’s great wedding in Birkenhead), it was an obvious choice to stop off at the canteen and check the produce on offer. And on the day’s menu was a lovely steak pie, with chips and carrots.

So I guess the first thing to say was that this pie probably emulated from the late morning oven baking session that was widespread across the Liverpool museum canteen, during a dramatic ‘era’ in food production (most commonly known as “lunchtime”). James and I decided to hit the food stall and I was delighted to see a very meaty-licious looking Steak pie on the specials for that day. So with food ordered I tucked in. And there was certainly nothing fishy about the pie I ate. In fact, there was no prehistoric gone-off meat from the time of the dinosaurs or any need to send my dinner into space.

The pie itself was rich in big chunks of steak, well cooked and which went down a treat. The mix of meat to pastry was pretty good (considering it was a slice of pie, and therefore lacking a surrounding of pastry on all sides) and the gravy was good too. The only downside for this reviewer was the large pieces of onion in it, but hey, you can’t please everyone! The chips were fine, though not out of this world, and the carrots were nice too. All in all, a nice meal for a slightly expensive price (but hey, the museum was free to look round) and well worth a stop at while exploring the rest of the exhibits.

Score: 5/7
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Friday 26 November 2010

A pie-fect ending to a wonderful day!

With all the thought and fore planning put into any wedding, you want to know that the wedding reception venue will sort out the food and remove any food-related worries from the to-do list come the big day. So what better to know than that the lovely wedding venue of Birmingham Botanical Gardens had apple pie and custard on the menu, which would surely go down a treat! For the last thing you’d want when the wedding bells were ringing would be the alarm bells ringing too, over whether the dessert would be top notch or not! The wedding cake was certainly in tiers, but the guests wouldn’t have been over the quality of pudding (unless the great taste overwhelmed them with emotion!) My only criticism would be, why bother having cheesecake as an alternative?!

So may I start by congratulating the new Mr and Mrs Rogers not only on their marriage (most importantly) but on their dessert choice (second most important thing). So...onto the reviewing!

As you can see, the pie slice was lavishly topped with lovely runny custard which really brought out the tasty apple chunks and complemented the crisp shortbread pastry encasing the pie contents. The pie was a good mix of apple chunks and apple-y flavouring and was in great proportion to the pastry, making it one of the best dessert pies I’ve ever eaten (and believe me, I’ve not held back on my apple pies!) Well worth eating there again...maybe I’ll have to consider it as a wedding venue if I’m ever fortunate enough to need one!

Score: 6/7
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Monday 22 November 2010

An air of disappointment...

Delissia Apple Pie Review

After bubbling with excitement after snapping up 8 pies for £1 from a shop in Uxbridge notorious for a good bargain, the Pierateers were deflated to discover that this promise of great value seemed to be just hot air. We noted a stark contrast between the advertised pie and the actual pie (lid removed):

delissia poundland apple pie
Delissia Apple Pie Box
delissia poundland apple pie
Delissia Apple Pie

Sunny Southend-on-Sea!
The juicy chunks of Bramley apple seemed to have been replaced by a lone smear of apple-y syrup on the base. Perhaps we should have saved the money for £1 worth of 2ps for the amusement arcades in Southend-on-Sea!

There should be nothing upsetting about eating pie, but the air of disappointment in the car after the discovery of the "air-pie" could not be ignored. A cross-sectional view of the pie reveals how these apple pies failed to live up to our expectations:

delissia poundland apple pie
An air of disappointment...

Quite dismal, in our view! The only use for these pies I can think of is perhaps if someone was only able to absorb oxygen through their stomach, in which case these pies could double-up as a sophisticated breathing apparatus.

Delissia Apple Pie
Score: 1/7

See how low this pie ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other pies of a similar flavour.

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Is Dino's still serving up great pies?

The Pierateers are back in town, so it's time to assess whether Dino's of Southend-on-Sea is still serving up the same fine pies in 2010 as it was in 2008.

I'll be the first to admit that this homemade steak pie isn't the cheapest on the market, but when you've made it all the way along the seafront down to Dino's you'll be willing to pay almost anything just to avoid having to walk all the way back to the car with fulminent APD (absent pie disappointment). So at the end of the day, £8.50 is relatively bargainous (plus it's homemade, large, and comes with 3 different types of vegetable). Joking aside, stop being such a skinflint - you're on holiday!

Now, let us all take a moment to admire the colour of this pie:


Look at it there, that beautiful matted Tuscany peach pastry sleeping dormant beneath a glistening volcanic torrent of gravylicious lava. One feels afraid to disturb this sleeping beast with a fork, as if cautious of alerting catastrophic seismic ramifications. But to get to the gold beneath the dragon, one must be courageous - and the Pirateers were exactly thus.

After disturbing the excellent condition in which the pie arrived, one is met by a pie that has merits on both content and character. This pie excels itself in term of capacity, packing in a whopping 17 megaMules per standard unit (mM/U), certainly giving the consumer something to write home about. The chewiness factor was let down purely on the basis of the pastry being too much musty and not enough crusty. The meat itself was actually melt-in-the-mouth perfect. One could even remark that the gravy lent the pie an unusual yet pleasurable consistency.

The vegetable (see above) were an unnecessary but welcome addition to this dish. However, these were of course responsible for increasing the price of the pie. Perhaps in future, Dino's could offer a solo-pie version, where the vegetables are usurped by a lower price? We shall wait and see.

Overall, an excellent pie experience!

  1. Colour - 5.9
  2. Consistency - 4.8
  3. Capacity - 6
  4. Chewiness - 4.5
  5. Cheapness - 3.1
  6. Content - 5.5
  7. Condition - 5.3
  • Total: 35.1
  • Average (mean): 5.0
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Saturday 16 October 2010

A Royally Good Pie

Kings Farm Shop - Steak Pie Review

Please note that we re-reviewed this pie in September 2016, almost 6 years after the initial review, in order to check consistency with other pies we'd rated in that interim 6 year period. This pie therefore now scores slightly less on the 7 Cs but is still a fantastic and Pierate Highly Recommended pie!!!

I'm very happy today to be reviewing one of my all time favourite pies. There are other pies that capture my attention for a time but when I know I need a really good pie this is who I turn to.

kings farm shopBased in rural Buckinghamshire near Wendover, Kings Farm Shop have held the crown of local food champions and regal pie makers for over 25 years. They have a selection of pies fit for a... erm, well a King i guess... have a look at the range of mouth watering family sized pies below.

I have decided to review the all steak pie as its my favourite. To be honest while I love to try other pie flavours if I was stuck on a desert island with only one flavour for the rest of my life it would be steak. It would probably be a King's Farm pie too.

Coming in at just under £5 sterling my wallet loses some of the weight I am bound to put on after consuming this pie. It may feel like kings farm shop piepaying a King's Ransom but once you've got the pie on your plate you can tell you are getting quality. Its appearance is nothing short of beautiful with a perfect golden colour. It has an immaculate, if not entirely consistent, condition which is emblematic of the hand made nature of the pie. Upon cutting the pie the thick gravy immediately oozes out like its just been waiting for this moment, almost ready to burst. The content of the pie certainly fills the whole capacity. The huge chunks of meat are always the tenderest cuts and not at all chewy. There is something incredibly meaty about this pie that makes me wonder how anyone could bear to be a vegetarian. Maybe they have just never tried this pie. The pastry somehow manages to be crispy and yet slips down a treat and doesn't feel heavy at all.

kings farm shop pieThis brings me to the only downside about eating this pie, it is pretty hard to stop eating it! If you don't want to end up the size of King Henry VIII then don't buy too many of them. On this particular occassion I started off eating a third of this family size pie with potato and veg. Not unreasonable you might say, but then I went back and ate another half. After this I had indigestion for two days!! I didn't even know that was possible. So there we go, it might be a personal experience but thats my excuse for not giving it a perfect 7. Will I have more of these pies after this experience? Of course I will, its my duty... For King and Country.

All Steak (Kings Farm Shop)


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

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Wednesday 18 August 2010

What is a Pie? - Explaining the Height to Width Ratio

What is a pie? Listen in. We'll tell you what a pie is right here.

peters piePeter's are a major manufacturer of pies in the UK and it was decided to investigate the difference between what they call a pie and what they call a slice. I've heard some people say that a slice is a type of pie. Let me show you they are quite different! There is an important quality of pies that we have mentioned before on this site, the height to width ratio. A slice and pie differ quite strongly in this area and this determines how much filling you get with your pastry. Hence it is not an arbitrary difference, they won't taste quite the same!

In the red corner we have a Peter's Mexican Chilli Beef Slice weighing in with a width of 15 cm and a megre height of just 2.75 cm. This gives a paltry height to width ratio of about 5.5 to 1. However this was a very nice product, considering it wasn't a pie. Its important to note that other pastry products aren't bad but the best of them will never be as good as the best pies.

Representing pies we have a Peter's Meat and Potato Pie. This has a shorter width of 10 cm and stands tall at 4.5 cm. This gives a beautiful height to width ratio of nearly 2 to 1. This gives the optimum pastry to filling ratio that we've been talking about here on The Pierate Ship. Just look at the picture of the two products side be side. This pie was delicious providing a lovely mellow flavour after the spicy slice. It was also very good value as Peter's normally are.

peters piePeter's are one of the most popular manufacturers of pies in the UK and thus their standards are embedded in the mainstream pastry products market. Therefore they give an excellent bench mark for where the average man on the street draws the line between a pie and a slice.

The line will of course blur at some points but why risk it? Just grab yourself a healthy height to width ratio and don't make the school boy error of getting a slice by mistake!

Click to read about all our Peter's Pie Reviews.

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Wednesday 28 July 2010

A crumble pie?! Can you really get the best of both worlds?

With 50% off the food at the Slug and Lettuce on a Monday, there’s certainly no better opportunity to go for back-to-back pie action! And with a “Crumble Pie” on the menu, I certainly couldn’t go without giving it a try! How would this work? How would the crumble and pie mix? Would it really be classified as a pie?!

Well here’s the scientific part... concentrate!

slug and lettuce crumble pie So as you can see, it definitely is a pie, but with the added bonus of it also having a lovely crumble topping to the pie! And coming with a nice serving of custard, it really did the trick. The caramel and apple mixed well – the apple being nicely crunchy but mixing well with the apple filling and nice pastry. The crumble topping added some nice crunch to the pie, and made a fitting lid to the pie. The only question is... why have I not had a crumble pie before?!! A great pudding, well worth saving a bit of space from the pie first course for.

Score: 5.5/7
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No slug or lettuce in my pie!

Once again the bright lights of Birmingham provide the perfect opportunity for a pie with a mate. And what better plan than to head to one of the canal side pubs which provides 50% off all food on a Monday – the Slug and Lettuce! But don’t let the name put you off – neither of the afore mentioned foodstuffs were getting anywhere near my pie!

So I went for the Steak and Mushroom Pie, the only real meatylicious pie on the menu (as, let’s face it, the cottage and fish pie aren’t really pies – see “Grab a slice of the action”). The pie came in its own little dish, with a great mound of light puff pastry. Inside were some decent chunks of steak, as well as a mix of mushroom and onion gravy. Those who know me well will no doubt be unsurprised that I would rather have forgone the onionisation, but fortunately it didn’t bring the pie down too much. The meat was pretty good and the light puff pastry certainly tasted good. You could however argue that the pie wasn’t the biggest I’d ever seen. At half the normal price, this made up for the lack of size, and it was swiftly followed by...

Score: 4.6/7
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Tuesday 27 July 2010

A taste of Ireland...the Steak and Guinness pie

O'neills pie O'neills pie When you go into an Irish pub, you expect a good Irish pint. But what better than to see that the local Irish pub, O’Neills, also provides a special taste of Ireland when they add good old Guinness to their Steak pie! The Guinness did add a bit of a different flavour to the standard ale or non-ale gravy of its Steak-y rivals. Certainly worth a visit and the pie was good (although the pastry was slightly dry and I didn’t quite manage it all.) The added bonus was that you could also watch the Brazil-Chile world cup game while you finished off your pie!

O'neills pieThe pub owners had also painted the ingredients list to the wall, so that you can see what was in the pie and potentially give it a go yourself! The only problem was that the ingredients did not actually match the contents of the pie, for there were no raisins and certainly no bacon in the steak pie! But I’m pretty sure all the rest of the ingredients were in there, and the pie was still pretty good. Well worth a visit for the taste of Ireland – and who knows, maybe you’ll find a lil leprechaun with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow... oh, sorry, got carried away there.

Score: 5.0/7
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Monday 19 July 2010

Another one from Morrisons.

morrisons pie
Making the most of my free time and local Morrisons, I picked up another pair of pies today for lunch, this time chicken and gravy. From the 'wedge' category, these pies are slightly pricer at 2 for £2.50. However, I was prepared to pay the little bit extra over the traditional round pies for the slightly larger size and the cute little chicken on the pastry so you know just what meat is in your pie (the steak pies in the same category have little pastry cows on top).
I was overall a bit disappointed by this pie. Whether it was because it was chicken or because it was a wedge, it wasn't quite as nice as the previously reviewed round steak pie. The pastry tasted nice, but while I was heating the pie, it had dried out and so was quite hard. Inside, while the quality of meat was alright, with only a few small pieces of fat, you could tell that they were cheap cuts of meat. For the size of the pie, I felt that there could have been a bit more content to it.

Score: 4/7

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Saturday 17 July 2010

Morrisons give you More.

Most Morrisons that I've come across have a pie counter, making them the best supermarket as voted by The Pierateers.
However, if you are going to have a pie counter, you need to have good pies. So just how good are Morrisons pies?
Morrisons' pie counter has a wide selection of both sweet and savoury pies, most of which come in an offer - 2 for £1 or something like that. So you can get one to share with a fellow Pierateer, or just have them yourself if you are hungry. These particular pies (steak) cost £1.50 for 2.
Morrisons pie
The benefit of pies brought from the pie counter is that they are pre-cooked which means you only have to heat them up when you get home!! Though they don't come with heating instructions, it isn't too hard to bung them in the microwave or oven until they are steaming, or you can eat them cold if you prefer! For 75p each, these pies weren't half bad. Though I would have preferred slightly more gravy, it did give more room for meat. My only disappointment was the hunk of fat that I mistook for a piece of juicy steak on my last mouthful. Sadface.
However, for the price, I was surprised there wasn't more hunks of fat. All in all, a brilliant lunch time treat.

Score: 5/7
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So what are Urban Pies like?

Chicken and Ham and Steak and Mushroom Pie Reviews from Urban Pie

Last month, Pierateer RAS told us all about the great fast food bar that is Urban Pie. Two reviewers went to the Birmingham branch yesterday to grab a tasty lunch bite! It was our first time at Urban Pie, and due to all the great reviews we were expecting the best. We were not disappointed. At just under £4 for any pie, the cost of these pies is not the lowest, but for the quality and at a restaurant, the price was actually quite decent. You can choose many extras with these pies including, mash, cheese, gravy and curry sauce. Mash costs an extra £1.75 but you get such a large helping, these two reviewers shared a portion (with some yummy cheddar cheese on top!) I was a first taken aback by the large selection of pies and didn't know what to choose, but settled on a lovely chicken and ham number. My fellow reviewer choose a steak and mushroom, though he wanted plain steak they had sold out because they were so popular. While none of these reviewers are vegetarian, I was surprised at the choice one had if one was so inclined.

Urban pie So, the chicken and ham. Firstly, I was pleased that chicken was teamed up with something other than mushroom. While I will have mushroom in a pie if there is little other choice, I prefer the slimy fungus to be absent from my delicious pie. At first glance, I could tell that this pie was professional, the lovely crispy pasty was the warm golden colour you expect from a high quality pie, and it was in a great condition. These pies are all made the same, round, small but quite a deep fill giving them a large capacity. Inside, was was a good content of gravy and lots of good quality meaty chunks, making the pie slip easily down the throat (so low chewiness - which I like). This pie was good right down to the last bite - so very consistent.

Urban pie The steak and mushroom was also spectacular: great, creamy gravy with very high quality steak chunks.

Overall, Urban Pie scores very highly. While some might say the pies are on the slightly small size, with a nice large dollop of mash, this meal will fill you right up. Additionally, the pies themselves were still a little pricey for someone on a tight budget, so it might be best to visit at the end of the day to get a reduced price! Also there is that bonus of INSTANT PIE!

Urban Pie Chicken and Ham
Score: 6/7

Urban Pie Steak and Mushroom
Score: 6/7


See where this pie ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other pies of a similar flavour.

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Monday 5 July 2010

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken – lay a lil pie for me...

Sainsbury's Chicken in Gravy Pie

So the lads were visiting a Saino’s store tup north the other week and happened to spot a Chicken in gravy pie which would look good with a few cheeky crispy fries. So they thought “why not?!” and bagged a golden, crisp pie with nice pastry, filled with a decent amount of chicken chunks and a great complimentary gravy. Well worth a repeat purchase, although it was slightly small so you may want to think about getting a couple!

Sainsbury's Chicken in Gravy Pie
Score: 4.8/7

See where this pie ended up in the Pierate Pie Rankings or find other pies of a similar flavour.

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Sunday 4 July 2010

Grab a slice of the action - putting alternative pastry products to the sword

There's been a lot of chit-chat recently about alternative pastry products. These include such things such as slices, pasties and tarts among many others. We have even been discussing the mythical Piezza. The question often comes back to why are these not pies? Well when you look at slices and pasties in particular they definitely do fulfil one of the major attributes of a pie, as stipulated by the British Pie Awards which says 'A pie is deemed to be a filling totally encased in pastry'. HOWEVER this is an incomplete definition, there are many who would lead you astray in the world of pies but here at we are going to set the record straight once and for all. Let me break it down for you.

1. A pie is deemed to be a filling totally encased in pastry.
2. A pie must have sides, a base and a discernible lid made from a separate piece of pastry.

Why is the lid so important I hear you ask? There are many reasons that the lid means so much to people all around the world. It adds a plethora of ways to eat your pie. Some like to take the lid off and eat the filling first. Others love to dip chips in. Who doesn't love that moment the knife first cuts into the lid of a freshly cooked pie? Some psychologists have speculated that the round golden pastry lid subconsciously reminds us of the Sun, hence we think we are eating something large and consequently find it more fulfilling.

However, the importance of sides to a pie is often overlooked. This gives the pie a height lacked by other pastry products. Hence a pie will generally have a better height to width ratio and thus more filling to pastry compared to alternative pastry products. The sides also help contain the filling much more effectively than can be found elsewhere.

Don't even get me started on products that are not fully encased in pastry, these tend to be lacking in enough pastry, especially those so called 'top-crust' pies. Basically a stew with a paltry pastry lid.

Remember, if you are going to grab a slice of the action make sure you grab a slice of pie!
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Saturday 19 June 2010

A pie to get behind the lads with?!

So with the FIFA World Cup 2010 in full swing, what better way to support the lads than to get a World Cup pie on the day of England-Algeria. And Firkins (the west midlands bakery) were offering a special pie offer for all the lads. In fact, the World Cup pie offer had been spotted earlier in the week, but the reporter had waited until the day of the second England game to enjoy the pie and a winning performance from the lads.

firkins pie
So you will join me in being aggrieved that – just like the England performance later that evening – the build up was huge but this was potentially the worst performance I’d ever seen! While at first sight it looked like a nice, golden pie ready to take away those lunchtime hunger pains, it did in fact turn out to be a major league let-down.
firkins pie
Firstly, the pie wasn’t really sold hot or cold – in my view it was luke warm, as it had been left in a heater cupboard for too long at a low temperature. Secondly, the content was not lovely chunks of steak in a nice runny gravy, but was instead this gooey, disgusting mix of lukewarm meaty/gravy gloop which, in my opinion, did not taste good in the slightest. The only saving point for the pie was its golden pastry, but even this was not enough to make it possible for the reviewer to finish the pie. I thought it really was that bad. 

Score: 1/7
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Tuesday 1 June 2010

If ONLY there was a fast food restaurant dedicated to pies.....

It’s not hard to find a McDonalds, Burger King or KFC lining the High Street or out-of-town retail park. But let’s face it – none of them are the pie capital of Britain. And you could argue that the local chip shop never has the range of pies that you truly desire for a change, even if pukka pies do provide consistent pie quality. But what if you want a bit more class in your pie?

Well fear not guys, for the great minds behind Urban pie have spotted a niche in the market place for some top quality, but fairly reasonably priced, pies. Their motto says it all:

“At urban pie our passion is to create gourmet, handmade pies, deep filled with the finest ingredients...enjoy!”

Such a great variety of pies, including specialising at Christmas (roast dinner pie) or the mashed potato covered cottage pie – they seem to have everything covered! And with half price pies after 5pm, surely it’s gotta be a winner with the Birmingham public...and now Leicester too! Surely it won’t be long till global domination. You heard it here first!

To see a list of all the Urban Pies we have reviewed see our Pies Categorised page!

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Monday 31 May 2010

Tesco Apple Pies – do they need a little more help?

The old slogan goes - “every little helps”. But when you eat a sweet pie from Tesco, have they helped enough? Is it crammed with filling? Is it the right sweetness? Or do they need a little more help in making their pies simply the best?

Well, tucking into my Tesco apple pie gives me a chance to compare this store own brand to the professionals choice of the exceedingly good apple pies made by Mr Kipling. On first glance, it looks fine if slightly over-sugary on the top. It's a good effort in the design, with a cheeky apple on top, even if it is an own brand.

Once a bite has been taken, it certainly has a good capacity and amount of filling and you certainly wouldn’t say no to eating another one, but unfortunately the first thought is definitely “overly-sweet”. It does detract a bit from the nice apple taste, with the filling and sugary coating on the pastry giving it an overly sweet edge. You would hope that a little less sugar would definitely help the pie out and make it even better.

Score: 4.5/7

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Wednesday 26 May 2010

Do pies taste as good from Hollands?/Good things come to those who wait!

Its the age old problem. Your pie will take 45 minutes in the oven but you want it NOW if not sooner. This is why a quick 'zap' in the microwave is often the preferred choice of pie lovers everywhere. But it is generally considered that pies cooked by this method don't taste as mouth wateringly delicious, but is it true? Time for a pierate official verdict which will use similar rock solid scientific taste-o-meter techniques that were employee in the Welsh pie taste. The taste bud doesn't lie.

But there's no need here to go with an already reviewed pie. Hold onto your hats because we're about to attempt a science experiment with a review of two new pies! People with a weak heart are advised to stop reading now because the excitement might just be too much for you.

Introducing Holland's Pies, beloved pie makers in the North West of England since 1851. Nowadays they are part of a large food group and their pies can often be found cheap in the supermarkets, although this may be limited to the Northern reaches. The two pies purchased were for instance on a two for £1.50 offer in Morecambe Morrisons. This scores highly for cheapness but lowers my expectations of the standard of product, maybe unfairly because it could always be a bargain.

I chose a Potato and Meat Pie as the microwave option and a Just Steak Pie as the oven cooked pie of choice. Why, you ask, did I not chose two pies the same to make it a fair test? Well cos I didn't want to eat two pies the same and this is my test and I make up the rules.

On the left we have the P&M and the right-hand pie is the steak. You can see from this picture how the pastry from the steak pie had crumbled. Hollands advertise their pastry as of excellent quality and for the steak pie I agree with this. The crumblyness (that mythical 9th C) is in this particular pie a good thing. It also has an excellent taste whereas often pastry can have a good texture but lack any real taste at all. It is certainly different to the competition. However this is where the microwave option fails the P&M pie as it's pastry had a pretty horrible texture and was overly chewy. Fillingwise they were pretty similar despite differing cooking methods. So that it is then in summary, if you want pastry perfection then remember good things come to those who wait.

Now a quick rundown of the pie content and the scores on the doors. They both had nice gravy and a good capacity. However the actual meat and potato was a bit mushy with not a great consistency. The steak was a bit too chewy and a bit cheap in my opinon. These pies to me seem like a mass market contender rather than anything resembling a premium product. But overall they are really cheap and outstanding value when on offer. Recently this seems to be happening regularly so maybe stock up when the chance comes.

Potato and Meat Pie (microwave) - 4.1/7

Just Steak Pie (oven) - 4.7/7
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