Sunday 17 July 2011

Eel-ly good pie

L. Manze - London Pie & Mash Shop Review

Eel and Pie Houses have been providing traditional London pies since the 19th century and although less of the historic shops can be found today the Pierateers certainly weren't about to let this noble tradition pass them by. The L. Manze shop on Walthamstow High Street came highly regarded as one of the oldest having been established in 1928. The Manze family are a famous name within the Eel and Pie world having 3 different members of the family still with shops bearing their names today.

See our article on traditional Pie & Mash Shops to understand more about the history of these quaint old establishments

It is so unexpected to see such a lovely old fashioned eatery stuck inbetween the pound shops of Walthamstow. Upon entering it is like stepping back in time. There is a lovely marble and tile interior with narrow wooden booths. It is good to see a healthy stack of empty pie dishes on the counter and also a sign saying they had sold out of eels that day, clearly business is good. Although saddened that I couldn't grab myself some jellied eel that is a story for another day as of course I had my eyes on the pies.
I grab myself a mince pie and settle down in a booth. I'm not sure I have ever sat in such an uncomfortable seat, they were so very narrow it seems hard to imagine they were designed for real people. Fortunately for Manze's 'comfortable' is not one of the 7 Cs and this will not affect their rating.

But the real question is, do these pies provide anything special? While the offer of jellied eel is special, are their pies any different from the local chippy? The answer is most emphatically yes. The pies are served with mash potato and a thick parsley sauce which they call 'liquor' and is allegedly made using eel stock. I loved the liquor and appreciated the uniqueness of the marine flavouring. The pastry itself had a crunchiness around the edges and a crispness in the middle which turned gooey and flaky in the centre. They must use pastry and cooking techniques that I haven't come across before because it really was different. However this worked in it's favour because it isn't often that a Pierateer finds something unique and I loved it. The meat seemed to be consistently good quality with plenty of gravy. Overall I think every pie lover should take the opportunity to try one of these pies if they visit London. If not you can also order online from M. Manze, a separate shop originating from the same Manze family who sell similar pies.

On the way out of this historic establishment I noticed they had put saw dust on the floor. This doesn't happen in my local McDonald's or any other eatery I frequent so I questioned the motivation behind it. They said it was done as tradition and it soaked up spills. This really summed up the experience for me, unashamedly traditional. Please find a pie and mash shop near you and keep this original 'fast food' alive.

Traditional Minced Beef (L. Manze)


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