Sunday 6 July 2014

How Great is the Great North Meat Pie?

Great North Pie Company “Great North Meat Pie” Beef Pie Review

Those who are regulars to Pierate will know we recently looked at whether Great Britain really has got pie talent. And it came as no surprise that it was a resounding yes! But we hadn’t yet got our hands on a pie from the Great North Pie Company, who are literally putting “great” into their great pie names! So when pitted against the 7 Cs of pie rating, could they deliver?

Rounding off my Manchester #PieTour was a trip to Tib St Tavern – surprisingly enough on Tib Street, central Manchester. A lively city centre hangout, particularly on a sunny Saturday evening with the World Cup football on, the Tib St Tavern serve up pies from the Great North Pie Co alongside a range of other bar snacks. The pie offerings seem to change daily, with the specials board upon arrival indicating what pie offerings you have available each visit. While this makes it a bit harder to plan if you have a favoured pie of choice, for us it was a great opportunity to finally get a Great North Pie Co pie under our belts.

The Great North Pie Co are well known to the Pierateers following several well received pies at the British Pie Awards. However until now we hadn’t managed to locate one due to primarily geographical difficulties. With the Pierateers based primarily in the south of England and the Great North Pie Co unsurprisingly based in the north, our paths had not previously crossed. This all changed in Manchester on our #PieTour, with a visit to the Tib St Tavern recommended by @BadmanMedia.

There were 4 pies on offer that evening – two meat and two vegetarian. I went for the “Great North Meat Pie”, which is sold as R&Js Yorkshire Beef, free range pork, black pudding and a range of herbs.

For me, the first impressions I got from the outer pie view and when cutting through the pie were that this pie was rammed to capacity with content but did not look overly moist. Often pies ooze out gravy when they are cut open, but this one did not. In fact there was actually a gravy boat provided with the pie and chips, something that we always query as Pierateers. In our opinion, a pie is a self-supported item and should not require an addition of gravy or anything else to make it enjoyable. This is of course not to say that it can’t be thoroughly enjoyed with a side, such as mash, chips or gravy, but the pie should not be reliant on these things. After all, we are pierate and not pieandgravyrate!

So with the gravy put on hold for now, I cracked into the pie alone – nothing added to bias my viewpoint on how the pie rated. My thoughts were that this pie was very well filled with meat, with a nice, crisp outer shell of pastry all the way round. Whereas some pies suffer from a soggy bottom, this pie really did not. This is probably partly explained by the lack of gravy in the pie, leaving very little to make the pie base soggy. However the meat wasn’t dry – it did well to retain quite a bit of moisture, but the outer pastry shell was a bit dry in places and could have done with a bit of gravy in the pie in my view. I ate the first half of the pie without gravy and then added some gravy to the second half, which helped me enjoy the pie much more.

The meat itself was beef based and my main thought was that the pie tasted very much like a burger in pastry. It was after all that type of meat content – very packed into the pastry casing, with beef, pork and black pudding amongst a number of herbs and spices. It certainly screamed of “artisan”! I feel that “artisan” is sometimes overused in the pie community, but these pies from the Great North Pie Co certainly are. Lots of flavours going on; certainly not your typical “steak and ale”! In my opinion it was a little too peppery but in general the flavour was good. Not quite what I had expected when ordering a beef pie (normally you get beef chunks or minced beef – this was neither!) but certainly enjoyable. I’d expect a pie they make with chunks of meat and a bit of gravy to score even higher than this one.

The pastry was crisp and held the pie content in well, particularly as it was so packed. When I first looked at the pie I wondered if it was a bit small, but as it was so full to capacity it was still very filling and it filled the hole. I’d say the pastry:filling ratio was pretty spot on, as the pastry was quite thin but held together well, with a packed filling. There are bigger pies out there but it was a decent size for a meal out. At £8.95 for pie, chips (or mash) and veg, this is a decent price for a city centre tavern pie meal.

In summary, a decent pie from the Great North Pie Co. Something a bit different in terms of taste and texture, a little lacking in moisture but complimented with gravy that was fine. I’d prefer it a little less peppery, but for the type of meat pie it was I’d happily have another and certainly look forward to getting my hands on some other great pie flavours from the Great North Pie Co!

Great North Pie Company “Great North Meat Pie” (Beef)
Score: 5.32/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5.75, Consistency 5.25, Condition 5.25, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 5, Content 5, Total: 5.32/7]

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