Sunday 20 July 2014

Steaking out at Robinsons Bakery

Robinsons Bakery Steak and Guinness, Steak and Kidney and Pork and Apple Pie Reviews

We recently had the pie-leasure of visiting Robinsons Bakery in Failsworth, north Manchester, as part of their 150 year celebrations. Yes, that’s right – one hundred and fifty years of pie making in Manchester’s oldest craft bakery. It’s still family run and – having rated their mince pies very highly in their 149th year – I was delighted to get a tour round the bakery and try a few more of their pies.
Robinsons Bakery Pie Review
Robinsons Bakery Pies - 150 years old!

Having already tried their mince pies, I wanted to give their meat pies a rating. You won’t be surprised to see I went for their steak pies, given how strongly they feature at the top of our pie rankings. The pies in question were the Steak and Guinness Pie and the Steak and Kidney Pie, while I was also kindly given an apple-topped pork pie to rate as well.

You can find out more about Robinsons Bakery and their 150 year anniversary in our “150 Years of Pie Making: Celebrating with Robinsons Bakery” article, so I’m going to get cracking with the pie reviews here:

Overall opinion

The pies were all decent value at just £1.50 each – could have been slightly bigger though with a bit more content to make them a meal. We ended up eating 2 meat pies each for dinner, indicating they are more snack size than meal size. Mind you, we are piefessionals. Both the Steak and Guinness and Steak and Kidney pies were reasonably well filled, though they could have had a slightly stronger capacity. The pies did vary slightly in capacity between the pies we got – as we had bought 5 of each flavour – which indicates a slight inconsistency in the filling levels but is not surprising when they are all handmade, rather than industrially filled.

The colour was quite golden on them all and they held together well, despite quite a bit of travelling being done by the pies! The bases of the pies were a little softer than the crisp lid and sides but this did not detract from the taste of the pie too much, with the pastry lid on the steak pies being particularly nice.

Robinsons Bakery Steak and Guinness Pie Review
Robinsons Bakery Steak and Guinness Pie Review

Steak and Guinness Pie Review
Robinsons Bakery Steak and Guinness Pie Review

The Steak and Guinness pie was the first to be eaten and was quite well filled with tender chunks of steak. There could have ideally been a bit more steak in the pie and the pie was overly peppery, but in general the Guinness gravy complimented the steak well and at just £1.50, this was a good value pie. The pastry was quite crisp and the pie held together well, so with a bit more steak and bit less pepper inside it would be a very well rated pie.

Robinson’s Steak and Guinness Pie
Score: 5.21/7
[Colour 5, Capacity 5, Consistency 5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5, Total: 5.21/7]

Robinsons Bakery Steak and Kidney Pie Review
Robinsons Bakery Steak and Kidney Pie Review

Steak and Kidney Pie Review

The Steak and Kidney pie was reasonably well balanced between the steak and kidney, with a nice gravy. The pie I rated was nicely seasoned – not overly peppery like the Steak and Guinness – so was a lot more enjoyable in flavour. I would have preferred a bit more of a weighting towards the steak but the flavour was good. £1.50 was a decent price for this pie and it was a bit better filled than the Steak and Guinness, but a bit more filling to maximise the capacity would have been ideal and bumped up the score by improving the pastry:filling ratio.

Robinson’s Steak and Kidney Pie
Score: 5.36/7
[Colour 5, Capacity 5, Consistency 5.5, Condition 5.5, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 5.5, Content 5.5, Total: 5.36/7]

Robinsons Bakery Apple Topped Pork Pie Review
Robinsons Bakery Apple Topped Pork Pie Review

Apple Topped Pork Pie

Unfortunately as this pork pie was topped with apple, not pastry, it was not a fully encased pie. The apple layer was reasonably thick, giving a strong tang to the pie and in my opinion was a little too strong. The pork was reasonable quality, though for a top rated pork pie I would expect a bit better. The condition wasn’t perfect on this pie – most notably because it wasn’t fully encased - but the pastry was quite nice, crisp and held the filling in well. In summary I could see why this was a strong seller from the bakery but it loses marks with us as it’s not fully encased. I would say it was a bit too sweet for my pallet and the meat could have been a bit more flavoursome.

Robinson’s Apple Topped Pork Pie
Score: 4.21/7
[Colour 4, Capacity 4, Consistency 4.5, Condition 3.5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 4.5, Content 4, Total: 4.21/7]

With such a strong score for their mince pies (who even featured in our Christmas pie music video!), it was always going to be a hard act to follow for their meat pies. But at just £1.50 each for a hot pie, this is excellent value and I would happily eat again. Both steak pies are Pierate Recommended. While their apple-topped pork pie wasn’t quite for me, I’d look to try a traditional pork pie from them on my next visit. All in all, the hard craft of pie making is in safe hands 150 years on from the first Robinsons Bakery pies!


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