Saturday 17 January 2015

Pie & Vinyl - Music To My Ears

pie and vinyl record cafeSouthsea's Pie & Vinyl Record Cafe - Pie Reviews

If music be the food of love, play on. BUT if your love is for pies and pies are food then surely music is the pie of love of pies. I am not quite sure what this means but I think implies I need to eat more pies whilst listening to music.... which is pretty convenient as I am just about to review Pie & Vinyl, a shop which is unique in the fact that it brings pies and music together.

Based in Southsea in Portsmouth this is a lovely little place. It is half casual restaurant and half vinyl music shop (plus occasional gig venue). I love the quirky and vintage style that they have, it certainly is quite different to anywhere else I have been before. Most of the things in the restaurant look like they were cobbled together from a jumble sale. To get this retro style must have taken considerable effort and I love it! Located on a side street not far from the sea front you might initially wonder how they manage to stay in business. But upon further inspection it seems like quite a trendy area and this alternative venue fits right in.

pie and vinyl
The shop is split in two, to the left is the Restaurant and to the right in the music shop
After taking some time to admire my surroundings I need to decide on what pie to order. This is not all that easy given that there are a few flavours unlikely anything I have tried before. There are some made in house and some imported from Pieminister, Buckwell (who are a local butcher) and Sweetie Pie (who specialise in gluten free and vegan products). The only option was to order a load of pies! I was really keen firstly to try their own pies so I ordered a Chili Beef pie to eat in. But I made a couple of mistakes here. I ordered the liquor as the sauce (because I like that they had this traditional option) despite knowing that it wouldn't really go with the filling. I can’t believe I made such an error after my many years of pie reviewing experience. The pie came COVERED in the sauce and the flavour of it made it difficult to isolate the pie taste. I also made another error, I thought that the menu said that it was a default of salad with your pie but mine arrived with peas and mash. This wasn’t ideal as I had just had a heavy pie already at the football so was feeling rather full. But anyway I plowed on through what was a pretty decent, and unique, offering.

Chili Beef

pie and vinyl plate pieCondition – 5.0 out of 7 – Difficult to tell when it is covered in so much liquor but the pie itself had no obvious imperfections and looked nice with it’s HUGE pastry crimp. But I was concerned that the thick, shortcrust pastry could be dry...
Colour – 5.0 out of 7 – From what I could see it was quite glossy and appealing.
Cheapness – 5.8 out of 7 – The meal cost £6.95 which for a proper sit down meal was really quite good if you compare it to the average pub pie. Plus this was not a mass produced product as a cheap pub pie normally is.
Capacity – 4.1 out of 7 – This is one area I thought the pie was lacking, there was a lot of pastry to filling and it wasn't completely filled with the big domed lid having an air gap.
Chewiness – 5.0 out of 7 – Despite looking like it might break your teeth, the pastry was actually just nice and crunchy. The beef was in small chunks and not chewy, it was accompanied by a lot of beans which of course slipped down easily, a bit too easily, I would have liked a more to get my teeth into.
Content – 4.3 out of 7 – For me this was a very mild taste, it wasn’t at all spicy, perhaps so that it doesn’t offend some customers. I would have liked a bit more of a kick given that I ordered chili. I loved that they added beans as this made the taste stand out from other chili pies. Overall a pleasant, sweet tomato taste. The pastry also tasted good on it’s own.
pie and vinyl chili beefConsistency – 4.5 out of 7 – I found that the liquor tasted a bit ‘flour-y’ so I would avoid that next time, but given that I am reviewing the pie, it is one I would order again given the price, the lovely venue and that the pie did something a bit different.

Texan Chilli Beef / Explosions in the Pie (Pie & Vinyl [PO5 3AY])

After this I felt far too full for another pie so ordered the rest to take home. Unfortunately this then relied on myself cooking them correctly which I think I might have failed with for some of them. I grabbed a Fish & Chip pie as I couldn’t resist trying this flavour! I ask got a Chicken and Brocolli from the Buckwell butchers selection, a Gluten Free Vegan Thai Green Curry pie and a Gluten Free Bumbleberry pie made by Sweetie Pie. I handed the gluten free pies over to our Gluten free reviewer Pierateer ALE. She refused to give the Bumbleberry pie an official review because it lacked enough pastry to meet our definition of a pie but she did say it was ‘heavenly’. It was gone very quickly as it slid down so well. The filling was foamy and had a lovely, strong berry taste combined with a coconut taste. Despite being £2.75 it would have scored well had it been a pie. The Gluten Free Vegan Thai Green Curry didn’t go down so well with ALE. I am not sure that she was impressed that I brought her a vegan pie. You do question what they actually make the pastry out of if they can't use flour, butter or egg (we normally use egg to hold our GF pastry together). I think it is best if the review of this one doesn't see the light of day, but how about the other two? The fish and chip was especially good, see the score break down below.

sweetie pie bumbleberry pie
Bumbleberry Gluten Free Pie
pie and vinyl vegan pie
Thai Green Curry Vegan and Gluten Free Pie

Fish & Chips
pie and vinyl fish and chip pie

Condition - 5.0 out 7 – This pie was the same in style and appearance as the chili beef, it was another of the Pie & Vinyl in-house pies but not covered in liqour this time!
Colour – 5.0 out of 7
Cheapness – 4.2 out of 7 – To take away these pies cost £3.95 which doesn’t seem as good value as the eat in pie. I am not sure if I still paid the 'eat in price' despite taking them away. If so they should also have a lower 'take-away' price. They are decent size but not huge. It isn’t too much over the average for a gourmet pie and these aren’t mass produced.
Capacity – 4.8 out of 7 – Same size and shape as the Chili beef but better filled.
Chewiness – 5.3 out of 7 – The filling was pretty mushy and slipped down really easy, but again a bit too easy if anything. The same crunchy pastry as the chili beef but I think I slightly over cooked it because digging my knife in sent a piece flying across the room!
Content – 6.3 out of 7 – Absolutely fabulous, this really captured the taste of traditional fish and chips, soft, stodgy and moist, it was cooked so well in its pastry case, eat your heart out M&S! There was a layer of mushy peas, then chunky mash then a slice of fish. It was a great idea to go for chunky mash rather than chips to avoid it drying out. It was well seasoned with salt and vinegar. The mix of tastes meant it didn’t get boring.
pie and vinyl fish and chipsConsistency – 6.0 out of 7 – This worked so well together, the taste of the pastry complementing the filling and the individual elements were consistently good. This pie bags a 'Pierate Recommended' award.

Fish & Chips (Pie & Vinyl [PO5 3AY])

Chicken & Broccoli
buckwell pie
The pie looks big from the top...

Condition -  4.0 out 7 – And now for something completely different. This was a very traditional 'oval' shaped pie. It was scored on top and looked nice enough but nothing very special.
Colour – 4.0 out of 7 - I had this in the oven ages because it just wouldn't brown up. I think perhaps I was supposed to baste it in egg first but there were no instruction so I didn't know to do this. I also had no idea of recommended cooking times. It eventually browned a little but was a bit too matt and dull looking.
Cheapness – 3.5 out of 7 – I do slightly dread these 'oval' shaped pies, the oversized pastry lid makes them look bigger than they are. They are a lot narrower at the base and hence tend to lack enough filling. Again this was £3.95 and for the size it didn't seem great value for a take away pie (perhaps they would be cheaper direct from the butchers). What does save it is that the filling had a high proportion of chicken.
...but is smaller underneath.
Capacity – 4.0 out of 7 – As discussed in the 'Cheapness' it didn't have a great Capacity. But it was completely filled which I love to see!
Chewiness – 4.7 out of 7 – The filling had a brilliant texture, it seemed like good quality meat. The shortcrust pastry was unfortunately dry but I think this was because I cooked it too long.
chicken broccoli buckwell southsea butchersContent – 6.0 out of 7 – Despite some criticism of this pie, it does well in the most important category, it tasted great! there was a nice, creamy, meaty sauce. There was load of chicken and the broccoli added something a bit different to the taste without doing anything too weird.
Consistency – 4.2 out of 7 – Good filling but the pastry could have been better, I would like to try one of these again as I don't know if I have done it justice.

Chicken & Broccoli (Pie & Vinyl/Buckwells [PO5 3AY])

It has taken me a while to write this review but I am please to finally have ticked of Pie & Vinyl which is a very special place and well worth a visit. I notice they have now changed their menu and increased the prices (but only slightly). They still do the Chili Beef (now called Explosions in the Pie) and the Chicken & Broccoli but sadly the Fish and Chip pie seems no longer, which is a shame as it really put a smile on my face! There are plenty of other interesting flavours like gammon cooked in dandelion & burdock, a breakfast pie and a double cheeseburger pie! Hence, I am going to keep my loyalty card in the hope that I do get to visit again.


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