Monday 18 May 2015

Is it Times for a change in pub pie provision?

The Times newspaper reported over the weekend about the decline in pub food sales, as a result of saturation in the market place from "casual dining" establishments such as Nando's and fast food outlets. It proposed that pub chains were becoming increasingly picky when choosing future sites and that pub food sales were under threat. But one reader - Ken McDuff - thinks he has worked out why the pub food market is in jeopardy - and thinks it's pie time things changed...

Stew with a pastry lid pie review
Stew with a pastry lid
In his letter to The Times editor, Ken refers to the diminishing quality of pub food - and in particular focuses on the poor pie provision from a lot of establishments, looking to make a quick buck by providing just a stew with a pastry lid:

"Dare I suggest that a contributory factor to this decline is the lazy approach of certain pubs to the disgusting way they serve the ever popular (or it used to be) steak and ale pie."

He goes on to state that often the pastry lid "has only met the meat seconds before serving" - though in some cases we have found that the pastry "lid" is in fact a completely separate piece of pastry to the stew and has NEVER met the meat, but simply been plonked on top of a ceramic dish without always covering the content of the bowl satisfactorily!

Ken concludes by saying that "it might be helpful if a name could be found for this combination of meat and pastry, but pie it certainly is not."

I think Ken could be trying to get a job on the Pierate Ship with such a thought through and well argued dismissal of the top crust stew with a pastry lid that, sadly, so many pubs up and down the land provide. What often makes this worse in our minds is that so many pub menus do not distinguish whether it is a proper pie - defined by us as "filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid" - or just a stew with a pastry lid. At times even the waiter or waitress do not seem to understand the importance of this distinction, claiming a stew with a lid is a "proper pie" when quizzed by us and our fellow pie eaters. Surely times have to change?

Fortunately some pubs, such as The Windmill, sell fully encased pies

I think my response to Ken's question of a name is to say it as it is. To call a spade a spade. To mention on the menu that a stew with a pastry lid is "a stew with a pastry lid"!

Why re-invent the wheel? Why trick fans of the fully encased pie into purchasing a non-fully encased in pastry stew with pastry lid?

Of course Ken and the Pierateers are not the only ones to be outraged by this phenomenon, as attested to by Colin V Young's response to Ken's letter and an e-petition calling for criminal charges against establishments who call on these stews "pies", which was launched over a year ago and has been reported on by many national newspapers.

Pie Rating 7 Cs
Condition and Capacity are severely compromised in a "stew with pastry lid"
Our view on the Pierate Ship is clear - that for a proper pie it has to be filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid. That's the only way you can challenge for top marks on board the Pierate Ship. Anything else is not a proper pie, and will be heavily criticised while giving it a rating on the 7 Cs of pie rating.

You'll be pleased to know we clearly label all "stews with a pastry lid" as such in our pub pie reviews on the web's leading pie review website. Let's hope that - for the sake of pub pie provision nationwide - pubs start doing likewise!


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