Friday 1 May 2015

Pies for Sail at The Windmill

The Windmill, Mayfair - Steak and Kidney Pie Review

There are some places with great reputations for pies but for whatever reason it takes us a long time to get there to review them. The Windmill is one such place. It is in Mayfair, London and with all the other London pies we have reviewed, why is it not one of them?! However, it has eluded us for some time, in part because their restaurant is closed for much of the weekend, so I was excited to finally pay them a visit on Day Four of British Pie Week 2015.
The Windmill Mayfair

What a time to visit. The Windmill seemed quite busy but when it is a pub with a specific 'Pie Room' of course it would be busy in British Pie Week! The Windmill had really got into the spirit of British Pie Week with a competition. If you could eat 5 different pies in the week you would get a 6th pie free, along with a t-shirt! I have eaten a lot of pies during British Pie Week in the past, but even I was surprised at this high requirement. But apparently there are some people who manage it!

The Windmill Mayfair
Rosa is a long time Pierate supporter
The Windmill is one of those places that will get any pie fan excited. The Lower Pie Room (yes, there are actually two pie rooms, eat your heart out Newman Arms!) where I was eating was a bit of shrine to pies and they seem to be particularly proud of their Steak & Kidney pie. There were pictures and placemats all proclaiming it as a 'Champion Steak & Kidney Pie' and 'Three times national winner'. I was unsure what award it had actually won, but they certainty seemed confident in the Steak & Kidney's quality. There was a whole menu devoted to pies and some interesting flavours. Haggis was tempting but in the end I thought I had to see what all the fuss was about and ordered the Steak & Kidney. Could it challenge near the top of our best pies in London ranking?

Firstly, I was delighted when this pie came out and it was fully encased in pastry. This was the pie experience I had been hoping for. Pierateer RAS and myself had visited The Windmill's sister pub (The Guinea Grill) in 2012 and found the pies were top-crusts. Not a hint of that here though.
The pie came served on a long rectangular plate, with nicely presented mash and veg. The pie did not look particularly large or spectacular, but I think the wonderful, crispy, golden pastry hinted at something quite special. It is amazing what a good glaze can do to a pie.

Slicing into the pie revealed there were two different aspects to the pastry, the crispy outside cracked to reveal predominately soft gooey pastry inside. The pie was packed with a thick, rich meaty filling which, happily for me, did not taste too strongly of kidney. What delighted me most was the fact that they had used suet crust pastry. I think this gives a wonderful taste to the pastry as well as a rich meaty flavour to the whole product, as with Paul's pies which we so highly regard. In fact this was very similar to Paul's Pies but with softer pastry.
Windmill Mayfair Steak & Kidney Pie
How did it rate? I would straight away put this as the best Steak & Kidney pie I have ever had. The meal was small for the £12.50 price but I found it filling. Whilst it might be more expensive than some, for the quality, the location and the overall experience I considered the price was decent value. I am very keen to go back and try some more of The Windmill pies. See the score breakdown below. Overall the score of 6.25 puts this second on our list of best London restaurant pies, quite an achievement given how many places we have reviewed. It also means this pie gains 'Pierate Highly Recommended' status and slots in inside our Top 30 pies as the top Steak & Kidney pie.

Condition – 5.50 out of 7 – The presentation of the meal looks gourmet but the pie itself is unassuming in appearance.
Colour – 6.95 out of 7 – Am I allowed to give a perfect 7? I just can't imagine a better colour, this is what made me realise the pie would be great.
Cheapness – 5.40 out of 7 – It is better to have a small, really good pie than loads of a really bad pie (cf the pie which made me sick)
Capacity - 6.50 out of 7 - The domed lid indicated a strong amount of filling. No real air gap to speak of.
Chewiness - 6.50 out of 7 - Soft and moist beef, the texture was super. If anything the texture of the pastry was a little too soft and it lacked the structure I would expect from the ultimate pie.
Content - 6.30 out of 7 - Rich and meaty but I can't get away from the fact that Kidney isn't my favourite...
Consistency - 6.60 out of 7 - It worked extremely well with the suet pastry complementing the beefy filling. Whilst there wasn't much to criticise this pie for, could another flavour challenge the top of our pie charts?

After the meal it was very nice of the manager, Karl, to come over from The Guinea Grill to talk to us. He seemed pretty passionate about pies and creating new flavours. I suspected that the pie flavours written on the chalk board could be subject to change based on his latest creations. I also learnt that The Windmill use the same pie filling recipes as The Guinea Grill, however, they just choose not to fully encase them at The Guinea (madness!). I did also get to the bottom of the issue about the awards their Steak & Kidney pie had won. Apparently, it was a now defunct Steak & Kidney pie award in London and the three wins were over a decade ago, before the British Pie Awards had even started! It may seem that this is somewhat living on past glories but they have certainly not rested on their laurels. This is still a great pie and with a changing pie menu, I would certainly recommend a visit to The Windmill.

Note: We have suggested to Karl to enter the British Pie Awards but he says that because the pies have to be pre-cooked, it wouldn't work with his suet pastry very well. Perhaps it's about time there was a restaurant pie award as part of the BPA or elsewhere?

Steak & Kidney (The Windmill [W1S 2AZ])


1 comment:

Thanks for getting in touch with the Pierateers!