Sunday, 26 July 2015

Pleased as punch with Punch Tavern pies

Punch Tavern Game and Fish Pie Reviews

Punch Tavern
Punch Tavern, Fleet Street

Once again, Pierateers RAS and TJP came knocking at the Punch Tavern on London’s Fleet Street to see if they could deliver some more knock-out pies.

It was November 2014 when RAS and TJP first tried the pies at this gin-friendly gastropub - and what great pies they were! The chicken pie clucked up a Pierate 'Highly Recommended' 6.02/7, while the rabbit pie jumped in at 5.92/7.

This time, RAS and TJP were hungry for the game pie and the fish pie - and with the standard set so high last time, will their dreams be shot down or will it be 'squids in' at the Punch Tavern?

First up, the fish pie.

We were thrilled to note that this supreme little parcel of joy was - unlike many fish pies out there - fully encased in pastry. It's great news that the Punch Tavern does believe in wholly encasing their fillings in pastry, including their fish pies, when too many fish pies are sold with a mashed potato lid. (Not a pie!)

fish pie punch tavern
The fish pie
According to the menu, this pie contains smoked haddock, king prawn, salmon, squid, mussels and mushroom sauce. It costs £12.50, a price we decided last time wasn't "the cheapest pub pies out there, but by no means the most expensive...we would rate the pie pretty well for cheapness". We'd stand by that statement for this review - the Punch Tavern is in a great location and the pies come with a generous portion of mash and vegetables.

For colour, the pie loses a few points because it looks a bit too dark - is the lid over-baked? The condition of the pie loses a few marks because - although you can't quite see in the photo here - the base of the pie has become a bit soggy in the sauce and has lost some of its structural integrity. Otherwise the pie looks well presented. The pie truly is the king upon the castle of mash, surrounded by a moat of creamy sauce.

Contents of the fish pie

On the cross-sectional view, you can see the content spilling out of the pie. The air gap you can see is just because the content has tumbled out of the pie. I'd say this pie was very well filled with a minimal air gap. The lid does look a little overly crisp - I'm hoping this isn't a sign of bad things to come.

On tasting the lid, my fears were realised. Yes, the lid was rather overbaked for my liking - a bit too dry and crispy. By contrast, the base was a little too wet and soggy (after absorbing the moisture from the sauce). However, the pastry did still taste nice, and the filling was also delicious, although a little dry in parts - perhaps as the creamy sauce was mainly outside, rather than inside, the pie! I don't think I've ever seen such a wide variety of fish inside a pastry-encased pie before. The fish flavours worked well together with the creamy sauce (though you'll know at Pierate that we prefer our gravy in the pie, rather than round the side of it, so this is perhaps something to consider).

RAS also felt that the fish pie was a little bit dry inside and overly cooked on top - so certainly benefited from the sauce surrounding the pie plus a bit chewy in content at times, but such a fantastic array of sea food and fully encased in pastry too that it was very impressive.

Overall, the fish pie was a tasty delight and I'd definitely recommend you give it a go! After all, you don't see too many fully-encased in pastry fish pies out there! You'll see this pie appearing in the 'Best Pies in London Restaurants' article soon!

Then it was time for the game pie.

We both agreed that the game pie was the nicer of the two. It was similar in quality to the rabbit pie eaten previously but a bit more of a mix of flavour. The lid wasn't quite as over-baked as in the fish pie, and it was stuffed with the same great quantity of content. With a similar price and similar sides of mash and veg, this pie had few differences to the fish pie we'd just enjoyed.

The game pie

The game pie - cross-sectional view

Overall they were both very good pies again and - while we'd would prefer them not to be swimming in quite so much sauce/gravy when served (I would rather add this myself really, as both pies arrived to the table with soggy bottoms due to this approach), they were two more top rated pies!

Punch Tavern Fish pie
Score: 5.50/7

Punch Tavern game pie
Score: 6.01/7

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