Wednesday 30 September 2015

Why Come to Wycombe?

Wycombe Wanderers FC/Bisto - made by Peter's - Steak Pie Review

Having eaten quite a few pies at football matches in our time (see our football pie league), one of the main problems tends to be whether the pie is cooked properly. When trying to prepare so many pies in a short space of time it is tempting for clubs to not cook them for long enough and then let them dry out as they try and keep a large number of pies warm. The Phat Pasty pies being served at Wycombe last season were a prime example of a pie done in a bad way. Whilst it wouldn't put ardent fans off from attending the game given that Wycombe are struggling with falling attendances perhaps some of the more casual fans are wondering why come to Wycombe when the pies are so bad?

Wycombe football pie
Having attended the Wycombe v Cambridge match last night I was excited to see a new pie being served. Had Wycombe taken our advice to replace the Phat Pasty pies after just 1 season? Now they are serving Bisto branded pies which is a brand I had not come across before. A Bisto branded pie does make sense to some extent. I expected that whilst it might not do anything outstanding, if it was made with Bisto gravy it would at least not taste bad, after all apparently Britons have 1.6 billion meals with Bisto every year! I grabbed the last Steak pie for £3.

I then noticed that the pie was in fact made under licence by our friends in Wales, Peter's Pies. I was please about this because before last season's change, Wycombe served Peter's Premier Pies for a number of years and we had previously scored them well. My expectation was that this would effectively be a standard Peter's pie under a different brand. I was soon left feeling rather deflated as I delved into the pie, the pastry sides and base were decidedly soggy and completely fell to pieces, just like my hopes of a good pie. It seemed like this pie had not been cooked properly at all. It seemed as if it had been microwaved. My fears were soon confirmed when I learnt that the pie can be microwaved cooked from frozen. Whilst this can save time it is not normally recommended by the Pierateers, it will often result in soggy or dry pastry. Sadly, poor cooking has again let Wycombe down.

Wycombe pie
This wouldn't have been a complete disaster if the pie wasn't also completely tasteless. I would have expected it to at least taste like Bisto gravy but in fact the gravy was just tasted watery, starchy and fatty. The only redeeming feature was the good amount of steak chunks in the pie. There weren't any chewy pieces. However, these were also somehow fairly tasteless! I couldn't help but feel that this really was a pie to avoid even if it had been cooked properly. The only thing that impressed me was that Wycombe had managed to find a pie which scored worse than last season. Oh well, at least it can't get worse, can it? See the score breakdown below. Fortunately for Wycombe, they were so near the bottom of our Pie Football League (the PIEremiership) that losing some points does not currently see them move down the table.

Condition - 3.5 out of 7 - The pie arrived wrapped in Bisto branded plastic. The wrapper gives away that these pies come frozen and can be microwaved.
Colour - 2.0 out of 7 - Whilst the flaky lid looked crispy brown the sides and base appeared raw and unappealing.
Cheapness - 3.5 out of 7 - A pretty standard price for league 2 but I would normal expect something a bit better at the price. I guess it did at least have quite a lot of steak chunks.
Capacity - 4.9 out of 7 - This was an area where the pie did quite well, it was a decent size and also well filled.
Chewiness - 3.5 out of 7 - The texture to the tender steak was let down by an awful texture to the pastry, it just fell apart when I tried to take it out of the case. The sides and base were so soggy and under cooked it felt like I was really eating raw flour.
Content - 2.0 out of 7 - Terrible, I am not sure how they made the whole thing so tasteless, I really didn't enjoy it. My Dad also tried it a said it was a '1 out of 7', whilst I might not be that harsh, I doubt many people would say they enjoyed the taste of this pie.
Bisto pieConsistency - 2.5 out of 7 - Soft and stodgy, the pastry had a horrible consistency. Perhaps the filling was not so bad, the sauce being just about thick enough to stay in the pie (had the pastry not fallen apart). This is quite a new pie from Peter's, having been released this year and I think it needs more work. Peter's have experimented with making pies under other brands before, such as the Heinz pies we have reviewed, however, it seems that they are best when they are using their own brand. I wouldn't expect these Bisto pies to be around for long.

Steak Pie (Wycombe Wanderers/Bisto - made by Peter's)


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Monday 28 September 2015

Simpson's Pie is Excellent

Simpsons of Stranraer - Scotch Pie Review

When done well a Scotch pie can be both delicious and cheap. But when spending a pound or less on a hot pie it can be a bit hit and miss, there are probably more that are 'd’oh' than 'whoohoo'! But the search is well worth it as there are some bargains to be had. Simpsons of Stranraer is one of those establishments serving up great hot pies for just one pound. I paid them a visit recently as part of my quest to find out 'What Makes the Best Scotch Pie?'.
Simpsons Stranraer Shop

I went to the Newton Stewart branch on a rainy afternoon to seek some shelter. The display that greeted me warmed my spirits, a display of pies is the first thing you see as you come in the door. When I requested a Scotch Pie I was asked whether I wanted the onion version or the non-onion version. I have come across some Scotch pies with onion and some without but I haven’t normally found somewhere which does both. I opted for the onion version despite the potential for hallatosis. There are many ways that pies can help you make friends but smelling of onion is not one of them. However, when you have pies, who needs friends? This pie was a pretty good companion, it was just a shame that it didn’t last long. It was delicious and slipped down so well it was gone in moments.

Simpsons Stranraer Pies

Condition – 5.70 out of 7 – A pleasing shape and such sharp edges, this was a pie in high definition, no wonky handmade malarkey here. I do prefer my pies not have such big holes in the top though!
Colour – 5.60 out of 7 – A slightly flour-y outside gave this pie a matt effect, which is not normally what I look for in the ultimate pie but it still looked nice.
Simpsons Stranraer Scotch PieCheapness – 6.70 out of 7 – For £1 this pie was absolutely packed with meaty contents. Given how cheap it was I was pleased to see a sign telling me it was 16% beef. I do wonder sometimes with these cheap pies if they bulk them up with some road kill. The meat didn’t look disgusting as it can do for other cheap pies (c.f. the Greggs Scotch Pie).
Capacity – 6.00 out of 7 – It was quite big for a Scotch pie and completely full.
Chewiness – 5.50 out of 7 – The meat wasn’t at all chewy and slipped down really well. If anything it slipped down a bit too easy, it was all a bit too soft which is really the only criticism of this pie. The pastry rim was the only part that had a bit of crunch. Given that Scotch Pies use minced meat bulked out with starch it is difficult for them to obtain the satisfying texture that I would expect the ultimate pie to have. But, there is something about them which I love anyway!
Simpsons Stranraer Scotch PieContent – 6.30 out of 7 – The filling didn’t have a lot of seasoning but it didn’t need it because it was full of flavour. It was nice that it wasn’t overly salty. The fatty, rich beef flavour and strong onion taste was reminiscence of a burger and fried onions which worked well for me, but of course if you don’t like onions then steer well clear! This was a pie so pungent if eaten in public then people will turn to see what their delicious/disgusting (delete as appropriate) smell is.
Consistency – 6.40 out of 7 – Slipped down a treat, the fat made it really moist and whilst it didn’t have any gravy, the sign of a good pie was that I wouldn’t even bother pouring gravy on even if I did have some. I just wish I had gone back to try some more of their pies! So good it currently occupies 2nd place in our all time ranking of Scotch pies!

Beef & Onion Scotch Pie (Simpsons of Stranraer) 

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Friday 25 September 2015

Pierateers hit London for Food Blogger Connect (and pie!)

2014 was always going to be a hard act to follow! In it we achieved far more than we could ever imagine - including our first TV appearance on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, being pie experts on the BBC Sport website and our amazing 5th Birthday Pie-rty!

But 2015 is already proving to be it's match, with our debut on BBC One as pie experts for Rip Off Britain and more recently being approached by Buzzfeed to write a football pie article for them next month! And the next step of this amazing blogging journey is to hit the bright lights of London and attend the Food Bloggers Connect conference in Chiswick House this Saturday!

Talk Like A Pirate Pierate Ship
While unfortunately we were unable to visit for the whole weekend, there are a whole host of exciting sessions on Saturday that we're looking forward to attending. These include a "Monetise your blog" session and "Awesome Analytics" session, plus we're looking forward to contributing to "The Great Big Industry Ethics Debate", where the impact of blogging in the world will be discussed.

Unfortunately I haven't spotted any pie makers on the long list of food suppliers attending this weekend, but I look forward to seeing what samples are available none the less. I'm also expecting plenty of time to mingle and network with other food bloggers, something I've only just started having the pleasure of doing.

As part of the pre-conference build up we were all asked a few questions by the Food Blogger Connect staff, so here are my replies:

What are you looking forward to learning and enjoying at FBC this year?

This will be my first FBC event and I'm looking forward to networking with other bloggers, getting some insight into google analytics and monetising our blog!

Is blogging your full time job? If not, what is your day job and what do you get up to when you’re not blogging?

Unfortunately pie blogging is not my full time job - but that's probably good for my waistline! However it's a full on hobby and great fun! In "real life" I'm an administrator and I love playing and watching sport.

What first motivated you to blog and how has blogging changed your life?

Everyone loves a good pie and when we were chatting about pies in the pub one evening about six years ago, we decided if no one else had already taken "pierate" as a pie reviewing website name, we would! Since then we've been on radio, BBC TV and the dream is to one day have our own TV series! (Well, you've got to dream big!!!)

Four courses in one pie!

What’s your signature dish?

We're pie raters, rather than pie makers, here on Pierate Pie Reviews. However we do have a friend who occasionally posts original pie recipes and her "Four Course Dinner Pie" (four courses in one pie!) was actually amazing!

How far have you travelled to eat pie?

We've travelled all around the world looking for the perfect pie - though admittedly most of the reviews are from the UK! One place we'd still love to visit is America - perhaps some kind of American Pie Tour!

If you could cook for anyone in history, who would it be and why?

If I could meet any cook in history, it would be the person who invented the pie. I'd give them a long handshake and thank them for their genius in putting filling into pastry and making that first ever pie! You don’t need to ask what I’d cook for them…

How is your lifestyle shaped by food? How is your lifestyle shaped by blogging? Does blogging shape your approach to food and what you eat now?

My lifestyle and what I eat is quite linked to my food blogging, in that whenever I am in a new pub or a new town I'll often seek out a pie. Increased travel these days makes this easier. However pie blogging has led to me being on radio, BBC TV, meeting footballer Frank Lampard... it's been a great adventure!

If you still want to find out more, why not watch our "Grill A Pierateer" video from a few weeks ago, where we answered 10 pie questions sent in by our twitter followers:

And if all that isn't enough excitement for you, this weekend in London will also include joining the guys who run the amazing - a group of people who meet monthly to eat - you guessed it! - pie and mash at one of London's many pie emporiums and record in great detail the pie and mash consumed along the way! I'm hoping to get a few points in their league table for the pies I consume with them!

MyPie Truck Pie Review
The amazing MyPie truck!
Following that (and I hope I still have room for it!) I'll be meeting Pierateer Tim to rate the pies at The Queen's Head in Piccadilly, central London on Friday night. Looking forward to checking out their pie menu.

And our London pie weekender will be rounded off on Sunday with a visit to see the provider of our sixth Birthday Pie Party pies (happening on 14th November) - Mr Chris Brumby. For those who don't know, Pierate Highly Recommended pie maker Chris of MyPie has his own converted ice-cream van from which he sells top pies in London and we're looking forward to getting our hands on his Steak and Ale pie! There will probably be a few cheeky pie party plans to discuss too!

It's all going on here on the web's leading pie review website these next few months - and we can't wait to share it all with you! In the meantime, look out for more on our sixth birthday party soon, as we announce how you could be a part of it!

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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continue reading "Pierateers hit London for Food Blogger Connect (and pie!)"

Thursday 24 September 2015

Birmingham's Grand Central Opening: Square Pie Live Blogging

The time for Birmingham has finally arrived! Five years in the making - and many more in the planning - Birmingham New Street station and the shopping centre above it have finally opened there doors! And the exciting news is that the Grand Central shopping centre has a pie shop at it's e-pie-centre! No longer do we have to pie-ne in Britain's second city for a pie shop to fill our cravings - following the sad closure of Urban Pie earlier this year - for Square Pie have opened in the city centre. And we're about to check it out, so follow the live blogging below!

Grand Central Birmingham Pie Shop
Grand Central in Birmingham City Centre, home to Square Pie shop

Did you know? With an estimated spend of £750 million pounds on refurbishing New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre, and based on an average pie costing £3, you could have got £250 million pies for that much! #UselessPieFact

Before we check out the new Square Pie store in Birmingham's newest shopping centre Grand Central, the name Square Pie may ring a bell - and you'd be right! We've already rated their pies in their London Westfield Shopping Centre store and they rated pretty well! In fact, a number of them were Pierate Recommended as we celebrated eating our 100th rated pie there!

That celebratory 100th pie was actually rated back in 2012, and in 2013 we rated their Chicken, Leak and Wiltshire Ham pie at 5.58/7, which was another Pierate Recommended effort.

So now with this swanky new pie shop opening in Birmingham, it's time to check it out! Let the live blogging commence... (in reverse order)

17:50 - I'll leave you with this photo of the Square Pies on offer - and treat you to more pie photos when I rate some next week!!!

17:45 - The Square Pie launch has already been a real success - with queues of customers reported at lunchtime - and the staff very helpfully took me through their offerings. But the new World Cup flavours are what I'll have my eyes on next week! Check back on Pierate next week for our next Square Pie review!

17:35 - Birmingham food blogger Laura aka 'Full to the Brum' has asked what this Rugby World Cup pie-off Square Pie are doing is all about? Well I can announce that there will be some special pie flavours to enjoy from this Monday as the World Cup pie-off hits Birmingham! Some very quirky flavours in there - the full line up can be seen on the Square Pie website!

17:25 - Just had an interesting chat with the manager Anthony, who only got access to the restaurant on Monday! He's been trained up in Square Pie shops down in London and really looking forward to this start up in Birmingham!

17:15 - The Square Pie restaurant is in a large food area of Grand Central, with an open air feel to it so you really get the hustle and bustle of the shopping centre while you eat. However there are secluded spots to sit too!

17:05 - Up the escalator and into Birmingham's newest retail centre! And a great view across the concorse, it must be said!

16:50 - The excitement is building as the train edges nearer Birmingham New Street. I'm like a kid counting down the days til Christmas!!!

16:30 - Have to admit I was a bit nervous earlier when I read this Birmingham Mail article that not all the shops in Grand Central were open yet! Fortunately Square Pie weren't on the list!

16:20 - Where will this pie fit in with all the other top pies in Birmingham?! Check out our "Best Pies in Birmingham" article to find out the com-pie-tition!

16:15 - Just leaving the house ready to get a train into Birmingham New Street's new refurbished station. I caught a glimpse of the glass roof yesterday and it looked great!

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Monday 21 September 2015

Tesco have done a proper job with this top pie!

Tesco Slow Cooked Steak and Ale Puff Pastry (with Proper Job ale) Pie Review

Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review
Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review
It has to be said that supermarket pies rarely trouble the upper echelons of the Pierate Pie Rankings and there’s a few reasons for that. Firstly, they are mass produced, which often loses the pie marks for care and passion put into making them. They also often contain 20% meat or less, meaning their content and capacity scores take a right nosedive. Added to that is the generic, mass appeal flavours they tend to focus on to keep costs down.

Which is why I’m delighted to have found a pie in Tesco that is both affordable, meaty and rates well on the 7 Cs of pie rating. Well done Tesco! You’ve done a proper job of your Slow Cooked Steak and Ale pie, featuring Proper Job ale. And at just £1.73 this is pretty much a steal!

The flaky puff pastry was pretty much spot on, being a little pale on the sides but tasting very nice indeed. It easily passed the hand held test and didn’t crumble on eating. The slow cooked chunks of British steak were not at all fatty, instead tender and filling. The beef was a whopping 37%, which is almost as high as some of the artisan pies we’ve rated highly, and far higher than the typical 20% meat you find in a lot of supermarket pies. There was still a bit of an air gap, so capacity wasn’t perfect, but it left me nicely filled in a way a lot of supermarket pies don’t. The filling to pastry ratio was again pretty much spot on.

Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review
Tesco Steak and Proper Job Ale Pie Review

Of course there will be some out there who say a steak and ale pie isn’t exactly an exciting filling option, but in my eyes this pie isn’t trying to be exuberant and doesn’t need to be. It’s a delicious classic pie flavour, with a great balance between the Proper Job ale and the rich gravy and the meaty filling. One I would certainly highly recommend at a fabulous £1.73 (or if you’re fortunate, just £2.50 for 2 when on special offer!)

Tesco Slow Cooked Steak and Ale Puff Pastry Pie (with Proper Job ale)
Score: 6.14/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 6, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6, Chewiness 6.5, Cheapness 6.75, Content 6, Total: 6.14/7]

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Saturday 19 September 2015

Pierateers celebrate Talk Like A Pierate Day 2015

Ahoy there, me hearties! For those who are unaware, today is Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yes, that really does exist! And don't even try and arrrgue with me, or ye be walking the plank!!!

For inspiration you can follow the hashtag #TalkLikeAPirateDay on Twitter and find out who's getting involved. Take for example CI Simon Nelson, who has already got in the Pirate mood by dressing up today!

Talk Like A Pirate Day Pierate
Mich made this wonderful Pirate design!
But as much as we love talking like Pirates on the web's leading pie review blog, what we REALLY love to do is talk like a Pierateer! And that means lots of talk about PIES!!!

So while we don't want to completely pie-jack International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we'd love to share a few pie pearls with you to get you talking! Take for example our 7 Cs we sail - the 7 criteria on which we rate all our pies. Or our pie pun dictionary, which includes some right pearls of punnage. Or even our pie treasure map, which shows you where the best independent pies can be found!

But most of all, we'd love you to find golden treasure of your own - pie treasure, to be more precise! So why not check out our Pie Rankings, which lists 500 pies that we've rated on our 7 Cs to help you know where you can find the best treasure of all - a top rated pie! And to whet your appetite, check out our current Top 6 below:

RankPie ProducerPie FlavourScoreBy
Paul's PiesSteak and Guinness
King's Farm [HP22 6BH]All Steak
Paul's PiesChicken and Mushroom
Piebury Corner [N7 8DL]Venison and Red Wine [Thierry Henry]
Piebury Corner [N7 8DL]Lamb and Veg with a hint of mint [Ian Wright]
JB Christie [ML6 6BU]Minced Beef Scotch

Talk Like A Pirate Pierate Ship


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Thursday 17 September 2015

Best pies in Birmingham

Birmingham Pie Reviews

Are you wondering what the best pie in Birmingham is? Well then, you've come to the right place - Pierate, the Pie Review Blog! With Pierateer Rob based in Birmingham for over 10 years now, we've reviewed quite a few pies in England's second city. And while we admit there's still a lot of the little beige delights still tucked away in various shops, stalls and pubs around the city that we haven't got our hands on yet, we've rated loads of top Birmingham pies and our mission is to try and pie rate them all!

Jekyll and Hyde Steak Pie
Jekyll and Hyde Steak Pie
One of our highest ranked pies thus far comes from the Jekyll and Hyde pub in central Birmingham. Their steak pie reached the dizzy heights of 6.45/7 on the seven Cs of pie rating a few years ago and they have consistently rated well with their "World of Pi(e)" offerings more recently. The Jekyll and Hyde pub also offered the great backdrop to Pierateer Rob's TV appearance on BBC One's Rip Off Britain.

Right in the heart of Birmingham City Centre you will also find the beautifully decorated "The Botanist", which as you may expect from the name has a beautiful floral d├ęcor and some nice pies to boot! One of the nicest places I've eaten pie in! For a more historic location, you'll struggle to beat the Old Joint Stock, opposite Birmingham Cathedral. With a great range of pies on offer and a spectacular setting to eat them in, this Fuller's Pie and Ale House is certainly worth a visit. There are some exquisite top crust pies in The Junction Pub in Harborne - with some fully encased pies soon to be rated there! And we can't miss out some fabulous butcher's pies from Eric Lyons Ltd in Solihull which were Pierate Recommended.

More recently we've rated some pies in the new Square Pie shop in the open plan restaurant area of the new Grand Central Shopping Centre, specifically as part of their "Rugby World Cup" pie range. Plus we've also Pierate Recommended the pies in The Stable - a new pizza, pie and cider restaurant in the city centre.

There are also a number of pies we still have our eyes on in Birmingham, so look out for reviews from The Pie Factory in Tipton - which does unfortunately only do top crusts but are highly regarded - and from "Pietanic", who are a pie street vendor.

We also can't write an article about pies in Birmingham without reference to the sad closure of "Urban Pie" in the Bullring, who once referred to us on their blog saying "Pie bloggers the Pierateers have been hit with Urban Pie fever - even the pie experts love our pies!"

And don't forget we've already covered the best pies in London in more detail in our Best Pies in London Restaurants article, if you're ever popping down south!

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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Monday 14 September 2015

Pierate Pie Party Preview and Upcoming Events

After a hugely successful 2014, which included our first TV appearance on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and our 5th Birthday Pie-rty, we're delighted to announce an exciting end to 2015 that culminates in our third Pierate Pie Party in just TWO MONTHS time! Yes, it's official - just two days after we celebrate International Pierate Day on 12th November, we'll be having our sixth Birthday Pie Party and are delighted that the pies will be provided by none other than Pierate Highly Recommended pie maker Chris Brumby of MyPie.

We've once again gone straight to the top of the Pie Rankings to find another Pierate Highly Recommended pie maker to supply the pies at our sixth Birthday Pie Party, with Chris' Free Range Chicken, Smoked Ham and Tarragon Pie rating at a fantastic 6.39/7! Alongside the pies, we're hoping to have a celebrity guest or two - and that's not even referring to our very own Pierateers and the Ship's Cook, who have been on BBC TV this past year and have a number of exciting plans in the pie-peline, including our upcoming football pie article for Buzzfeed!

Football Pie Pierate Review
From Pierate to Buzzfeed to Pierate!
Speaking of Buzzfeed, we were delighted that they featured one of our many football pie photos in their recent article on "Can we guess which football team you hate the most?" (more importantly, can you guess which football club's pie it is?!) but in our article for them we'll be focusing on the half time pies of the five Birmingham based football league teams.

Also in our plans are the hosting of our first Birmingham Bloggers meet up, networking with some of the other top bloggers in the Midlands, on the back of our debut at the Food Bloggers Connect conference in London at the end of this month, as well as the excitement of the finale of The Great British Bake Off!

It's all going on here on the web's leading pie review website these next few months - and we can't wait to share it all with you! In the meantime, look out for more on our sixth birthday party soon, as we announce how you could be a part of it!

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
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continue reading "Pierate Pie Party Preview and Upcoming Events"

Sunday 13 September 2015

It’s Goodison, But Not Good Enough

Everton Football Club - Goodison Steak Pie Review

Yesterday I watched Everton outclass Chelsea to win 3-1 at Goodison Park in one of the most enjoyable matches I have seen in a while. I went with my Grandad to celebrate his 80th birthday. I wanted to take him to a Premier League match and this just happened to be one that I could get tickets to. It took me so long to organise it, it was almost his 81st birthday before we managed to go! If you are a regular follower of the exploits in the PIEremiership, the Pierate Football Pie League, then you will know that we are primarily Wycombe Wanderers supporters. However, since I was young I have followed Chelsea as my ‘premier league team’. The days of an underachieving team with the likes of Gianfranco Zola were ones where I was very keen on following Chelsea. It is perhaps strange that now the team are much more successful in the Abramovich era that I don’t care so much. I enjoy watching a good Chelsea team but I am not so bothered whether they win or not. What I did not expect though was that in this game I found myself actually wanting Everton to win! They seemed to play with a lot more passion than Chelsea and I got swept up in the atmosphere of a packed Goodison Park which was revelling in how well their team were playing. The abuse aimed at Mourinho was particularly entertaining such as "Money can't buy you Stones" (to the tune of "Money Can't Buy You Love") and "You're getting sacked in the morning".

We sat amongst the Everton fans in the Top Balcony which gave a great view of the pitch (albeit with a pillar in the way of some of it!) as well as across Stanley Park to where Anfield was visible on the other side. The old wooden seats are steeply tiered so it is unlikely a tall bloke in front will block your view. I strongly recommend a trip to Goodison Park, the stadium has plenty of character compared to many of the newer stadiums around and the atmosphere is great as nearly every seat seemed to be taken (mainly by season ticket holders).

There wasn't much choice of food but this wasn't really important because I was only ever going to get a pie. The Everton pies are made by local company Clayton Park Bakery who have a contract to supply Everton until the 2016/17 season. They have a wonderful website domain - - which indicates they are passionate about pies and supply a number of football clubs. After looking at their website I had high hopes that the pies might be good, at least they weren't just from one of the mass market producers such as Pukka.

There is a choice of 3 pies with the Goodison Steak, Chicken & Gravy and Scouse Pie all making the line up at £3.20 each. I opted for the Goodison Steak pie in the hope that it would give the best chance of scoring well.

Sinking my teeth into the pie it was good to see that there wasn’t really any empty space however it was almost entirely filled with gravy! I couldn’t find a single piece of nice steak, not even one! Looking at the ingredients confirmed that the filling of this pie was only 15% beef. Given that the filling was only about 50% of the pie, this gives it around 7.5% beef overall, which is bad even for a cheap supermarket pie. Absolutely shocking given that this pie cost £3.20, (even if this is a pretty standard price for a football ground pie). There were a few small lumps of something in the pie, but they didn’t really have the texture of beef, more like greasy potato. I suspected these were just lumps of fat. This is a shame as otherwise, the pie didn’t taste bad but for a steak pie such you need to have some pieces of steak!

Condition – 4.0 out of 7 – This pie arrived wrapped in plastic, which always worries me. How can they heat the pie up properly whilst it is wrapped in plastic? Other than that the appearance was fine, if unexciting. It had an unusually large vent in the top and I am not sure if this was intentional or the filling had just escaped!

Colour – 3.0 out of 7 – I thought that the colour of this pie was a bit pale and it looked a bit like soggy and greasy rather than nice and crisp.

Cheapness – 3.5 out of 7 – Average for a pie from an English football ground but you don’t get a lot for your money with this one because of the lack of filling.

Capacity – 4.5 out of 7 – This was one area where the pie scored fairly strongly. The shape gave it plenty of space for filling and there wasn’t any empty space at all. This is perhaps why some filling had escaped. There was a good pastry to filling ratio.

Chewiness – 3.7 out of 7 – There weren’t any chewy bits to this pie but it really did lack anything to get your teeth given that it was pretty much gravy. Even the pastry was a bit crumbly and stodgy and didn't have a great texture. 

Content – 4.0 out of 7 – The filling tasted fine, it was a nice steak and ale taste. There was a good amount of ale flavour and it wasn't overly salty. It may have been marketed as ‘Goodison Steak’ but there was nothing unique to Everton about the flavour, the packet simply identified it as Steak & Cumberland Ale. I suspect the same pie is sold in many other places by Clayton Park Bakery. The pastry was a bit doughy and seemed like it hadn’t been cooked properly (a bit like the Phat Pasty pies we have had at Portsmouth and Wycombe). This is often a problem with football pies where a large number need to be cooked at once.

Consistency – 3.5 out of 7 – Whilst it didn’t taste bad, I would certainly try the other pies on offer rather than having this one again. It had a much too liquid and stodgy consistency. Sadly, it will come in not far above the relegation zone of the PIEremiership after an inconsistent performance.

Goodison Steak (Everton FC/Clayton Park Bakery)

continue reading "It’s Goodison, But Not Good Enough"

Friday 11 September 2015

Pieminister Summer Pies Range

Pieminister Tipsy Chick and Scrumpea Pie Reviews

Many of you will have enjoyed a pie from top Bristol pie makers Pieminister before. We've already rated 12 of them! With quality crisp pastry and delicious fillings, the Bristol based pie firm have done us proud many a time. However last summer something odd happened. Having produced some of the finest quality pies we've rated on the Seven Cs of pie rating, last summer they inexcusably decided to get rid of the pastry lid to their pies in making a 'lighter' summer range of... well, "pies".

Pieminister Pie Reviews
Pieminister Pie Reviews
Apart from, of course, if you remove the pastry lid, they are no longer pies!!!

It bamboozled us so much that we even did some research on the comparison between these 'lighter' "pies" and the normal Pieminister pies, and found that actually the main reason they were less calories was because they were a bit lower in weight and had no pastry lid! But as you know we on the Pierate Ship are pie purists, so the lack of pastry lid hit their 'lighter' pastry products hard on the 7 Cs of pie rating. In fact it left them being some of the lowest scoring pies in our Pieminister leader board, despite the taste being quite good. You just can't ditch a pastry lid in our eyes!!!

However, the good news is that Pieminister have seemingly learnt from their error and this summer their two summer pies are fully encased in pastry! Good work Pieminister!

The two pies in their summer range are the Tipsy Chick Pie and the vegetarian Scrumpea Pie, both containing some dry cider to give them a summery but quirky flavour. So with normal pastry service resumed, how would these pies rate?

Pieminister Pie Review
Pieminister Pie Menu

Compare all our Pieminister Pie Reviews - and we've reviewed a fair few in our Pie Rating careers - on our Pieminister Pie Reviews Page!

Both pies looked in great condition and at £3.50 for a cold pie from their website it is reasonably priced for a quality British pie made using British meat and quality ingredients. Golden in colour, the pie pastry was nice and crispy on top, really nice and melt in your mouth upon eating. It certainly added a good crunch to the pie experience, and the side and base pastry were lovely and crisp too.

Tipsy Chick Pieminister Pie Review
Tipsy Chick Pieminister Pie Review
The content of the pies was however a bit mixed. The Tipsy Pie - a free range chicken and ham pie with peas, mint and orchard pig cider - was very nice, with a flavoursome but not overpowering content. However it was noticeable that there was sadly just 14% chicken in the pie, which is considerably lower than the 40% meat filling some pies bought at farmers markets can contain. This did leave me feeling I was missing out somewhat on meatilicious content.

Scrumpea Pieminister Pie Review
Scrumpea Pieminister Pie Review
The content of the Scrumpea pie - a pea, asparagus, parsley and fennel pie with west country cheddar and orchard pig cider - was also very good in general but let down by some overly solid fennel (or some other vegetable). It was hard to ignore, as unfortunately the vegetable was so solid that I couldn't even get my knife to cut it or my teeth to bite through it. That aside, however, the pie was fine, with the cheese a nice addition and adding some flavour to the creamy potato and pea filling. I did email Pieminister about the crunch and it appears it was probably just an unusually tough bit of fennel, as other pie eaters haven't had a problem with it. But of course I can only rate based on what I ate!

Overall I would say both pies were nice, but didn't quite blow me away like some Pieminister pies have recently. However I'm always pleased to see that Pieminister are not happy to just stick with what they have got, but regularly try out new pies and their pastry is some of the best around. Still worth buying!

Pieminister Tipsy Chick Pie
Score: 4.89/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 4.5, Consistency 4.75, Condition 5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 4.5, Content 5, Total: 4.89/7]

Pieminister Scrumpea Pie
Score: 4.43/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 4.5, Consistency 4.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 3.5, Cheapness 4, Content 4, Total: 4.43/7]


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pieminister Summer Pies Range"

Thursday 10 September 2015

Has ASDA served up an absolute classic?

ASDA Pub Classics Pie & Mash

This is yet another frozen pie and mash review - this time an own brand 'ASDA Chosen By You Pub Classics Pie & Mash'.

I picked this pie up from the frozen section of my local ASDA. This pie costs £1.50 - which may sound like a steal, but then you look the size of it: it's tiny. Had I been handed this pie in an actual pub, I would be in disbelief!

For your money, you also get a small blob of green pea-y mush, and some bland mash. But let's not dwell on the accompaniments - this is a review about the pie.

The pie does not look in very good condition. The bake is very uneven, with uneven glaze and what appears to be pretty bad boil-out on the lid. The colour ranges from very pale to very dark, covering the full range of the brown rainbow.

Slicing open the review reveals a mediocre amount of pie filling that spills limply out onto my plate. The beef and onion filling is edible but doesn't make me smile. The puff pastry is unremarkable.

Yes, this is a low-cost pie, but I wouldn't rate it very good value for money. It barely filled me up, and didn't look like the attractive 'oozing' pie that adorned the box. They must have found the world's smallest plate for that photo.

To me, this was not a 'pub classic'. Disappointing, with few merits - this 'Chosen By You' pie won't be chosen by me in the future.

ASDA Pub Classics Pie & Mash
Score: 2.2/7
continue reading "Has ASDA served up an absolute classic?"

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Reci-pie Review: Sainsbury's Chicken and Leek Pie

The Ship's Cook (aka @the_cookworm) is currently on a pie mission - to find the top rated pie recipes from our nations supermarket suggestions. It started with a tweet we were sent by @jimbolimbo9 suggesting we try two pork pastry recipes from the supermarket Morrisons and from this The Ship's Cook decided to select one reci-pie from each supermarket's website or magazine to make and rate. Today is the turn of Sainsbury's Chicken and Leek pie!

Check out all our Supermarket Pie Recipes rated to date by The Ship's Cook right here:

Morrisons - Pork and Cider  |  Sainsbury's Chicken and Leek  |  Tesco - Beef and Stilton  |  Waitrose - Black Pudding 

If there's one thing that searching for recipes has taught me, it's that supermarkets have some funny ideas about what constitutes a pie. There are a lot of tarts and a LOT of stews with pastry lids out there, and don't even get me started on the time Tesco put up a poster with a picture of some sausage rolls and called them pies!

In the absence of real pie options, but wanting to continue in my supermarket pie quest, I have adopted a new motto: If in doubt, add a crust. Which is exactly what I've done in my next reci-pie review.

The Recipe:

This time it's a chicken and leek pot pie from Sainsbury's - you can find it here: 

In case you're a 'dive right in and start cooking without reading the recipe to the end' sort of person, I think I should warn you that you need separate pans for the chicken and the sauce, and also a bowl or a plate to put the leeks on. If you're not prepared you risk slight pie-related chaos in your kitchen (I speak from experience...)

The original recipe suggests you serve this pie in individual dishes - this works well, but I used slightly bigger ones than suggested so I could add a shortcrust pastry base and ensure the filling was fully encased.

Sainsbury's Chicken and Leek Pie Review
Seriously crispy filo pastry.

The 7 Cs of Pie Rating:

I was really impressed with the colour of this pie! Obviously when you're baking your own pie you can leave it in the oven for as long as you need to make it turn a nice golden brown, but the scrunchy bits of filo pastry seemed to brown particularly nicely. I'm going to have to investigate some other filo pies now...

This had a nice thick sauce thanks to the addition of flour, and the cheese and milk mixture made it really creamy. Once I'd filled up the pies there was some sauce left in the pan to use like gravy, which I liked.

Look at that great creamy filling!

Sigh. A big fail here, as the original recipe was called a pie but was really a stew with a top crust. Once you add a bottom crust to turn it into a real pie, there's a lot of filling so you can get a really good crust:filling ratio.

Sainsbury's Chicken and Leek Pie Review
Great long as you add your own base.

The chicken was lovely and tender, the leeks were soft but flavoursome and the peas added a bit of bite - lots of points scored here.

The addition of filo pastry makes this a bit more expensive than your average pie, but the rest of the ingredients aren't too bad - a lot of them are things you might buy anyway, like garlic, mustard, and peas. The recipe does feed a lot of people - it says six and I think that's about right.

I really enjoyed the flavours of this pie. I thought the mustard might be a bit overwhelming, but it wasn't at all - you could still taste the chicken, leeks, and peas and the creamy sauce was lovely with the crispy filo pastry. Yum.

Two words - soggy bottom. These pies looked absolutely delicious when they came out of the oven, with brown crispy tops and a tempting smell, but the shortcrust base was a bit soggy despite me blind baking it before adding the filling. I can see why this was originally a stew with a lid - but you could probably make the sauce a bit thicker and put the filling in the fridge before filling the pies to try and avoid this problem.

Sainsbury's Chicken and Leek Pie Review
Crispy top, soggy bottom.

The Ship's Cook 

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Reci-pie Review: Sainsbury's Chicken and Leek Pie"

Monday 7 September 2015

Pierate are pie advisers to National Newspaper's Pie Search

Fresh from our ap-pie-rance as a pie adviser on BBC One's Rip Off Britain, we've once again been pie adviser - this time to national newspaper The Daily Star Sunday as part of their "Great British Pie Off". The paper are looking for Britain's Best Pie, a topic we have a lot to say about after over 500 pie reviews (many of which have been British).

So what advice did we have for the national newspaper? Well unsurprisingly it's all about the pastry to filling ratio, something we often bang on about in our pie reviews on Pierate! There's got to be a good balance of great pastry and quality content.

You can find all our quotes in the "Great British Pie Off" article online and if you are a pie maker selling savoury pies to the general public you can find out how to enter your best pie into the com-pie-tition in the article too!

Of course you won't be sur-pie-sed to find out our advice on finding the best pie in Britain revolves around finding one which rates highly on all of our 7 Cs! Find out more about them in our handy infographic:

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "Pierate are pie advisers to National Newspaper's Pie Search"

Tuesday 1 September 2015

#GrillAPierateer: Your 10 pie questions answered!

Pierateer Rob
Have you ever had a pie question you'd love answered, but not known who to ask? Well 10 of our pie fans on twitter responded to our call for pie-related questions, as we got our fans to #GrillAPierateer!

This bank holiday we collated your questions and with the help of our video pie-ducer we answered the 10 best questions we were sent, creating the video below that can be seen alongside 24 others on our PierateShip youtube account:

There were some fabulous questions sent in by our pie fans on the @pierateers twitter feed, ranging from Emma's question on what our favourite pie filling was to the classic question "If you were a pie, what pie would you be?" from gulten free pie producer No. G.

The BBC's pie expert Pierateer Rob, who you may have seen on BBC One's Rip Off Britain recently, also answered questions on where he saw the blog in 5 years time (sent in by Morecambe FC's head chef Graham, who also features on the same Rip Off Britain episode!) and we had questions sent in by Emily - our Ship's Cook who rates pie recipes for us on Pierate - as well as great home baker John, Piebury Corner fan Peter, freelance blogger Nik, Birmingham food blogger Laura from @fulltothebrum and designer Mich (who made the wonderful "When I grow up I want to be a Pierateer!" print).

The final question was a tricky one sent in by fellow blogger Amanda Bootes, whose "5 things about me" vlog made just over a month ago ins-pie-red this vlog of our own! She asked if we would rather never eat pies again, or never talk about them again? Tricky!!! Find out our answer in the video!

Pierateer Rob on BBC hit show Rip Off Britain recently

Did you know we have 24 pie videos on our
PierateShip youtube channel? Why not check them out!

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

Make sure you
and let us know your thoughts!
continue reading "#GrillAPierateer: Your 10 pie questions answered!"