Friday 30 October 2015

London Pies with the legendary Pie and Mash Club

On Friday 25th September I was proud to be able to join pie regulars for my first real experience of a London Pie and Mash shop in full buzz, reports Pierateer Rob.

Traditional London Pie and Mash Review
Traditional London Pie and Mash at M. Manze
It was a busy Friday lunchtime and the time was 13:11. Why do I know that? Well that’s when you need to be in the queue if you’re going to be dining with London’s premier pie and mash eating club – the aptly named “Pie and Mash Club”!

For over 20 years now a group of pie lovers in London have been trying the traditional pie and mash in shops across the capital and beyond, recording their conquests to a level normally reserved for Opta’s football statisticians. The mind-child of Nick and a number of his work colleagues, the first official Pie and Mash Club meet up was in October 1994 and set the tone for a 1994/95 pie eating “season” which culminated in the first champion Richard Lucus.

If nothing else, do check out the amazing directory of Traditional Pie and Mash shops that the Pie and Mash Club have recorded - it really is an amazing effort!

The rules are pretty simple. 4 points for a pie, 3 points for mash, 4 for eels and 1 for liquor. You get an additional 2 points for “afters” such as a pie and custard dessert. Penalties are dished out for non-completion (something I have to admit to – more of that later!) But above all, despite the leaderboard providing some healthy (okay, perhaps not so healthy) com-pie-tition, this is a social gathering with a heavy pie focus. And that’s just how we like it!

Nick and Chris
Nick (l) handing over the 2014/15 trophy to Chris
It does, after all, have a strong resonance with how Pierate Pie Reviews started. A group of friends meeting up and enjoying pies. Turning from a “bit of fun” to a slightly more serious “bit of fun”! The creation of a pie and mash trophy – handed to 2014/15 season champion Chris – was just a small competitive part of a largely informal and light hearted afternoon.

Conversation ranged from bicycle manufacturing to the surprisingly sunny weather (come on, we’re British!!!) but the focus, oddly enough, was pies! The sad demise of a few local traditional pie and mash shops offset with the celebration of a number of new openings, plus the successful start for The London Pie and Mash Company, who you may have seen were pie providers to our 5th Birthday Pie-rty last year.

Traditional London Pie and Mash Review
All in all it was a very enjoyable afternoon chatting pie to a group of pie enthusiasts, some of whom would have been enjoying pie and mash years before I was even born! My only disappointment was, slightly controversially, how poor the pie and mash actually was! It was my first time at this particular M. Manze in Chapel Market, Islington and it did disappoint compared to some of the traditional pie and mash shops I’ve visited.

I have to say I am no expert in this niche of the pie world, with Pierateer Sam being our expert and writing our very informative Traditional Pie and Mash article. I’m going to have to leave it to his expertise to rank it against the many others he has had – but the highly soggy underside, split side and very chewy and gristly mince filling was one I didn’t really enjoy. I attempted 3 pies but only managed just over 2 of them. Even the pie and mash experts around me were rather disappointed by the pies and service there, though they still managed to tuck away more than me!

Click here to read the full report for 25th September on the Pie and Mash Club website, featuring their leaderboard after one event!

Traditional London Pie and Mash Review
Still discussing pies in the pub afterwards!
For them, it’s always a quick turnaround before their next meet up approximately three weeks’ later, once again at their infamous meet time of 13:11. For me? Well I just hope I can bring myself to rate another (hopefully far better) Traditional London pie and mash again soon.

I’d like to take this op-pie-tunity to thank the Pie and Mash club for welcoming me with open arms to their regular pie meet up. They made me feel like a regular and the pub trip afterwards was a great way to get to get to know them better. Nick does a great job of organising the group but such a gathering only works if everyone plays their part. Well done to all those who regularly participate in this regular celebration of pie. Long may it continue!


To find out more about the Pie and Mash Club, visit their website at and their Facebook page at

Thanks to Mike Goldwater for supplying the photos taken at the event – far more of them can be found in the report for 25th September on the Pie and Mash Club website.

continue reading "London Pies with the legendary Pie and Mash Club"

Tuesday 27 October 2015

TV's Radford Family expand pie business

Radford’s Pie Company Steak, Chicken and Meat and Potato Pie Reviews

It’s always great to be approached by pie producers asking us to rate their pies – but rarely do we get approached by anyone with as much TV exposure as the Radford family. For those who don’t know, the Radford’s featured on Channel 4’s 15, 16, 17 and now “18 kids and counting” and are – as you might guess – one of the largest families in the UK! With so many mouths to feed, you can imagine the pie consumption must be pretty high in their house up in Lancashire, but it helps that the family run bakery – which supports the continually growing family - sells, amongst other things, pies!

Radford's Pie Company Review
Radford's Pie Company Review

However while they’ve been selling pies in their shop in Heysham for around 15 years now and dad Noel has worked in bakeries for much longer, their latest exciting venture is offering home delivery of those pies, so that more people across the land can tuck into their exciting bakes! It’s great to see a family run business doing well and expanding their delivery options and we wish them continued success in this!

So having been sent some pies, how do the pies rate? Made with shortcrust pastry, one of the more obvious things you notice about them is they are packed near to capacity when you cut through them. They all travelled well, important for a home delivery pie, holding their shape well when cooked and removed from the foil. One interesting thing to note was that while the instructions recommended cooking them in the foil, I tried one of the steak pies cooked out of the foil and it really helped firm up the base of the pie, making it crisper and firmer than the steak pie I’d cooked in foil. However whether cooked in foil or not they all held together pretty well for a shortcrust pastry pie, some of which can crumble quite heavily upon biting into. The crimped edge added a slightly firmer crunch and the pies were all golden colour.

At £2.95 these are a pretty decent sized pie for that price considering the home delivery and that they are packed with meat. The local ingredients, from butchers and vegetable sellers near to the bakery, also adds to the appeal of these pies. No worries about air miles here! Here’s the breakdown of the four flavours we tried:

Radford's Pie Company Steak Pie Review
Radford's Pie Company Chunky Steak Review
Chunky Steak Pie
Large chunky pieces of steak, just as the label promised! The meat was quite nice and tender, though a few pieces could have been a little leaner. However it was very meaty, with 45% beef steak. The gravy was quite a nice thickness, making it quite moist to contrast with the quite crisp outer pastry, which being shortcrust was a little dry in places. The thick chunks of meat and moisture of the gravy did seem to mean in places the base of the pie didn’t crisp up quite as well as the rest of the pie.

Score: 5.5/7
[Colour 5.75, Capacity 6, Consistency 5, Condition 5.25, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 5.75, Content 5.75]

Radford's Pie Company Steak and Mushroom Pie Review
Steak and Mushroom Pie
At 40% beef steak, this pie is firmly focused on the meat, which is my kind of steak and mushroom filling! The mushroom was nice and spread throughout the pie, though not a lot in there. The gravy was quite rich and meaty, not overly runny and the meat in quite large chunks. A nice, if quite subtle, change on the Chunky Steak pie.

Score: 5.5/7
[Colour 5.75, Capacity 6, Consistency 5, Condition 5.25, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 5.75, Content 5.75]

Radford's Pie Company Meat and Potato Pie Review
Radford's Pie Company Meat and Potato Pie Review
Meat and Potato Pie
The meat and potato pie was very potato focused, with a nice texture to the potato in decent chunks, however the mince beef was quite lacking at just 11%. It meant the gravy wasn’t that rich in flavour and there was less fluid gravy in the pie, possibly due to absorption into the potato. The pastry was crisp and held together better in this pie, with a firmer and crisper base. For those who like a heavier potato content to their meat and potato pie this would be just up your street, but for me there wasn’t quite the right balance to really get my teeth into any of the meat.

Score: 4.71/7
[Colour 5.75, Capacity 5, Consistency 4, Condition 5.25, Chewiness 4.5, Cheapness 4, Content 4.5]

Radford's Pie Company Chicken Pie Review
Radford's Pie Company Chicken Pie Review

Chicken Pie
With this pie consisting of 41% chicken breast, the pie certainly wasn’t lacking in meat either and top of the range meat at that. It was a very enjoyable pie, with my only suggestion that the pieces of chicken were quite chunky and thus not quite as succulent as it could have been if perhaps in slightly more small pieces. However the cream sauce was good, adding a nice blend to the flavour, so I think would have blended perfectly with the chicken if it had been mixed in with smaller pieces of meat. Excellent capacity and good content means this one just pips the rest.

Score: 5.68/7
[Colour 5.75, Capacity 6, Consistency 5.25, Condition 5.75, Chewiness 5.25, Cheapness 5.75, Content 6]

All in all, some very good pies from Radford’s and it’s a luxury to find a fully family run business like this that uses ingredients from local producers in the area. Worth getting online and ordering a batch for sure, as they are Pierate Recommended!


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 "TV's Radford Family expand pie business"

Monday 19 October 2015

Fun of the Farmhouse

Farmhouse Deli - Pie Reviews

I have so far been struggling to find good pies in my local area in Gloucester. I was therefore quite pleased to realise that Farmhouse Deli in the city centre sell pies that they make themselves. Farmhouse is an upmarket butcher/deli shop, primarily focusing on meat. They have a shops in Gloucester and Cheltenham as well as outlet in Gloucester market. I quite liked the range of things on offer, they do gluten free sausages/burgers as well as tasty Single Gloucester cheese which is unique to the local area. The staff seemed friendly and interested when I explained about Pierate and my new mission to find the best pies in Gloucestershire.

There is a good selection of traditional pie flavours with both family sized and individual sizes available. Having been in a few times I have found that not all flavours of pie are available all the time. You just have to go with the flow of what they have. Whilst the flavours might seem a bit unoriginal compared to some of the top unusual flavours of pie we have tried, as we often say, our favourite flavour is still steak. So with that in mind, I started off by picking up an individual steak and ale for £2.40 (or you can get 3 for £6.75). Given that you have to cook the pie at home and hence wait for it to heat up I also go a Pork pie at £1.80 to eat while I was waiting! Again it was one of those frustrating occasions where the pie could have been available hot but wasn't. I will try not to hold this against them.

The Pork pie was up first and it looked really great in my opinion. It had a deep brown colour and a nice curvy crimp. Unfortunately looks can be deceiving as this pie wasn't quite as good as the hot meat pies, despite looking better! The pastry was generally pretty good, it was nice and crunchy which is my preference for a pork pie. The pie was well filled with porky goodness with only some small gaps around the edge. It was pretty big for an individual pie so the price of £1.80 compared favourably with upmarket supermarket pork pies. Sadly, the filling didn't quite do it for me. I found it overly salty and fatty which meant it became a bit sickly after a while. In fact I didn't fancy eating all of it in one go, I only had half which isn't a good sign. There were also some bits that were too chewy. In general I thought the filling could have had a better texture, it was in one solid, processed lump.

Pork Pie (Farmhouse Deli [GL1 2AG])
[Condition 5.5, Colour 5.5, Cheapness 4.0, Capacity 4.0, Chewiness 3.5, Content 3.0, Consistency 3.0]

Next up was the Steak & Ale, one I was anticipating to be good given the smell coming from the oven. It also looked good with a lovely, glossy glaze. Unfortunately I think perhaps I hadn't cooked it for long enough (it didn't come with instructions). The pastry tasted a bit like the ready made pastry that I often use for my pies at home. Whilst under-cooked in some places it was nicely crunchy at the edge. The filling was strong with a decent amount of steak. The pieces of steak were flavoursome as you might expect from a butchers but they could have been a bit more tender. It is a difficult balance to get right because it is quite satisfying to have something to get your teeth into. The flavour to the gravy was that of a fairly generic steak and ale but given the decent size and amount of meat, I thought this pie was great value.

Steak (Farmhouse Deli [GL1 2AG])
[Condition 5.0, Colour 5.0, Cheapness 5.0, Capacity 5.0, Chewiness 4.5, Content 5.6, Consistency 5.5]

Given that I suspected that I may not have cooked the steak & ale pie for long enough I popped in to Farmhouse to get another. This time the only small pies were Chicken, Ham and Leek so I grabbed one of these. Confusingly it had a Chicken & Mushroom sticker on it but cutting into it revealled it definitely was Ham & Leek. The amount of ham and leek was nearly perfect; there was just enough to add flavour whilst keeping the chicken the star of the show. I find too much ham can make a pie too salty. Having cooked the pie for longer the pastry was much better (and perhaps from a different batch). It was crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle although perhaps a little too crunchy on top. The quality of the chicken was top notch, not at all processed. It showed that this was a pie from a butchers shop. It was filled with a thick sauce and held together so well that it was easy to eat it by hand. Overall this was a very enjoyable pie, even if it didn't do anything quite special enough to challenge at the top of our pie rankings. It will certainly inspire me to try more of the Farmhouse pies as I think they are good value at this price.

Chicken, Ham & Leek (Farmhouse Deli [GL1 2AG])

[Condition 5.0, Colour 5.0, Cheapness 5.5, Capacity 5.0, Chewiness 5.8, Content 6.0, Consistency 6.5]

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Thursday 15 October 2015

Pierate advises BBC 5 Live on the Pies of Football

As the BBC Price of Football Survey launched again this year we gave our opinion on BBC Radio 5 Live, sharing our expertise on the many pies we've rated and our number one football pie - from Morecambe FC.

Sam and Rob being interviewed by BBC Sport's Azi Farni
Watch the video on the BBC Sport website
When you think football, you think half time pie. What better during those cold, winter evenings to warm the heart, as well as the hands, during the half time interval as you watch your local team? But is that actually what people do? Or has the price of football pies put off the regular football fan? Do the caterers even have enough pies to go round? And if fans do buy a pie, is it piefection or are football fans being held to ransom?

We were interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live as part of their discussion on the BBC Price of Football survey, particularly focusing on the quality of pies being provided at grounds and questioning why we are paying so much for often quite average pies, at a time when the top clubs in England are getting millions of pounds in additional TV revenue!

In particular was the surprise that pie prices in the Premier League have gone up 1.82% in the last year, as highlighted in the Price of Football stats article. While some of this increased is put down to the clubs selling more artisan and high quality pies - something we support - there are a number of grounds who sell the same pies as each other but at quite significant differences in price!

Listen in to Pierateer Rob talking football pies on BBC Radio 5 Live from minute 42 to 52 - discussing the quality and price of pies in football.

Also continue listening in to minute 66 of the programme to hear a pie-related poem on the Price of Football by Jeremy!

You may remember last year we joined BBC Sport's Azi Farni at Morecambe FC, who make some of the best pies rated on Pierate (let alone football grounds) to discuss what makes the perfect football pie! Watch us featuring in the BBC Price of Football video here.

We at will readily admit we are first and foremost a pie rating website, rather than specifically a football pie rating website, but we’re looking to delve further into the provision of football pies as we develop our Pieremiership of football’s best half time pies.

We've rated over 500 pies, including a growing number of football pies

But while we realise we haven’t eaten anywhere near enough pies in different football grounds yet – despite having over 500 pies rated in our Pie Rankings from many of the regular football pie manufacturers like Pukka Pies, Holland’s Pies and Peter’s Pies – we have always been a fan of eating a golden pastry product in the football stadiums we’ve visited. And in our minds what’s more important than simply the price of the pie is how the pie rates. Is it a soggy disappointment, overly dry or lacking in content or does it meet the 7 criteria we Pierateers look for in a pie?

In our view, it’s all about a great tasting pie – filling and pastry - which is value for money. You can find out more about what makes a great rated football pie by reading our article on the Pies of Football from last year.

Once again the #PriceOfFootball survey highlights that Kidderminster is the most expensive half time pie at £4.50. While some Kidderminister fans have already taken to Twitter to criticise the BBC for not pointing out it is more of a meal than just a pie, what they fail to point out is a far more important issue - they are selling a Potato bake and not a fully encased in pastry pie!

As mentioned on air, one football ground has seemingly found the perfect reci-pie for the half time pastry snack, producing some of the highest rated pies on Pierate, let alone best football pies! Head chef Graham Aimson at Morecambe FC has won several titles at the British Pie Awards for the quality of his pies, including being British Pie Awards Supreme Champion 2014. Check out the following short video for behind the scenes of our visit with the BBC to Morecambe FC:


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 advises BBC 5 Live on the Pies of Football"

Monday 12 October 2015

Square Pie try something different with Rugby World Cup!

Square Pie's Rugby Pie World Cup in Grand Central Shopping Centre, Birmingham

Square Pie Rugby Pie World Cup Review
Square Pie Rugby Pie World Cup Review

Here at Pierate HQ we’re always big fans of a pie-motion, like the tie in of the Rugby World Cup happening in England with the “Rugby Pie World Cup” happening down at Square Pie right now!

The idea is pretty simple – there’s a new pie to represent each of the 20 competing nations in the Rugby World Cup 2015, which are trying to be crowned the Pie World Cup Champion! Just like the competing rugby nations, the pies are being put through their paces and pitted against each other in a group phase and eventual knock out com-pie-tition, based on pie sales. Intriguing flavours include Chicken Teriyaki for Japan, Springbok Sausage for South Africa and Moose for Canada! It’s also great to see money being raised for the Dallaglio Foundation as part of the contest. More info can be found on the Square Pie website.

Square Pie Rugby Pie World Cup Review
Eyes on the pies!
As you may have read from my live blogging recently, a new Square Pie outlet has opened up in Birmingham’s newest shopping centre – Grand Central. Based above the main New Street train station in the heart of Birmingham, it’s great to have an established and Pierate Recommended pie brand such as Square Pie in the centre of the city. I got invited along to try three of the Pie World Cup hopefuls recently to see how they pie rated and these are my thoughts:

Overall The pastry on all three of these pies held together well, all passing the hand-held test (even if the Steak and Ale was a bit less firm than the others due to the more liquid filling making the base pastry a bit softer). I was impressed that none of these had soggy bottoms though, particularly with the gravy in the steak and ale. The pastry lid was particularly flaky and crisp on all three. There was a bit of a pastry overhang on the lids of these pies and by the time you got to the corners of the pies there was a bit too much pastry to filling – but there’s not really a way of avoiding this in a square product and this doesn’t detract much from the overall enjoyment.

All these special Rugby World Cup pies are the same price as their standard pie range, which I think is quite commendable seeing as, being quite unique flavours, they would be made in smaller, less frequent batches. However at £4.50 for just a pie or £6.50 for a classic meal (pie and 2 regular sides or pie and one large side) prices them as a bit expensive for just a hot pie or meal takeaway, but a reasonably priced option for a restaurant pie. It has to also be remembered that you are in the heart of Birmingham, minutes away from the central train station. There is very much a takeaway vibe to the Grand Central Square Pie shop, with food served in a box to go or eat in their array of seating – both useful options for those using the pie shop to ‘grab and go’ before getting a train. I know I will be!

Square Pie Wales Rugby Pie Review
Wales - Rugby Pie World Cup Review
Wales: Cheese, Leek and Potato (Vegetarian)

There were big potato chunks in the pie, which were quite well cooked, soft and tasty without being mushy. The cheese was noticeable and added flavour alongside the leek, but could have been a bit stronger. There wasn’t really anything to get your teeth into with this pie though, as a result of the potato being quite soft alongside the cheese and leek. This and the runny sauce contrasted quite strongly with the crisp pastry. Slightly smaller chunks of potato and a bit more cheese would have improved this pie a bit. A decent vegetarian pie but quite a standard flavour.

Square Pie Cheese, Leek and Potato Pie
Score: 4.68/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 4.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 4.25, Cheapness 4, Content 4.5, Total: 4.68/7]

Square Pie Fiji Rugby Pie Review
Square Pie Fiji Goat Curry Rugby Pie Review
Fiji: Fijian Goat Curry

One of the more unique flavours in the Rugby Pie World Cup, the Goat Curry pie was an interesting one to get my hands on! I’d only had a goat pie once before but that was in a gravy based pie, so the goat curry pie was a lot more dry in comparison to that. The ingredients in the pie apart from the meat were quite moist but there was no real sauce, which meant that the dryness of the meat was quite evident. This isn’t that surprising given my prior experience with goat, which is quite fatty but chewy and quite a dry meat, but this perhaps could have been factored into the pie filling. The meat was also in quite large chunks, which would have been better served spread out in more, smaller chunks in my opinion.

The curry flavour was quite mild but added some flavour. I recognise goat is not the easiest meat to prepare well and overall didn’t mind this pie flavour, but a bit more flavour and leaner, tender meat would improve the pie rating.

Square Pie Fijian Goat Curry Pie
Score: 4.29/7
[Colour 5.5, Capacity 4.5, Consistency 3.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 3.5, Cheapness 4, Content 4, Total: 4.29/7]

Square Pie England Rugby Pie Review
Square Pie England Steak and Ale Rugby Pie Review
England: Dallaglio Foundation Steak and Ale

The steak and ale pie is a classic English flavour, so it’s no sur-pies to see the English pie filled with it. There’s no denying it is a flavour we love here on the Pierate Ship, but that does mean with so many good steak pies eaten the bar is very high. However it was a good hearty effort, with a significant ale flavoured gravy. The gravy was very runny though, which did seem to make the pastry less crisp and sag slightly under the moisture. It was still able to be picked up by hand though, with a fair bit of steak and other filler such as onion to bulk it out. A bit more steak, which was slightly less chewy, and a lower viscosity gravy would raise this even higher up the rankings but still Pierate Recommended.

Square Pie Steak and Ale Pie
Score: 5.07/7
[Colour 5.25, Capacity 5.5, Consistency 5.25, Condition 5, Chewiness 5, Cheapness 4, Content 5.5, Total: 5.07/7]

Overall, we’re delighted there is a great new pie shop in the centre of Birmingham and the Rugby Pie World Cup is an ingenious idea to boost the range of pies on sale at Square Pie. With the board on the wall in the Birmingham shop celebrating the 127 flavours of pies made since 2001 – though now needing a massive overhaul following the 20 new types of pie during this Rugby Pie World Cup alone! – it seems clear pies are in good hands at Square Pie!

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

Thank you to Square Pie for hosting us for this Rugby World Cup Pie-Off in Birmingham. We'd already bought and rated Square Pie as Pierate Recommended as we celebrated eating our 100th rated pie there down in London 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.


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 "Square Pie try something different with Rugby World Cup!"

Thursday 8 October 2015

A Sad Case of Base-Overbake

Eat Beef and Ale pie review

Did you know? The Eat chain of restaurants sells fully-encased pies! Joyous, joyous news!

I headed down to the Eat store in Camden Town, London, to see what delights were on offer.

And here it is: a beef and ale pie. It set me back around £4.50 (I can't remember the exact price, I'm afraid...) - which for one take-away pie with no side orders is rather expensive.

But at least this is a fully-encased pie, so that's a plus.

The pie is of reasonable size and looks quite pretty in the box. It has a nice golden colour to the lid, with a perfectly even colour across the whole of the top of the pie. There is no boil-out and the pie looks like it is in good condition.

On opening up the pie, there is some airgap but overall this pie looks well filled. There's certainly a decent amount of meat in there - can't complain about that. The filling looks adequately moist with no need for any additional gravy.

But it's when I try and cut all the way through the pie that I realise there's a problem. Why am I having such difficulty cutting through the base??

I flip the pie over and find the MAJOR issue with this pie. The base is so overbaked it is practically a solid, unbreakable, inedible block of pastry!! I tried to tear a bit of this base off so I could try and eat it - but there was no way I was going to be able to eat the whole of this base! This pie, for me, was a DNF (Did Not Finish)!

In fairness to Eat, their customer service representative on Twitter seemed just as appalled as I was with the base of this pie. They have offered me a free replacement pie, which hopefully I'll cash in on soon (and report back on whether there's been any improvement on how they bake their pies in store). I'm sure this can't be a store-wide problem - otherwise Eat are doing this pie business all wrong. Let us know whether you've had any similar experiences with pies at Eat.

The rest of the pie was actually quite pleasant, if you ignored the base. The filling was pretty flavourful, and the meat was tasty and not chewy. I can certainly see why this pie obtained a silver award at the British Pie Awards. However, for nearly £5 for the pie, I think there are better hot takeaway pie options out there.

Because of the issue with the base - and the resulting DNF - this pie is going to score rather lowly. You might think this seems a bit unfair (since this could be a one-off problem), but I have to rate the pie that's in front of me. In my opinion, I should never have been served this pie.

Eat Beef and Ale Pie
Score: 3.2/7
continue reading "A Sad Case of Base-Overbake"

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Pierate Pillage Pirates

Bristol Rovers Football Club/Vili's Pie Reviews

Last night the Pierateers set sail for Bristol to pillage some pies from Bristol Rovers Football Club. It would have been nice to think that the large Pirate flag hanging up at the Memorial Stadium was in honour of our visit, but sadly it was because Bristol Rovers count 'The Pirates' amongst their various nicknames. But it did mean we felt quite at home despite it being an away ground. Pierateer Rob even grabbed a picture with the Pirate mascot. But did the experience leave us sick as parrots or did we unearth some buried treasure?

Bristol Rovers Pie

It was the big match, Bristol were playing us (Wycombe Wanderers) in the Johnston's Paint Trophy 2nd round. The most minor of competitions, the Football League Trophy somehow continues to exist despite a relentless indifference from pretty much everyone involved in it. The BBC can't even be bothered to write up match reports. In some ways it is good to get knocked out early rather risk injuries to a small squad. But then I would say that having seen Wycombe knocked out in fairly routine fashion! Two goals from Rovers in the first 11 minutes was always going to be difficult to come back from. Bristol somehow produced some good passing football despite missing their Gibraltar and Wales Under-21 internationals which has led to the shock postponement of their forthcoming meeting with Wycombe in the League. Despite the defeat, there were plenty of chances and I came away about as happy as you can do when your team has just lost. It probably helped that they only charged £10 for the ticket which is a lot more reasonable than League Two matches. Also, having had a decent pie probably helped add to the match day experience!

On first inspection it seemed that Bristol specialised in pasties, the livery of the catering outlet was dominated by a pasty company. There were a lot of pasties but fortunately the pie menu was also healthy. Four were listed although only Beef and Curry were on offer for this Tuesday evening fixture. Having run out of Beef pies in the away end the catering staff were good enough to bring us some over at half time. From one Pierate to another Pirate, at least their hearties in the right place! Yo ho ho and a cup of tea, packet of crisps plus a chocolate bar gets you a 'Pie Meal Deal' for £5.50. What baffled us was why they felt the need to put a sticker on my bag to identify me as a 'pie meal deal' eating lard arse. But hey, we have proven that pies don't make you fat so I wore that sticker with pride!

Bristol PieratePierateer Rob was especially pleased that they brought over a Beef pie. He doesn't like curry pies, so we avoided another Cambridge 'only selling curry pies' United fiasco. Pierateer Sam does like curry pies. He also likes Beef pies. Being a 'pie meal deal' eating lard arse he opted for both! This was despite having a large pie before leaving home. The Pierate Ship was floating a little lower in the water on the way home that's for sure!

It is important to note that whilst the pie was served in a bag with the logo of the pasty company, Bristol Rovers contacted us to say that the pies are in fact made by an Australian company called Vili's. There could perhaps be better branding to promote Vili's who seem to be doing a fine job over here at Bristol. We have to admit that the Aussie seem to know a thing or two about meat pies in our experience. The Vili's beef Curry pie stood out as especially good compared to the competition at other grounds. The Beef pie didn't stand out but it was cooked well and it was at least a slight variation from the pies produced from the large national companies such as Pukka. Both of them held together well, with a thick sauce, making them ideal to eat by hand at a football match. The pastry was tasty but very flaky, perhaps overly so as I was picking flakes of pastry out of my beard for the next 24 hours. In some ways we were reminded of the flaky pastry often used for sausage rolls. At £3.20 for quite small pies these were some of the more expensive football pies we have had. However, we both agreed that we would rather have a smaller pie that we wanted to eat rather than some of the bad pies we have eaten recently at football matches. Despite being small, both pies were well filled.

The flavour of the Curry pie really impressed Pierateer Sam. It was well spiced but also really meaty. The beef added plenty of flavour and gave a more satisfying experience than other football curry pies which predominately use chicken in our experience. The beef was in nice chunks which had a bit of bite, almost, but not quite verging on too chewy. Whilst not really hot, it had some chili taste which was welcome. The filling worked well with the flaky pastry. The pie looked overcooked but fortunately didn't taste dried out.

Bristol Football Curry PieBristol Football Curry Pie

Sam and Rob both found some variation in the filling of the Beef pie. Sam was lacking in beef chunks almost entirely, whereas Rob found a reasonable meat content which wasn't chewy. However, Sam was quite happy with the flavour of the meaty sauce. It reminded him of a more peppery version of the Pukka Beef and Onion. Rob found the pepper too strong and that the other flavours just didn't really do enough to stand out. There was a great gloss to the gravy and the Beef pies were well cooked. Rob scored the pie very slightly higher than Sam but they were both agreed that it wasn't a bad effort.

Bristol Football Beef PieBristol Beef Pie

The catering staff explained that Vili's make the pies fresh for the match and they are cooked on site in ovens just before the game. This is certainly an advantage compared to the frozen and microwave options adopted at other grounds. The strong score for the Curry pie see Bristol Rovers up to 3rd place in our PIEremiership Football Pie League. Arrrgh'll be back for more!

Curry Pie (Bristol Rovers FC/Vili's)

[Colour 5.5, Capacity 5, Consistency 5.8, Condition 4.8, Chewiness 5.8, Cheapness 4.2, Content 6.3]


Beef Pie (Bristol Rovers FC/Vili's)

[Colour 5.3, Capacity 4.8, Consistency 4.5, Condition 5, Chewiness 5.5, Cheapness 3.5, Content 4]

continue reading "Pierate Pillage Pirates"

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Pierate's Football Pie features on Channel 5!

Birmingham Pie League to expand the PIEremiership

There's always been a strong link between football and pie. We've highlighted it many a time, including in our "Pies and Football - a match made in heaven" article. We've even created the PIEremiership, to record the half time pies we've eaten at football grounds across the country and the exciting news is that we're expanding it to cover all five West Midlands clubs. With Walsall already covered but rated over 5 years ago (in what was actually Pierateer Rob's second ever pie review!) we've decided to go on a West Midlands Football Pie Tour, with all five grounds in the Birmingham area being covered.

Aston Villa, Birmingham, West Brom and Wolverhampton's football pies have already been put under the spotlight in the past few weeks and Walsall's is still to come this weekend, as we look to find out whose pies hit the back of the net and which ones will be paying the penalty! You've been able to follow our progress on our twitter and reports will be added to an article I'll be writing about the Birmingham Football Pie League for Buzzfeed in the coming few weeks!

But without us even realising, Channel 5's "Football League Tonight" programme got in there early and spotted us pie rating at the Wolves v Huddersfield game on Saturday, featuring our photo on their football highlights show! Thanks to Steve Bartley and Thom Bartley for pointing it out to us on Twitter!

Wolves Football Pie on Channel 5
Football on 5 showed our half-eaten pie on Channel 5!

Check out the football pies we've rated so far in our PIEremiership!

Pierateers filming with BBC Sport
And speaking of football pies, you may well have seen that Pierateer Rob was called upon by BBC One hit show "Rip Off Britain" to give his expert pie opinion recently on football pies. You can find out more about what he said by visiting our Rip Off Britain: Football Pies article.

And if you want to find out more about the match winning pies they sell at Morecambe FC, currently top of our PIEremiership, you can see both Head Chef Graham and ourselves in a video on the BBC Sport website talking football pies!

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 "Pierate's Football Pie features on Channel 5!"

Saturday 3 October 2015

Devon Knows How They Make Them So Chunky

Chunk of Devon - Posh Fish, Steak & Ale and Steak & Stilton Pie Reviews

I have come across Chunk of Devon pies a few times now so I thought it was about time that I shared my thoughts on their pies. As the name suggests these pies are made in Devon, they are quite common in chips shops and bakeries in Devon which is good to see, it makes a change from the domination of Pukka pies in other parts of the country. They can also be brought in other places in the South West as well as on First Great Western trains.

Chunk do also make quite a lot of pasties which is probably of no surprise given that Devon is more well know for the alternative pastry product.  It is no coincidence then that these pies are quite pasty-like. In fact they are the closest thing in to a pasty in pie form that I have ever found. If you are a follower of Pierate you will know that we in no way consider a pasty to be a pie, it needs sides and a lid to be a pie. Therefore you might be shocked to hear me say that a pie tasting like a pasty is not necessarily a bad thing. I have nothing against pasties per se, it is mainly that annoying dry crimped edge that I dislike. But the strong, crunchy shortcrust pastry can actually be quite satisfying. Do away with the crimp, add a lid and you've got the makings of a decent pie!

I have tried a Steak & Stilton, Posh Fish and Steak & Ale. All of them had the same pasty-like pastry which tasted nice. It was perhaps a little too thick in places and therefore a bit doughy. They were oval in shape and a little rough around the edges, but only so much as to make them pleasingly handmade in appearance. The pastry was a glossy brown which you would expect from the Cornish pasty type pastry if in some cases a little paler than I would have liked. The pies were quite tall which gave them a decent capacity but they weren't always well filled. The scores are below ranked in order of preference.

Posh Fish - Cod, Salmon, Prawn & Haddock
Chunk of Devon Pie

Chunk of Devon PieI grabbed one of these hot in the Esplanade Fish Bar in Lynmouth for £3.70. This pie does stand out as one of the few proper fish pies I have had (many fish pies are not fully encased in pastry, but we have found a few, see the list here). There was a pleasant, mild, fish flavour with both white and pink fish visible in the pie. The peas and sweetcorn went well with the fish and added some variety. It was nice to find a pie which does something so different. On the downside, it wasn't very well filled and the filling was padded out rather a lot with potato so overall I don't think there was a lot of fish. It said it had prawns but there weren't any visibly discernible prawns in the pie. A pie which is tasty enough to get again if I fancied a change from a steak pie.

Posh Fish - Cod, Salmon, Prawn, & Haddock (Chunk of Devon/Lynmouth's Esplanade Fish Bar [EX35 6EQ])

Steak & Ale
Chunk of Devon Pie
Chunk of Devon PieI purchased this pie for £4.50 on a First Great Western train. It was a shame that I chose to purchase this one on the train because I paid a premium on the price which has reduced the score. It was Chunky by name and chunky by nature with quite a lot of decent steak chunks. These were tender and tasty. There was quite a strong ale taste which I liked, it made it taste a bit different. However, my Mum didn't like it. It was good to see some pieces of carrot to add a bit of variety but these had been cooked too long and were soggy. Other than that the taste and texture were good.

Steak & Ale (Chunk of Devon/First Great Western Trains)

Steak & Stilton

Chunk of Devon Pie
Chunk of Devon PieThe cheapest of the lot, just £3.30 from Dunster Deli in the picturesque town of Dunster in Somerset. The Deli was nice, I picked up some lovely bottles of real ale. Unfortunately this pie wasn't really heated up very well which might have affected my enjoyment. I was also caught off guard by the large quantity of mushroom which took up the pie, I think this should have been sold as 'Mushroom, Steak & Stilton' pie. I have nothing against mushroom but the texture can be a bit unappealing when you are expecting steak! The mushroom seemed quite firm and chewy. It didn't seem to work too well with the taste of the stilton. My personal preference wouldn't be to mix them together, but others may not feel the same. There was a mild stilton taste, it was welcome that it wasn't very strong because it can become a bit overpowering for me. There wasn't any visible bit of cheese, indicating it was well mixed in. There was a little meat but I would certainly go for the steak and ale next time to replace the mushroom with more steak!

Steak & Stilton (Chunk of Devon/Dunster Deli [TA24 6SF])

continue reading "Devon Knows How They Make Them So Chunky"

Friday 2 October 2015

Our Pie Diet Is Picked Up By National Newspaper

Back in British Pie Week 2014 Pierateer SJL ate pie for every meal in any attempt to show that pies shouldn't be so heavily blamed for our obesity problems, finding that he actually lost weight during the 21 pie meal challenge. You can read the full story of his exploits in the original article. Now this story has been picked up by national newspaper the Daily Star Sunday and can be read on their website. We are pleased to see that the Daily Star Sunday are spreading our message that pies can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Given that a pie can also contain meat, vegetables and carbohydrates, it can be quite a balanced meal in it's own right. We should know, after all, we eat a lot of pies! We hope that this encourages others in the media to stop unfairly associating pies and obesity.

Pierateer RAS had recently been featured in the paper, giving them advice on what makes a good pie as they launched their own pie competition, 'The Great British Pie Off' and in the process bringing their attention to the worlds leading pie review blog!

continue reading "Our Pie Diet Is Picked Up By National Newspaper"

Thursday 1 October 2015

MyPie Steak a claim for the top London pie!

MyPie London Steak and Ale Pie Review

Street Food Markets are a great place to sample the delights of the local food scene and of course London has more than its fair share of food providers! So this weekend, basking in the sunshine of a late September heat wave, two Pierateers headed down to London’s South Bank Street Food Market, at the back of the South Bank Centre, for another taste of MyPie.

You may have heard of the name. After all, MyPie have already had their Chicken pie rated as the highest ranking Chicken pie in London at 6.39/7. And we just recently announced that Chris’ pies will be headlining our 6th Birthday Pie-rty on 14th November, which we’re really looking forward to!

So what pie were we rating this time?

MyPie London Steak and ale pie review
MyPie London Steak and ale pie review
Well, it’s no secret from a quick glance at our 500+ pie rankings that we’re rather a fan of steak and ale pies, so knowing that Chris had this flavour in his repertoire, we knew we needed to get our hands on this pie! However it became clear after Pierateer Rob first sampled these pies that there was something particularly special about them, which was why Pierateer Sam (on Saturday) and Pierateer Rob (on Sunday) popped down to London to officially pie rate these steak and ale beauties!

MyPie London Pie Truck
MyPie London Pie Truck
With such a large number of food suppliers at the South Bank Street Food Market, you had to infiltrate the hustle and bustle of the market to get across to the MyPie truck, hidden away slightly at the back of the market. However with its distinctive red and white d├ęcor and the word “pie” on it numerous times, it wasn’t hard to know we were in the right place! This was our first experience of being served from the converted ice cream van’s hatch, as Pierateer Rob had previously met Chris in Wimbledon to get his hands on the chicken and steak pies.

Service was quick and easy, with the main dilemma being “mash or mustard mash” and how much gravy to have with the pie and mash. Of course being a piefessional, Pierateer Rob opted to have the pie in one tray and the mash doused in gravy in the other. When you’re rating a pie, you want to just rate the pie. No excuses for additional mash/gravy influencing the rating where at all possible!

So how was the steak and ale pie? Well… “wow!” Does that help? Perhaps “one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten” is a bit more descriptive? After over 500 pies being rated on the web’s leading pie review blog it can be hard to get amazed at filling fully encased in pastry anymore. But there you would be wrong!

MyPie London Steak and ale pie review
MyPie London Steak and ale pie review

The pastry on the MyPie steak and ale pie is near spot on. It’s crisp on the outside and a bit softer and gooey in the middle, not too thick but with great structural integrity. You can pick it up with your hand. You can cut easily through it with cutlery (even plastic cutlery!) and most importantly it just tastes delicious. End of! A key indicator we look at with pastry is “would I eat this pastry on its own, without filling?” – and the answer with MyPie pastry is a definite “of course I would!!!” While you could perhaps give it a slight critique that the design is quite simple, it stands tall and proud, just like the ultimate pie should!

But a pie is not pastry alone – as we recently pointed out when being interviewed for a national newspaper. It is the balance between filling and pastry, which we refer to as the filling:pastry ratio, that really makes or breaks a pie. And this pie’s ratio is near piefection. Never was I thinking there’s too much filling or (as is more common on lower quality pies) there’s too much pastry. The ratio was spot on, with a near full capacity of filling in the pie.

The flavour of the filling was so nice and meaty and the steak so tender. It had a small amount of veg, a nice taste of herbs and a flavoursome aley gravy, which gave it a slightly fruity feel. Fantastic – a bit like a casserole that my grannie would have made (except much nicer). The gravy was just the right thickness to be moist but not leak all over you.

The pie had been slightly stronger seasoned in the first pies that we both tried than in the second samples, with the stronger seasoned pie (rosemary and pepper) more to Sam’s taste and the slightly less seasoned one more to Rob’s. We put this slight variation down to these pies being handmade in small batches, with a bit of season variation such as the rosemary available in Chris’ garden when we tried the first pies, which was less apparent in the second pies. But the bottom line is that we both thought these were all some of the best pies we’d ever had, and the best we’d had this year.

Chris has done a fabulous job with these pies and we wish him and his MyPie em-pie-re all the best for his exciting future expansion plans! With pies like these, he is definitely onto a winner! They are once again Pierate Highly Recommended and at the time of reviewing are the new top pie in London!

MyPie Steak and Ale Pie
Score: 6.61/7
[Colour 6.75, Capacity 6.75, Consistency 6.5, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.75, Cheapness 6.5, Content 6.5, Total: 6.61/7]

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 "MyPie Steak a claim for the top London pie!"