Saturday 21 May 2016

Wedding Pie? Don't mind if "I do!"

Pierateer Rob is particularly excited at the moment as today marks not only two weeks until his sister Carly gets married to Alex, but he managed to persuade them to have pork pies at the wedding buffet in the evening! The main catch was that he'd have to pay for them himself... but that's alright for a once in a lifetime op-pie-tunity! He's therefore delighted to say he has commissioned two "wedding pies" - yep, they're a thing! - to be made by Bray's Cottage for the big day on Saturday 4th June!

Brays Cottage Pork Pie
The individual Bray's Cottage Pork Pie we rated previously

Rob was therefore left drooling at the slightly teasing photo below that Sarah, owner of Bray's Cottage with the quite apt web address, uploaded to twitter the other day. It was in fact a pie made for a different wedding, but it certainly made him want to lick his phone screen! (Disclaimer: Rob didn't actually lick his phone screen!)

Sarah, who has appeared on TV with Heston Blumenthal on a show about pies (and only went and made the news in the "Thetford and Brandon Times" online newspaper about it!!!) and been in countless pie articles in newspapers and magazines (like the Guardian), really is passionate about making top quality pies and the pork pies we've tried of hers have been some of the best we've had. Check out the review Sam did previously, where it was really only the cost of the pie that brought the average down a bit but still it pie rated very highly! Of course, you often only get top quality food when you're willing to part with your cash and we are very excited to sample the wedding pie in two weeks time!

Until then, Rob best start finish the little speech he's writing for the wedding, which ***SPOILER ALERT*** may possibly mention the word "pie" in it...
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Friday 20 May 2016

Parsnip ship Pierate ship

Parsnip Ship Pie Review to celebrate National Vegetarian Week (16th - 22nd May 2016)

The ParsnipShip specialise in vegetarian and vegan foods, selling their wares at various farmer’s markets and fayres around the country. Pierateer SJL and I happened across their stand at the Gloucester Christmas market.

While many companies make veggie foods as part of their ranges, it always pleases me to find one that specialises. Often their pies have more unique flavours and unusual fillings.

Upon The ParsnipShip stand there were two veggie pies: Indian Balti (which was also vegan) and a mushroom something (I have forgotten precisely… possibly stroganoff)

Both these pies were slightly unusual in that if they were inverted and microwaved that would become a ‘pudding’. Of course, this isn’t the number one pudding rating site, so I kept them right way up and popped them in the oven.

The Indian Balti had a dry and crispy pastry, but intentionally so. It had a beautiful golden colour. I think it may have been flavoured/coloured with turmeric. It complemented the lovely curry flavour which was warm without being too hot. The pastry on the bottom was lovely and soft – I don’t know if this has anything to do with its possible pudding transformation, but it was really nice having a pastry crispy on top and soft at the bottom.

The pie was chock full of content, and the filling was tender with the perfect amount of crunch. The chickpeas inside provided a good portion of protein and I enjoyed the orange vegs. Overall though, it was a little dry.

It wasn’t a large pie, but this suited my appetite nicely. I imagine it would be a great compliment to a curry, or some Indian side dishes.


The mushroom pie had the same pastry, without the turmeric. It was however more buttery, but then, this one wasn’t vegan so it probably actually had butter in it. Inside was a lovely combination of green lentils, mushrooms and tomatoes which was also quite dry, but again, a nice portion of protein. The buttery pastry complimented the tartness of the tomatoes wonderfully.

It was quite a bland flavour but it a good way. It let the mild, nutty flavour of the mushrooms and the buttery pastry speak for themselves without being overpowered.


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Monday 9 May 2016

I real-ly can't fault these pie much!

The Real Pie Company Steak and Horseradish and All Day Breakfast Pie Reviews

It has been almost two years since I first got my hands on the amazing pies being sold by The Real Pie Company, which all rated at least as Pierate Recommended but with plenty of Pierate Highly Recommended pies including a 6.46/7! And with well over 3,000 views of that review and countless appearances on TV shopping channel QVC now under their belt, I thought it was about time I got hold of a few more! And with me celebrating the big 3-0 last month, it felt an apt time to put in an order to entertain the guests at the pie-rty and see what new offerings The Real Pie Company could provide.

The Real Pie Company pies
The Real Pie Company pies
I was therefore both amazed and delighted that The Real Pie Company were willing to send us several free boxes of pies - containing 20 pies in total! - to keep our guests happy at the pie-rty and also a couple of new pies that were either new or not quite on their books yet but coming out soon! These were the Limited Edition Steak and Horseradish pie and the All Day Breakfast pie, which contained bacon, sausage, egg and baked beans.

The morning after the pie-rty before!
Firstly the Steak and Horseradish pie, which came in the beautiful packaging of similar style to the previous pies I had before. The pie was a decent size, coming out nice and golden in colour with a great capacity upon cutting it open. Because I served it alongside a Peppered Steak and a Steak and Stout pie, I did have to ensure I got the right one (as they all looked quite similar!) but was delighted to tuck in and find it just as good as the steak pies I had previously and one of the best steak pies I have had in a while.

Real Pie Steak and Horseradish Pie Review
Steak and Horseradish Pie Review
The filling was “Crammed to the Crust” just like the slogan that adorns the pie packaging on these pies warns you! Not that I'm complaining one bit, with capacity one of the famous 7 Cs we rate pie on. And the Real Pie Company pies had a really good capacity throughout their range. The pies had a good pastry – golden and crisp – with a classic shortcrust base and sides and puff pastry lid. The meat was in general very nice and tender, with a nice gravy and hint of horseradish that added flavour but didn't overpower the taste.

At £2.95 each for a pie so packed with meat, this represents a good price, though they aren’t the biggest pies and thus aren’t quite the perfect value pies. But you can buy in bulk on The Real Pie Company website to get your pies cheaper. I'd certainly rate this pie as strongly as the other Steak pies in their range and let you decide which you'd choose based on your own personal preference of steak accompaniment!

The Real Pie Company Steak and Horseradish Pie
Score: 6.21/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 6.25, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.5]

Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie Review
The Real Pie Company's All Day Breakfast Pie cross-section
It was also a treat to get my hands on an All Day Breakfast pie, particularly as these were so new that they had a temporary packaging while the official package design is completed and printed off! Talk about hot off the press!!!

Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie Review
Lifting the lid on the Real Pie All Day Breakfast Pie
We've had a few All Day Breakfast pies in our time on the Pierate Ship, with a slight variety in filling in each one. This one from the Real Pie Company had a layer of bacon, topped with sausage, topped with an egg, surrounded in baked beans and finally all fully encased in pastry! Quite a mouthful to say and also to eat, this pie was once again packed to the top with filling, and when I "lifted the lid" on this pie, so to speak, it was clear what care and precision had been put into making this pie. The layers of food and lovely arrangement of baked beans made it a visual treat, while also gaining consistency in the filling.

A couple of things to note: There was a nice range of flavours in the pie but it was quite dominated by the sausage meat (which does make sense, as it was the largest item in the pie). Plus the baked beans didn't really have much of a distinct tomato-ey taste, which was fine for me as I don't like overly-tomato flavoured foods, but for someone who loves the normal tomato-ey taste of full English breakfast beans, this wouldn't tick your box! I however enjoyed the taste combo, and my main reminder to you is that this pie is a lot more filling than you might imagine, what with it being a calorific all English breakfast which has then been encased in pastry as well!!! All in all though, it was the best All Day Breakfast pie I'd sunk my teeth into, so great job!

The Real Pie Company All Day Breakfast Pie
Score: 6.11/7
[Colour 6, Capacity 6.5, Consistency 5.75, Condition 6.5, Chewiness 6.25, Cheapness 5.5, Content 6.25]

So there we have it: they real-ly have done a great job with these pies – with two more Pierate Highly Recommended pies to add to their long list of accolades! And I'm delighted to hear there are other pies in the pie-peline, so we look forward to giving them a pie rating soon!

Many thanks to Brett at The Real Pie Company for sending both these two pie samples and lots of other pies for our Birthday Pie-rty. It was a great night because of the great pies! And thanks to Amy, Becca, Dan, Hannah, Jeremy, Katharina and Laura for coming along to our after pie-rty pie meal!


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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Friday 6 May 2016

Are Putney Pies REALLY the finest in the land?

Putney Pies - Pie Reviews

Since we started reviewing pies many years ago, one of our most popular articles has been our best pies in London page. You might think that it would be fairly easy to keep this one up to date. We already have a thorough list - so all we need to do is review any new places that spring up? But with London being classified as a "Mega City" it has proven anything but easy. In the time it takes to mop up the gravy from one pie the hipsters are already raving about a new pop up shop where they only serve indigo food and you must use chop sticks BUT they do a plum pie which is TO DIE FOR!!!

Or there are the places a little outside the city centre and it's just a bit difficult to find your way over there especially to try a pie. Sure, we might come across as single-minded pie-obsessed maniacs but sadly there are other things we have to worry about in our lives such as work, sleep, our deadly pollution levels and regular dental check ups. (Okay, maybe they aren't that regular...) All of these things sadly eat in to our pie reviewing schedule. Combine that with the fact that only Pierateer Tim actually lives in London and you might understand why it took us so long to visit Putney Pies. Their slogan promises that they deliver "the finest pies in the land" and given that they specialise in pies it seemed a must for the Pierateers to check them out!

Putney Pies Review
Putney Pies - self labelled "the finest pies in the land"
When we were recently looking for somewhere to get a special pie to celebrate Pierateer SJL's birthday it seemed like a good enough occasion to trek over to Putney and they have also recently opened "The Vault". This is underneath their main restaurant and is built into one of the arches of Putney Bridge itself. It seemed like it might provide the unique pie setting we were looking for. Certainly the atmosphere inside was special and we all enjoyed it! You sit within the brick arch and it feels like some kind of bunker where you could take refuge from nuclear war and the only food to eat for the rest of time is pie. Sam was in two minds about how he would feel about that one... but anyway, this is a great setting for pie. It remains classy; some pie related decor but they forgo the in your face kitch pie paraphernalia that other places resort to. At weekend evenings the music turns up and you can imagine it is a great party venue with people getting off their faces on pie!

Putney Pies Vault
Four of the Pierateers were present at this meal
It was good to see a choice of 7 Proper Pies which is well above average for a restaurant but expected for somewhere such as Putney which is specialising in pies. They do also offer a range of 'pot pies' or 'casseroles with pastry lids' as we might call them. We were please they used the slightly inferior 'pot pie' term for these pies but puzzled as to why they don't offer the choice of pastry case with all flavours as other places do. Pierateer Sam ordered a classic, the Steak and Ale for £10.95 (now £11.95) with mash and gravy which is pretty average for a London pie in this kind of setting. He also got the 'pie bites' starter which was 3 mini pies for £5.95. Pierateer Rob got a Beef Bourguignon and they could also cater for Pierateer Anna Senior (veggie) and Pierateer Anna Junior (gluten free). However this did mean a top-crust, spicy butter bean pie and a shepherds pie respectively.

Pie Bites, but are they pies?
Sam had this to say about the starter: "The pie bites arrived and were somewhat baffling, they certainly didn't look like pies to me, seemingly more like sausage rolls in appearance. The flavours were nice enough but, as with many pies of this size, it is difficult to get the pastry to filling ratio right. Given that they didn't look anything like pies I won't review them here but expect to see them winning the British Pie Awards in 2017." (Cheeky reference there to a pasty winning the British Pie and Pasty Awards 2016, of course!)

Putney Steak Pie
Steak & Ale Pie

Putney Steak Pie

Sam continues: "Now onto the meat of this review and when I say meat that was the star of this pie show. It was well filled with proper pieces of flavoursome steak. They sat in a tasty gravy made with London Pride ale which was just the right consistency. This was a decent sized pie, well filled with chunks of meat which felt like decent value at this price. The pie also looked fantastic, reminiscent of the recently defunct Paul's Pies and it was nice to see them put the effort in to make it look good. It had a lovely glaze on top but this was a bit patchy.

Sadly though Putney were always setting themselves up for a bit of a fall by claiming to have 'the finest pies in the land'. This certainly was a long way off being the finest in London, let alone England. With such high expectations I was left rather disappointed. The pastry was quite a let down. It was too crumbly and a bit tasteless. The biggest problem was that some of the meat was too chewy. While I like something to get my teeth into, this was too much and could have done with being cooked for longer. Unfortunately overall this was not a pie I could quite Pierate Recommend, although the overall experience at Putney Pies was good." (As with all our reviews, the score only reflects the pie itself, not the venue.)

Steak & Ale (Putney Pies)
Score: 4.89/7
[Condition 5.1, Colour 5.0, Cheapness 4.5, Capacity 5.6, Chewiness 3.9, Content 4.9, Consistency 5.2]

Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review
Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review

Pierateer Rob went for the Beef Bourguignon pie - also £10.95 at time of purchase - and had this to say: "The setting was great - never been in an underground vault like that before, let alone to eat pie there! I was excited to see the range of pies on the menu, even if a lot of them turned out to be casseroles with a pastry lid or even potato bakes!!! But there was still a decent selection of fully encased in pastry pies to choose from.

The Beef in the Beef Bourguignon pie was quite nice, not too chewy and had a good flavour to it. Upon starting the pie I enjoyed the taste, with the filling nicely complementing the pastry. However after a while it was clear the pastry:filling ratio wasn't quite right, especially with quite a dry and crumbly pastry (as Sam has already pointed out). In the end there was some leftover pastry as it just wasn't quite nice enough to eat on its own. But the filling was better than in Sam's pie, and I would happily eat another one if offered, so it sneaks a low Pierate Recommended from me."

Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie
Score: 5.07/7
[Condition 5, Colour 5, Cheapness 4.5, Capacity 5, Chewiness 5, Content 5.5, Consistency 5.5]

Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Pie Review
Putney Pies Beef Bourguignon Cross-Section
Matt Barr, the owner of Putney Pies was good enough to come and talk to us. He has big plans to take up more space in adjoining arches in order to produce more pies which can be sold around London. His business plans sound enticing and we really wish him well. With some tweaks these could be great pies. We think part of the problem may be that Phil doesn't really like pies himself. Most of the really great pie places have a chef or owner who is fanatical about pies. And we mean fanatical!!!Whilst he is mainly focusing on the business side, we are sure Scotsman Phil can be successful with the right people around him. We wish him all the best in the future!


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 "Are Putney Pies REALLY the finest in the land?"