Traditional Pie & Mash Shops

What is a Pie & Mash Shop?


Any restaurant that specialises in pie with mash potato could lay claim to being a Pie and Mash Shop (often called a Pie & Mash 'House'). However the term is generally used to refer to the traditional East London Pie, Mash & Eel Shops. But what has eel got to do with pie you might be wondering? Eel is closely linked to the origins of this tradition. Pies had long been a favourite amongst Londoners, however, during the industrial revolution the pollution in the River Thames became so bad that eels were the only fish that could survive and were quite abundant. This meant that pie-makers turned to eels as the meat for their pies. These were sold by the 600 piemen that walked London's streets. The pies were sold primarily to working class Londoners who needed a quick, cheap meal.

Pie & Mash

The first Eel & Pie shops can be traced back to the 1850s. These offered mash potato with the pies and a colourful parsley sauce made from the stock left over from cooking the eel (called 'liquor'). The shops began to replace the piemen as people took the opportunity for a sit down meal. Over time eel stocks became rare so beef became the more common pie filling. However, most Pie & Mash Shops will still sell jellied eel although due to low stocks this is now quite expensive.

Traditional Pie & Mash shops still exist in London and other parts of South-East England. There are also modern shops specialising in pie and mash and it is hard to distinguish the two. Traditional shops will always serve parsley liquor, which is often still made from eel stock. The pies will tend to be small, oval and shallow. Minced beef is the default flavour and the filling type might not even be advertised. It is not unusual to see it sold as just 'pie and mash'. Due to the historic spice trade in London chilli vinegar is a common accompaniment to pie and mash.

The older shops may also have original features such as narrow wooden booths and tiled walls.

Best Pie & Mash


Whilst some of the the traditional shops have struggled to keep in business, many of the best are surviving and in flourishing in some cases. The best traditional Pie & Mash rated by us is that found at L. Manze in Walthamstow. The building is grade II listed and retains many old features. The experience makes it well worth a visit. Similarly, M. Manze on Tower Bridge Road comes highly recommended both for the pies and historical interest. While not part of the same business the original L. Manze and M. Manze were relatives. This kind of confusing situation is common in the traditional London Pie and Mash world with multiple member of the Kelly family also having set up pie shops! See below the league table of shops reviewed by Pierate.

RankPie Retailer & ProducerLocation
1L. ManzeWalthamstow, E17 7LD
2M. ManzeTower Bridge Rd, SE1 4TW
3G. KellyBethnal Green Rd, E2 0DJ
4S. & R. KellyBethnal Green Rd, E2 0AG
5GoddardsGreenwich, SE10 9HU
6ClarksClerkenwell EC1R 4QE

You can also get a fantastically traditional pie, mash and liquor by ordering online at Eel House Pies.

Manze, pie, mash and eel

Mother Mash and Battersea Pie Station both try and capture the traditional Pie & Mash shop experience although they are modern equivalents. For instance, both give the option for parsley liquor with their pies. It must be noted however that the pies are a bit different to the traditional versions, but they are still recommended by us.

We also have a list of other recommended pies in London restaurants.

SJL

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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