It’s high time (pie time?) for London to start getting real about dinner — those faffy small plates aren’t going to cut the mustard any longer. The capital is sliding towards the depths of winter and, as is always the case, will be at its grim and inhospitable worst for months. Outsiders might make fun of all the mashed potato, but it’s a vital second line of defence against the all-consuming drizzle and gloom. The first? Pie.Read More
15 Great Pies to Eat in London This Winter
From 100 year old East End pie (and mash) to Calum Franklin’s works of modern art
1. Beef and onion pie at Manzes
Been kicking it in east London for years but still haven’t been to a traditional pie and mash shop? Sort it out. L Manze opened in 1929 and thanks to its racing green and white tiles, mahogany booths and “exceptionally complete interior”, it’s got a Grade II listing. Classic meat pies come with a big smush of mash, and a ladleful of liquor (parsley sauce) — all for a fiver. The pies are quite shallow those, so the truly hungry might need to double up.
Also Featured in:
2. Curry pie at Young Vegans
London NW1 8AF, UK
No-one leaves this vegan truck feeling short-changed or gravy-deprived. It’s proper. The coconut oil pastry is thick and full of flavour and the fillings are cleverly imagined and delicious. The curry pie contains gently spiced butternut squash and kala chana peas (black chickpeas), and is served with mash and mango chutney on the side. Inspired.
3. Chicken and tarragon pie at The Drapers Arms
Beneath a hefty suet lid lurks an accomplished pie filling with a hint of bittersweet tarragon, which makes a pleasant change from all that leek (sorry to the leeks but they’re everywhere). This is a great weekend pie for people who like to go for Sunday roasts but not actually eat roasts, with some savoy cabbage and smoked chilli butter on the side.
4. Jerk chicken and porter pie at Piebury Corner – The Pie Bar
Whether or not the intersection of pie and Arsenal is worth caring about, this is a good spot for a casual pie. It started as a match day street stall, and now has a proper sit-down restaurant in King’s Cross. Pies used to be named after Arsenal players, but the links were mostly nonsensical, so they’ve dropped them (like Jack Wilshire). This fusion-ish jerk pie makes a spicy change. Pies can be eaten in, taken away hot, or bought to heat at home.
5. Beef shin, pickled walnut and onion pie at Marksman Public House
Here at one of London’s dreamiest pubs, they have a way of making every dish feel like an event, not least this majestic circle of a pie that’s made to be shared. There’ll be just enough room on the table for a mustardy salad and those fried potatoes with burnt onion mayonnaise — a version of pie and chips that’s so good, Londoners barely deserve it.
6. Cheddar, sage and onion pie at Albion Shoreditch
Some days call for a hit of cheesy pastry and sometimes, it has to be enjoyed in situ (or Gregg’s would be the ticket). At Albion, substantial, tasty pies made with good cheddar from the Isle of Mull are best eaten with triple-cooked chips on the side (to dip in the cheesy filling — in for a carb, in for a pound of carbs) and a glass of wine (civilised!).
7. Pork pie at Holborn Dining Room
Anyone who has heard of the Internet has seen Calum Franklin’s masterpieces — a fish-shaped seabass en croute here, a flawlessly latticed wellington there. No big deal. All in a day’s work. One of his key concerns is the pork pie. He takes this (often bad and weird) British classic and makes it magnificent (and crown-shaped), with pork shoulder, pork leg, pancetta, smoked ham hock and fennel seeds.
8. Chicken and leek pie at The Wigmore
London W1B 3DE, UK
This pie is a beautiful, fully-formed thing — as much a “pub pie” as this swish establishment is a “pub”. It’s got a thick, rich pastry outer (not just a lid), and the richest, most delicious filling laden with chicken and sweet, buttery leeks. It’s served with possibly the smoothest mash on this list, and a personal pot of mustard.
9. Pie of the Day at Quo Vadis
This Soho icon, with its stained glass and golden light, seems an elaborate choice for a no-reason mid-winter dinner, so pare it right back to their pie of the day; it’s all one could ever need. Pie fillings tend to be brothy, stocky and loaded with multiple meats (chicken, duck and bacon or beef and venison). As Christmas approaches, stay on high alert for goose pie.
10. Steak and kidney pie at The Windmill
For those who like pie and ale, plain and simple, this Mayfair pub is the one. As traditionalists, they’re particularly good at suet pastry. There’s a Christmas pie in the no-holds-barred style of the Christmas sandwich (turkey, ham hock, stilton, cranberry), but the steak and kidney is a “three times national championship pie”.
11. Chicken, mushroom and champagne pie at Bob Bob Ricard
It’s not just a pretty face (or rather, an ornate, scalloped, golden pastry crust), although that does help — those who subscribe to the “too pretty to eat” school of dinner might find it difficult to tap through this illustrious lid. But those who like rich, creamy pie fillings will find it easy. This pie is best with a glass of champagne on the side, but in these digs, that’s a given.
12. Fish pie at J Sheekey
Fancy people have been lunching on this legendary pie (and champagne) for a hundred years and it turns out they’ve been right to do so. The pie is an individual, golden, breadcrumbed beauty to be worked through alone. Under a cheesy mashed potato top, there are chunks of white fish and salmon in a creamy, mustardy sauce. No egg, though — a possible point of contention.
13. Partridge, trotter, and prune pie at Rochelle Canteen at The ICA
If anyone knows pie, Arnold and Henderson know pie. They’ll do magical, super-seasonal things with pie, like put chicken with girolles or wild garlic. And at their new ICA location, they’ve perfected these alluring, wintry, gamey numbers. This (or sometimes maybe a pheasant version) is on the menu until at least Christmas.
14. Pork, caramelised onion and black pudding pie at The Ginger Pig
Everyone’s favourite bougie butcher makes bits and bobs for its bakery in the traditional style, because — it says — historically, pastry was a way of making meat go further (see also: Yorkshire puddings). They do sausage rolls and hot pies, but the picnic pies are where it’s at. The ingredients in this one are layered up a treat inside a hot water crust, with jelly made the old-fashioned way (with pigs’ trotters).
15. Beef and onion pie at M.Manze
The Manze family knew they were on to something, so they divided and conquered. Michele Manze was Luigi’s brother and his legacy is in the south — in Peckham, Tower Bridge and Sutton. His places’ pie games are just as strong, too.