Mince pies are Marmitey (not literally; although, come to think of it...), adored and despised in equal measure. But 2020’s pies are available in so many guises — brothy and beefy versus citrus-aromatic, suet versus almond meal, macro versus micro — that even the ambivalent can find a room that appeals at the inn. As ever, the trend is away from domestic goddess twee towards savoury, suety, and distinctly medieval. Here’s where to find them.Read More
London’s Most Festive Mince Pies
Some rich and boozy, some light and tangy, some featuring actual mince
1. Ottolenghi Notting Hill
If there is such thing as a sleeper-hit mince pie, this might be it, with a booze-soaked fruit filling that hangs together rather than glooping, and exceptionally friable pastry.
2. Bread By Bike
London N7 0DD, UK
The only ancestral mince pies in the city. Bread by Bike’s 2021 mince pies are filled with a mincemeat fed by that of 2020, which adds a seriously adult depth of flavour to an already brandy-soaked interior. Sweet pastry doesn’t always work, but it’s exactly what this filling needs — a hit.
3. The Quality Chop House
Pies topped with a candied wheel of orange and a layer of almond frangipane, which is an inspired textural twist. These are citrusy, aromatic, and probably even release little clouds of essential oils on their way up from the oven downstairs. A softer set on the mincemeat here, all limpid, barely-suspended fruit and boozy liquor. A very refined and luscious little pie — available in multiples to order, too.
4. St John Restaurant
London EC1M 4AY, UK
Available across all their sites, but really to be paired with a glass of something spirited to cut through their weight. Marc say, or Vieille Prune. Size of a pork pie, more crust than crumb, the shortcrust pastry fired to an almost biscuit texture and the filling as staunch as a plum pudding — or as thick as tar, depending on the eater’s view. A pie to work or sleep on.
Anna Higham’s rightly celebrated mince (as in, real mince) pie may now be without its creator, but it lives on in the custody of Flor’s bakers in Borough Market (and at Lyle’s, where it originated.) It’s dense with beef from butcher Philip Warren, shredded to a treacly, booze-bound paste, and there’s also a vegetarian version made with quince. Pastry is a friable, demerara-studded shell that caves in to fatty shards. Take away or order online.
London N16 0EB, UK
Rightly famed for London’s best cookie, Esters is also a contender for the best mince pie. Playing rough-hewn off against lacy on the pastry front, these interim-sized pies will leave behind a dusting of pastry shrapnel in just the manner a good croissant would aspire to. A saltier, rather than sweeter number, which is a good thing, and featuring plump fruit-flecked aged mince. Small numbers daily, with an appearance on the counter around 9 a.m.
7. 40 Maltby St
London SE1 3PA, UK
Another mince pie taking its name seriously: yes, more meat. Beefy, brothy mincemeat with an edge feral tang; a deep bowl of textbook pastry that’s both fatty and frugal; a moat of yellow jersey cream. Savoury and sublime.
Diminutive mouthfuls of almond-rich pastry under a snowdrift of confectioners sugar, which gives these a softer, biscuit-like texture. More about the pastry than the filling at this size, so one for the mincemeat agnostics out there.
9. The Dusty Knuckle Bakery
One of the most consistent pies in the city, this Dalston bakery packs its pastry lids to the rafters with dark, sticky mincemeat, to the point that the hefty dusting of icing sugar is almost a necessary corrective to the maturity of the fruit.