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. 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
From 100 year-old pie (and mash) to works of modern pastry art
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.
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.
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. He may have moved on from the sainted pie room, but it still takes the (often bad and weird) British classic, the pork pie, and makes it magnificent. Pork shoulder, pork leg, pancetta, smoked ham hock and fennel seeds do the job.
Chicken and leek pie at The Wigmore
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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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.
Empanadas at Elephant Coffee
Welcome to the hand pies. These rugby ball pleated Latin-Cornish pasties can be found dotted around the Colombian bakeries of Elephant and Castle. Look for them and they are impossible to miss, the colour of sunshine and filled with slow cooked strands of meat, ready to be liberally dipped in homemade aji. The best empanada of all in Elephant isn’t really an empanada, but the arepa de paisa at Elephant Coffee, a circular version filled with the entire contents of a bandeja paisa: chorizo, crispy chicharron, shredded chicken, black beans and plantain, a dumpling as neutron star — all for £3.
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Salteñas at Jenecheru London Restaurant
Imagine someone pointing at a Cornish pasty and saying “soup dumpling.” Essentially, that is the salteña, Bolivian versions of empanadas which are so much more than they appear. For one, they are baked rather than fried, and filled not with just meat but with gelatinous rich beef or chicken stew, often sweet with raisins, as well as chopped egg and a whole olive (sometimes dastardly unpitted), dribbling and squirting everywhere from the first bite. It’s possible to get versions of these around Elephant and Castle at many of the Colombian bakeries, but the real deal can be found at Jenecheru on Old Kent Road.
Literally any pie at 40 Maltby Street
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Ham hock, mustard, and cider pie at The Quality Chop House Shop
Bite into this pie in situ and experience horror, for it is raw. Yes, there’s some work involved for the diner — the pie must be taken home and cooked, or ordered for delivery — but it’s a mighty contender for a cold night in. The chicken and leek and cheddar and mushroom versions are both strong, but this pie is filled with titanic tangles of ham hock, the texture of which lets them integrate better into the rich, piquant filling than their fowl counterpart.
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A pie at Willy's Pies
They’ve been a fixture of online delivery for a good while, but Will Lewis’s pies now have their own arch (and weekly appearances in some of east London’s better butchers and food stores.) There’s pie and mash here — sometimes kale, Ogleshield cheese, and shallot; sometimes chicken and leek — but also a range of Greggs-besting slices; sausa
The pie at Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle Canteen’s pies follow simple rules: they come in great oval tureens; they are richly filled and topped with friable pastry; they are to be spooned out in great hulking portions. After that, the fillings change seasonally, to add an element of the unexpected to what is otherwise a great constant.
The pie at St. John Restaurant
St. John’s pies follow simple rules: they come in great oval tureens; they are richly filled and topped with friable pastry; they are to be spooned out in great hulking portions. After that, the fillings change seasonally, to add an element of the unexpected to what is otherwise a great constant.