A well executed pie is not only a thing of great beauty, but a British staple, so it seems only right to sing this humble dish’s praises. On 23 January the country celebrates National Pie Day, a day dedicated to flaky pastry, meaty (or fishy) fillings, potatoes and lashings of good gravy. Here are our top picks of the best pies in London and the UK…
All pies: £12
“The best pies ever!”, and other “good old-fashioned British fare” make this Mayfair gastropub the perfect place to over-indulge in suet pastry and ale – be sure to ask about the Pie Club!
The Windmill has its own pie menu which includes the traditional Steak & Kidney with suet pastry. But for those looking for something a little different there’s spicy chicken and chorizo pie with rocket salad, hummus and tzatziki or try their seasonal game pie (venison, pheasant, partridge).
Try their Steak & Kidney Pie (three times national champion): £16.50
“In a back mews in the heart of posh London” – an old-fashioned (“cramped”) Mayfair stalwart attached to a cute pub, acclaimed for its pies; it’s “not so cheap” and sceptics fear “well past its prime” nowadays, but fans still approve its quaint style and “great steaks”.
Pies from: £5
It helps to be a fan of the Gunners if you visit this “small” ‘pie deli’ near the Emirates, whose “great range of pies, roasties and gravies” is named for members of the Arsenal team – “good grub at good prices”, plus an “ever-changing” list of beers and wines.
Try the classic Steak & Ale or one of their footballer-inspired creations like The Ian Wright (lamb, veg and a hint of mint), all served with roasties or mash and red wine gravy. Utterly rammed on match days – you have been warned.
Beef, Guinness and oyster pie: £17.95
“Tanks full of sparkling sea food” showcase the “breathtakingly fresh” oysters, shellfish and other “flavoursome” fare at these “happy and bustling” outfits. Top Menu Tips – “an historic beef and oyster pie”, and “blissful oyster Happy Hour”.
Suet crusted venison and bacon pie: £15.50
Brompton Food Market duo Luke Mackay and David Turcan took the helm at this South Ken neighbourhood gastropub last autumn and so far have received very positive feedback on their simple fare at decent prices. To celebrate National Pie Day, The Hour Glass are offering a seasonal dish of suet crusted venison and bacon pie, served with celeriac mash and juniper braised red cabbage.
Duck vindaloo pie: £15
Opened just before Christmas 2015, this new City Indian on the site of Chrysan (long RIP) is brought to us by former Cinnamon Kitchen head chef Abdul Yaseen. Yaseen has developed this pie drawing inspiration from the Stewarts family in Essex. It showcases authentic vindaloo flavours from Goa and uses Gressingham duck and Goan palm vinegar.
ACROSS THE UK
Classic pies: £13
“Just what Berkhamsted needed!”, say fans of Richard Bradford’s newly relocated newcomer, whose clean, contemporary styling makes a total break from the English heritage theme of its decades in Covent Garden (from which it was driven out by a rent review). Its nowadays “sensibly more limited” brasserie menu still has the pies that used to be its hallmark, but is much more modern in style, and seems a good fit with its local market.
Try their gamekeepers pie; steak, Guinness and mushroom pie; or lamb and apricot pie. All served with a jug of jus, glazed vegetables and a choice of potato.
Their game pie is not to be missed. Mains start from £13.50.
“In a beautiful village in the deepest wilds of Bowland”, this “idiosyncratic” and “joyous” destination – “a proper, big, slightly ramshackle country pub” – serves “exciting” fare that’s “truly exceptional” and “well worth a (long) detour”. “Stosie’s classical cooking is influenced by cuisines from all over the world, with a real focus on local ingredients (wild produce, game, etc)” to create “something not too fancy and full of terroir”. “Hospitality like hers, AJ’s and Kathy’s is a rare thing”, and though service “can come under pressure when it’s busy” the overall effect is “engagingly wonderful”. And “my god, they feed you!” – “you’ll have to undo all trouser buttons and not eat for another 24 hours afterwards!”. Top Menu Tips – “the best game pie ever” and “anything that sounds Middle Eastern”.
Fish & lobster pie for 2: £30
“Overlooking the ruins of the West Pier”, the Hilton Metropole’s sleek new restaurant is an “unexpected gem”, offering “really innovative fish dishes”; being a seriously “buzzy” spot, it’s perhaps not one for a tête-à-tête. Top Menu Tip – “the dessert called ‘Taste of the Pier’ is utterly wonderful”.
Salt Room’s Fish & Lobster pie is served alongside Seaweed Hollandaise and greens and is for 2 to share at £30.
Chicken & mushroom pie with mash: £12
This “lovely” Cotswold pub wins diners’ hearts with its “imaginative” menu, and service that’s generally pretty “reliable” too.
Take comfort in this British classic at The Churchill Arms, the first venture from Nick Deverell-Smith – named the Junior Chef of the Year in 2000. A local boy, Deverell-Smith has worked alongside Marco Pierre-White, Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Waring and Eric Chavot, before becoming head chef at Soho House and then Dean Street Kitchen.
This rural Suffolk pub & kitchen is offering its guests not one, not two but three pies: Rabbit, Bacon and Mushroom, Beef and Ale and a fabulous Fish Pie. Created by head chef Dave Wall, these pies are perfect for warming up those long, dark and chilly January days. The Unruly Pig opened in Bromeswell in March last year but hasn’t yet been reviewed in our survey. Have you been? Please sign in and leave a diary review.
Sustainable fish pie: £12
Head to one of this small hotel chain’s charming country inns (found in Cookham, Kingsclere, Reading and Windsor, Berks; and Godalming Surrey) this National Pie Day for their Sustainable Fish Pie. The fish is poached in sorrel & bay infused stock, which is then used to make the cream sauce. The pie is served with a gloriously golden top, petit pois and plenty of steamed vegetables.
Or head to Shiplake for a stalkers pie, the ultimate winter warmer for a cold January night. Always sourced locally, this pie encompasses chunks of venison braised slowly with garlic, carrots and onions, married with a rich tomato and red wine sauce. The filling is topped with a puff pastry lid, and served with crusty homemade bread and seasonal greens.
On Wednesdays they have a Pie & Pint night. A choice of two homemade pies and a draught pint for £9.40.
The George’s proper pie: £16
“An atmospheric Peak District pub” in a beautiful Lakeland setting, with “tasty food” and “enthusiastic service” – the kind of place to enjoy “a top burger” or “delicious steak and Stilton pie”.
The Scran & Scallie cottage pie: £16
Despite the odd accusation of “hype”, there’s no doubting Tom Kitchin has a hit on his hands with his year-old “comfy and stylish” Stockbridge gastropub, serving “proper pub food, with a sprinkling of TK’s magic”. Top Menu Tip – “excellent steak pie”.