With National Pie Week upon us, it's a timely excuse to pick out some of the best pies to be had in our fine capital today, from the downright decadent (why wouldn’t you use champagne in the filling?) to humble (but still delicious) pie & mash shop versions. While some foodies are pedantic about pies, for us whether it was encased in pastry or topped with mash, if we cleared our plates, then it made the cut.
Holborn - 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
Arguably London's premier pie-maker, Holborn Dining Room's Head Chef Calum has always been one to create some unbeatable pies (as a quick look at his Instagram feed will show you). He has a dedicated Pie Room in the restaurant (where you can grab takeaway pies) and a special pie section of menu too - not to mention pie masterclasses. One of the classics on the menu is the curried mutton pie with mango salsa. There's also an amazing veggie option - their potato, Comté & caramelised onion pie.
So yes, if you're serious about pies, this is the one place you must visit.
Mayfair - Carlos Pl, London W1K 2AL
The Connaught brought one of its own restaurants back from the archive when they relaunched The Connaught Grill, now run by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Part of the new menu is the daily changing pie with variations including Oxtail and Bone Marrow or the above Chicken and Foie Gras. Their seafood pie is pretty impressive too - with both pastry and mash as a topping.
Islington (209-211 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DL) and King's Cross (3 Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9DX)
Following the London trend of street-stall to bricks and mortar, Piebury Corner was billed as the UK’s “first ever Pie Deli” when it opened. Husband and wife team Nicky and Paul Campbell were selling pies, pastries and scotch eggs from their front garden to passing Arsenal fans before setting up their first Holloway Road deli. They also have a second pie deli in King's Cross, with more seating and extra pies. A must-visit if you're in the King's Cross area.
Old favourites such as Steak and Ale and Ox Cheek and venison sit on the list with newer vegetarian and vegan pies - as well as some more gluten-free options. And there's lots of gravy and mash, of course.
The Mall, St. James's, London SW1Y 5AH
A relatively new addition for pie-lovers, this saw the original and beloved Rochelle Canteen open a second - much more central - venue in the ICA and, more importantly, add an ever-changing pie to the menu. We loved the rabbit pie here so much that we pronounced it our favourite dish of 2017 and on the menu at the time of writing is a beef shin & pickled walnut pie.
87 Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 4TW
The original Manze’s pie and mash shop was founded here on Tower Bridge Road in 1903 and is still doing a roaring trade today. All pies are made from scratch on-site, starting with the beef which is minced using only prime cuts. As for the liquor, apparently, it includes a ‘special secret ingredient’ which they’re not about to divulge now. We love the Manze website, which bigs up the fact that Jim Davidson is a regular and boldly states that, ‘It is also said that David Beckham eats here when he is in England.’ Well, you can’t blame a joint for trying.
30 Bruton Pl, Mayfair, London W1J 6NL
There's been a pub on this spot since the 15th century and happily, The Guinea still looks fabulously unreconstructed. Pub landlord Oisin Rogers tells us: "the pie recipe has been the same since 1985. This recipe won the national steak and kidney pie competition three times. It's kept in the pub safe and we quality check the ingredients, process and recipe weekly. It's always been a bone of contention that it only has a lid, not a base, but it's always been like that at The Guinea, the suet lid is baked onto the pie filling and we've always served them with the ruff."
1 Upper James St, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Despite the hordes of Soho restaurants to come after it, the deliciously-OTT Bob Bob Ricard will never be out of vogue. Only they would take something as down-to-earth as a chicken and mushroom pie and elevate it to decadent heights by cooking the filling in champagne, topping it with a pretty patterned crust, then serving it with truffle gravy. Even better (if you're a vegetarian), they also do a Sauternes and truffle humble pie made with mushrooms, pecorino, lee, black truffle, pearl barley and sauternes.
6-8 Mill St, Mayfair, London W1S 2AZ
Ask a selection of pastry- loving Londoners where to get a decent pie and chances are The Windmill will come up more than once. With a pie club, a pie-dedicated YouTube channel and not one but two ‘pie rooms’, there’s little doubt that they take this stuff very seriously. The classic steak has won the National Pie Award three times. Enough said.
254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ
Head to Hackney's The Marksman and the one thing that's guaranteed to be on the menu all year round is a pie. Every pie is for two people and pies have included "braised lamb shoulder, wild fennel & green onion" and "chicken and chanterelle".
26-29 Dean Street, London, W1D 3LL
Every day is pie day at Quo Vadis where Jeremy Lee's beautifully drawn menus feature a pie of the day - paired with mash, it's 17.50. Recent pies have included a chicken, leek and tarragon pie, bhicken velouté and beef and bacon.
88-94 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 3EA
Having undertaken extensive tastings around town, there are some cracklingly good pork pies in London right now. However, we feel we can definitively state that one of the very best pork pies to be had in this city is being made at The Quality Chop House in Farringdon. Pick it up at their shop on Farringdon Road - whenever we visit we never come away with less than four of them...
60 Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF
Proving that meat-eaters don't get to eat all the pies, these vegan pie purveyors are going down a storm with their vegan steak and ale, chicken parmigiana and katsu curry pie. You'll find their shop tucked away in Camden Lock.
5 Regent St, London NW10 5LG
Inspired by The Dandy, Desperate Dan's famous cow pie with bone marrow is the dish you want to order at this Kensal Rise gastropub. It's huge, so you'll definitely want to share.
London Bridge - 32 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TU
Another restaurant that always has a special pie on the list is the very seasonal Native at London Bridge. The whole menu changes regularly, but a pie will always be on there - at the time of writing, it's this Deer Stalker Pie - a slow-braised pulled venison with onion purée and rich bone marrow breadcrumbs layered inside a cheesy pastry case.
And that's not all...
There are many more places for great pies including...
- Serving up pie, mash & liquor at St Paul's is Epic Pies (and they even have a Full English in a tart).
- Putney Pies has a huge pie menu, including "BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork Pie" and "Wild Rabbit & Apple Pie".
- J Sheekey's fish pie may not be a traditional pie, but it's one of London's signature dishes.
- Portland in Marylebone has a pithivier of duck & pigeon that is a marvel.
- The Drapers Arms in Islington always has a pie on and gives 50p to Action Against Hunger if you order it. Right now it's a suet crust beef & red wine pie.
- Fancy a pie to take home? Then a trip to any of the Ginger Pigs in London is a must.
- For classic pie and mash out east, head to Goddards of Greenwich which first started selling pies in 1890.
- In Soho, you can get your pie and mash fix at Mother Mash.
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