With a new wave of nationalism based on wanting British things to remain great, now’s the perfect time to embrace one of our culinary traditions, the pie.
But research, probably conducted by those pesky experts, reveals that the humble pie was conceived in Egypt, widely popular in ancient Rome, and used to preserve food on the pilgrimages and seafaring discovery expeditions of the twelfth century. Even our beloved mince pie was brought back from thirteenth-century travels to the Middle East. So, by embracing the pie, you are in fact giving multiculturalism a big old hug, actively supporting mankind’s burning desire to explore new lands and adopt new cultures. Suits us.
One place you can enjoy said multiculturalism is Pieminister on Long Row. We started with free-range pork scratchings (£3.50), long and crispy without being over-salted and teeth-shattering like their pub cousins. Reading their menu, I reckoned that if their pun game was as good as their pie game, we were in for a treat. My friend and I both went for the Feast of Stephen (£15), which includes any Christmas pie, mashed potato, red cabbage, a Crimbo Pimp Stick and a mince pie ice cream pie.
I selected Deer Santa for my Christmas pie; a rich combination of wild venison, bacon, red wine and green lentils, sat atop mashed potato and served with a boat of unctuous gravy – just like my mum makes – and a generous portion of peppery red cabbage. My mate went for the Mistle Moo: beef steak, Stilton, chestnuts, dry-cured bacon and port. A brilliant combination, and the Stilton level was just right. And the Crimbo Pimp Stick we mentioned earlier was revealed – a roasted brussel sprout, a pig in blanket and a ball of stuffing, stabbed into the top of your pie. Awesome.
As it was lunchtime and we had extremely important spreadsheets to gawp at later, we opted for non-alcoholic drinks – a shame as they have loads of fine craft beers, ciders and cocktails. A pint of apple and ginger spritz with fresh lime (£4) and fizzy water (£2), it was.
I’m not a dessert person and after a filling pie meal, the thought of more pastry was daunting. But I’m British, and because it was included in the price, I felt I had to indulge. Lemon meringue (£5); sweet pastry filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with lemon sorbet, hunks of meringue and strawberry sauce. My friend opted for the more seasonal mince pie version (£5) with gingerbread sorbet, mincemeat topping and vanilla custard.
Well worth a visit for a proper decent pie, and it’s worth noting that all the meat is 100% free range and the veggie stuff is approved by the Vegetarian Society – which is nice. Ash Dilks
57 Long Row W, NG1 6JB. 0115 824 6600