Pies 120-122: Pie & Brew

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…and as he mopped the final splash of gravy off his chin he sat there and thought, “It’s time”. Meat Filled Pastries is back!

It’s been sixteen(!) months since I last posted on the site. Since then I’ve shifted some weight, done some travelling and I’ve just finished a three month stint living and working in Madrid. Of course I have done my fair share of eating too, both in pastry and non-pastry form, even going as far to set up a site for my eating adventures in Madrid without ever writing a single word. On my return though I did find myself thinking that now was the time to start looking for my next “creative avenue” all of which leads us to here and the return of Meat Filled Pastries.

This time around though I wanted to mix it up a bit and transfer my reviewing skills from the terraces to the table and truly go on the hunt for the best pies and scran around. For those who have followed my pie-scapades in the past have no fear as when a new pie at the football is sitting ready for consumption in my hand, one bite will be taken with a blob of brown sauce an old school Gravy Factor will be a-coming. Let’s just think of this as a widening of my pie-rizons.

As always, I will come at these reviews on the basis I am about to be provided with the kind of culinary joy that would make Gregg Wallace’s love affair with inhaling spoons look like a quick peck on the cheek. The first couple will involve a bit of testing out on format and content and I may or may not branch out into other non pie related things too but either way I’m back writing and for me, and hopefully you, the person reading this, that’s a good thing. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie(s)!

Where: Pie & Brew, 129 Bath Street, Glasgow.

At the moment I’m not planning to go heavy on the ambience, decor, service etc. of any given venue, if something blows me away as good or bad I’ll mention it but for now my focus is on the food and food alone.

The Social: Website, Instagram, Twitter (because if you like the sound of somewhere I want you to be able to go snooping right in about it).

What’s it all about?: As their website states it’s pretty simple: “Beer, Music & Pies”, although as the Prince of Pies I think they should really be re-arranging their order a bit.

What was on my plate: Pie Board: 3 Mini Pies of Smoked Haddock & Spinach (with Mustard Sauce), Chicken, Leek & Ham Hock (with Chicken Gravy) and Haggis & Black Pudding (with Whisky Sauce). Neeps and Sweet Potato Fries (because Sweet Potato Fries are life).

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Price: 3 Mini Pie Board, Neeps & Gravy £12. Sweet Potato Fries £2.50. Total: £14.50.

Let’s get some eats: Ever since the tragic demise of Macgregors Pie & Ale Howff (boy do I miss that place) I have consistently moaned about the gap in the market for someone to exploit and open up a bar that sells good pies and good beer. With that in mind it was with much interest that I followed from Madrid the opening of Pie & Brew in Glasgow’s city centre and made a note to visit it as soon as I could on my return. This week I did.

Now as you can see I had not one, not two but three pies to contend with chosen from a roster of eight and so to keep myself right I’m going to judge them each on their individual merits before putting the pieces together to give my final opinion. First up, and going with what I felt was the most logical order to eat them in, was the Smoked Haddock & Spinach with Mustard Sauce adorned with a tiny pastry fish for ease of identification. Of the three, this one felt the best baked, golden and easily attacked with a fork from top to bottom, the filling had good large flakes of Smoked Haddock with a mixture of mash and spinach playing a supporting role. The haddock had good flavour and the whole thing came alive on pouring the sweet mustard sauce. Of the three this was my favourite, something I wasn’t expecting when I had placed my order.

Then followed the Chicken, Ham Hock and Leek which unfortunately had a few problems with it, as can be seen from the pictures it was well-fired, too well-fired if truth be told as the poor scorched chick on top would attest to. In fact the general over baking transferred itself into the pie as well as I initially had thought I’d been given the pulled pork option in error as the meat within was dark and had the texture that slow cooking often brings. It wasn’t until my palate was hit with the flavour of leek that I felt sure it was the chicken I was consuming. I love a good chicken & ham pie so to say this was a disappointment would be fair, although it has to be said that the gravy that accompanies was best suited to my sweet potato fries side order.

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My final offering from the pastry gods was that heady combination of Scottish staples Haggis & Black Pudding accompanied by a light and tasty whisky cream sauce. The pie itself was tasty enough although was again subject to some over-baking, in fact I had to use the gravy to moisten the base so I could cut it with a knife and fork. Whilst tasty I felt it could’ve been so much more than some haggis and black pudding wrapped in pastry and on reflection looking at the pies as a whole I found myself maybe just a little bit disappointed with my trio. It’s worth noting that the neeps, topped with a treasure trail of salt and pepper, which at first seemed an odd thing to do, were splendid and the sweet potato fries are everything you would want them to be but sides do not make a pie alone.

I think the slightly frustrating thing for me was I could see the potential for this to be something really good. They have a good range of beers, plenty of space and a couple of alternatives in case you are some kind of maddie who doesn’t like pies.

The big question now is, would I go back? And for me the answer would have to be yes and here’s why. Yes, the pies may not have been the best I’ve ever had but I can see the method behind what the folk at Pie & Brew are trying to do, and (not to labour a point) the potential for a bar specialising in good pies & beer. If I can’t get on board with this then really I have to question everything I’ve ever written over the last few years. I am always willing to give the benefit of the doubt on the basis of one visit and I would hope that the second really does hit the mark.

Pros

  • Wide variety of pie based treats
  • Good range of beers (A beer pairing service for the pies could really take it up a notch)
  • High quality sides & sauces

Cons

  • A bit well fired

So that was Pie & Brew, room for improvement but far from a lost cause and a nice segue into this bold new era for Meat Filled Pastries. I’d love to hear what people think, is a less regular but solely pie based site the future? or do you want to see what else tickles my taste buds in Glasgow town and beyond? If you want to see what that could be all about then you can follow me on Instagram “@mershdoesglasgow”.

But for now, until next time, go forth and eat pie!

 

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

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