Those three days between the end of the World Cup and the start of my football season were some of the most challenging of my life. Yes, it was almost certainly the best tournament I had lived through but nothing ever really beats being at an actual game. I was excited to start at a new ground in Bo’ness and of course with a new pie review as I followed my team Pollok east for some friendly action. Imagine then my disappointment as I scanned the terraces of Newtown Park to see that my post work dash to West Lothian was not going to be rewarded with a meat filled pastry dinner. I really hoped this wasn’t going to be a sign of things to come.
Fast forward to the following Saturday and a message exchange with my Kilmarnock supporting mate from uni saw me off to Dumbarton. Going “undercover” as an away fan is always a unique experience, the fans tend to be that little bit more boisterous, fuelled by a travel beer or two, the characters slightly more eclectic and the whole day just that little bit more enjoyable than taking seat with some of the home team regulars.
Despite the pies selling out at half time due to the volume of travelling fans I had snagged a pie just past the half hour mark, and with it securely wrapped inside my paw I welcome you to Season 6 of Meat Filled Pastries with Pie 138: The Dumbarton Steak & Gravy Pie.
Without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: The C&G Systems Stadium, Dumbarton 2-4 KIlmarnock, Betfred Cup Group Stage
Price: As it was the first pie of a new season I thought I would treat myself to a little bit of luxury but at a whopping £2.60 – a full 70p more than a scotch pie – I was slightly aghast. Now maybe it’s because this was the first game of the season but when I looked up at the price board an audible “whit!” could be heard coming out my mouth. Remember this is Scottish League One fayre, not Ibrox or Parkhead. I was quite taken aback.
Presentation: A common presentation style for a steak based pie of a tinfoil case and medium-sized white napkin although the mis-shapen nature of the case (more pear shaped than round) should have hinted about the taste experience that was about to follow.
Meatiness: The meat content of this pie was dispersed in some what of a higgledy piggledy manner meaning that at one side you were biting into some pastry lightly tickled by gravy whilst at the other there was a wealth of meaty treasure to be found. Various sized chunks of meat wrapped in a well seasoned if not particularly mind-blowing gravy. The meat was cooked well but didn’t leave you yearning for more nor wishing you’d never took a bite. It was just there.
Pastry: The pastry was on the surface fine. A nice golden tinge to the edges although the top was perhaps looking a little under-baked. The side walls had cracked quite a bit leaving its structural integrity in question but all in all it was holding and seemed passable without being in any danger of making it on “the best pies I have eaten” list. Then I took a bite. A bite of raw, sticking to the tinfoil bottom layer of something that was…well it was awful. Claggy to the bite and with the ability to roll it up in a ball between my fingers. By the time I had finished my pie I needed more than a few slurps of fizzy pop to wash my mouth clean and seperate the paste from my teeth. Poor.
Brown Sauce: Just a reminder that luxury pies require no brown sauce although in this instance it may have helped with the pastry.
Gravy Factor: We were on our way to an OK steak and gravy pie, with a golden if under-baked top and a decent filling however that base. That mush of paste masquerading as pastry was the definition of, no nice.
Overall: Not a fan.
Well I hope that’s not the season standard going forward. Luckily we have an early shot at redemption as I headed to Fife to take in a pre-season friendly between Kelty Hearts and Brora Rangers and of course scran a pie. I’ll keep you posted if anything interesting happens along the way, however, until next time go forth and eat pie.
Just maybe not this one.
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’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.