Happy New Year from MFP Towers. I hope you all had a smashing time bringing in the bells whether you were out partying or having a quiet one. I hope that 2018 brings you all the joy you can handle and the success that you desire. I spent the bells on the top of a hill watching Reykjavik come alive with fireworks for a genuinely jaw dropping hour or so but now I’m back and it’s time to kick 2018 off with a bang by reviewing the one pie that has ruled the high street for as long as I can remember. It’s time to rate The Greggs’ Scotch Pie.
So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!
Where: Greggs. They have over 1750 locations throughout the UK but mine was purchased on Victoria Road, Glasgow.
What’s it all about?: The largest bakery chain in the UK, Greggs is synonymous with providing you an array of pastries, sandwiches and sweet treats to go. However for every glorious Festive Bake there has been a not so glorious Chicken Katsu version has followed. But the big question is, as the UK’s favourite purveyor of pastry, how does their Scotch Pie fare?
What was on my plate: No plates at Greggs, instead it comes in a paper bag, with this particular bag still sporting the festive colours of red and white. Something which I had never considered until now was how odd it was that they never give you a napkin to capture the cascade of crumbs, grease and sugar that many of the bakers snacks cover you in. It’s actually kinda baffling.
Price: £1.15. Inflation, rising costs and a little bit of greed may have meant that the cost of a Scotch Pie at Greggs surpassed the £1 mark a long time ago but it is still a relative bargain for a hot (more on that shortly) meal.
Let’s get some eats: Now before we go into the meat of this pie matter I think it’s important to address something that is very much specific to Greggs: the temperature of your pastries. I have purchased the majority of my Greggs in the Greater Glasgow area and over the years I have learned that there are not one, not two but three different temperatures in which your pie can come in:
- Furnace Hot: This is where your pastry has gone straight from the oven and into the glass display cabinet, sometimes if you are lucky you will see this very action take place among cries of “WATCH YER BACK AGNES I’VE GOT A HOT TRAY HERE!”. Whilst there is no doubt heat can be good pie munchers beware as that first bite will strip the skin from your lips and burn a hole in your soul. No amount of blowing on it will prevent you from escaping this fate. You just have to suck it up and do your best monkey impression as you take your first few tentative bites.
- Wee Bit of Heat in it: This pastry will be a victim of one of two sets of circumstances. Either the branch of Greggs you visit is outside and the door left open, no doubt letting whatever apocalyptic weather is raging outside in to instantly cool anything that has come from the aforementioned furnace. Or scenario two, where the pastry has been sitting out for a while perhaps as a result of an overbake ahead of the lunch time rush. You will know if your pastry has a “bit of heat in it” as the person behind the counter will touch the pastry with the back of their palm and ask you this eternal poser, “It’s only got a wee heat in it, is that alright?” Even if you think it’s not you say it will be.
- Staun Cauld: When you get presented with something that you wouldn’t hesitate twice to cool yourself down with on the beach. These pastries feel like they have been taken straight from the heart of a glacier. If a pastry is “staun cauld” there’s a high chance that it’s been sitting there since time began and could be used as a blunt instrument in battle as well as providing a disappointing pastry experience.
My pie had a wee bit of heat in it, which for me is the best for speedy consumption. The first thing I noticed about my pie was the heavy dusting of raw flour on top of the pastry lid which itself had been subjected to some boil out from the meaty contents below adding a darkly shaded puddle to the floury snowfall.
The next thing that became apparent was that the pie was overbaked, or to use regional parlance: well fired, particularly on the bottom and on the edges. Whilst this wasn’t blackened it did make for a super crispy and somewhat difficult bite. As I took my first chomp, dabbed with the traditional squirt of brown sauce, I looked forward in anticipation to the taste sensation from one of the UK’s biggest selling pies. The crescendo of expectation soon turned into instant disappointment as this was perhaps one of the most one note pastries I ever did try. No notes of sweet or savoury. No pepper kick to warm the cockles and tickle the taste buds just a fairly banal but perfectly edible block of meat (beef and mutton, although I’m not sure you’d know). To be honest I suspected as much, this after all is one of the most mass produced pies on the market, but it was still disappointing not to have a single flavour peak or trough to pass comment on.
For £1.15 it’s hard to grumble too much but really this should be better.
- Easily available
- I got my favoured temperature profile
- Just a bit dull
So a Greggs’ Scotch Pie, not the culinary delight my heart would desire but it won’t be going anywhere any time soon so if you’re in a bind you could do a lot worse than a pie. But then, I like pies. Anyway, next up is a return to the football field and a review of the Queens Park Cheese & Onion Pie.
However, until then, 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.