IT’S a south London thing, the love of pie, mash and liquor. As it was National Pie Week earlier this month, we went on a hunt to find some of the best pie shops the area* has to offer...
Manze’s, Deptford High Street
When I started to investigate the best pie and mash shops in south east London, at least half a dozen people I asked didn’t even have to think before recommending Manze’s.
Pie and mash is nostalgic fare and that has never been as obvious as here. The white tiled shop is rudimentary and doesn’t appear to have been redecorated in 30-odd years. In a lot of restaurants, that would be overwhelmingly off-putting but at Manze’s it’s part of the charm.
As ever, the transaction was quick with the options more or less limited to combinations of pie, mash and liquor, which were all ready to be served.
It was cheap at £3.20 for pie, mash and liquor. Justifying the recommendations, the pie was a cut above – crisp pastry and a thick pie, densely packed with full-flavoured bef. The liquor was satisfyingly gloopy and herby.
Pastry 4, Filling 5, Mash 3, Liquor 4
Price - 4
Miller's Pie and Mash, Belvedere
As many designers will tell you, simplicity is beautiful. And so it proved at this pie shop. It's super clean (it's hygiene score on the door is a maximum five) and basic with gleaming white and green tiled walls, old-fashioned bench seats and a startling simple menu, which basically says pie, mash, liquour, eels.
There are no card facilities, but for a cheap feed (£3.40 for pie, mash and liquor) do you really need them. Service from happy, pinafored staff was lightning. Maybe thirty seconds after placing my order, I was back at a table tucking in. It makes fast food look slow.
The pie was meaty with a soft pastry base and a crisp lid which looked like a stressed-wood wardrobe. The smooth mash was a little on the dry side but compensated for by the silky green liquor.
Pastry 3, Filling 4, Mash 3, Liquor 3
Cafe Pie n Mash, Hastings Road, Bromley
In a row of shops down the road from Bromley Common, this shop is unassuming from the outside but pristine, bright and airy inside with giant pictures of the Olympics, London and Routemaster buses.
I felt spoilt by the friendly table service and saarf Landaan banter from the guy in the apron. Though my pie and mash cost just £3.60, it was a little bit of a letdown. The pastry was a tad undercooked and pasta-y while the ground mince filling was sparse and overpowered by the volume of liquor. Once isolated, though, it was rich in flavour.
The liquor was a highlight; turquoise, lush and silky.
Pastry 2, Filling 2, Mash 4, Liquor 5
Square Pie, Bluewater
It was bold of Square Pie to get in touch when they found out about our quest, and I worried it was foolish when I saw they were tucked away in a food court in Bluewater. Did they really expect to compete with South London’s big guns?
Well, this is not a South London-style pie shop. Contrary to the other places we tested for this feature, you can get nine flavours of pie with an array of sides, sauces and drinks.
The counter is stylish, red and modern. The lad in a tidy apron serving me was happy and helpful, though it does all come at a premium. My one scoop of mash, Guinness and steak pie and liquor set me back £5.80.
Getting away from ground mince, the pie benefitted from the stout and also some sweet onion and carrot. It also had puff pastry on top. The slow-cooked beef fell apart.
Sadly though, the pastry was soggy and it was tricky to eat out of the square cardboard box. The liquor was full of parsley.
Pastry 3, Filling 4, Mash 4, Liquor 3
Goddard’s at Greenwich, King William Walk, Greenwich
When Goddard’s announced they were returning to the area a few years ago, the jubilation stopped just short of parties in the street.
Their pie and mash is easily the town centre's top choice for a diner on a budget (everything's under a fiver) and packs in tourists, students, workers and locals all day long. But with two floors of seating and fast, smiley service, you can always get your fill. I plumped for a steak and kidney pie with liquor - though gravy is also available.
The mash was fresh, the pie was chock full of meaty goodness and the pastry was just the right consistency beneath the sharp green liquor. Goddard’s is the daddy.
Pastry 5, Filling 5, Mash 5, Liquor, 5
We know south Londoners all have an opinion on this and a favourite of their own. Tell us your view below...
*There are some great pie and mash shops all over London, but we've stuck to five of the best in the News Shopper area of south east London and north Kent.