From Kensington to Kennington, Lewisham to Leytonstone, Time Out has visited London’s remaining traditional pie and mash shops. These are some of the city’s best suppliers of the original British fast food, so grab a table and get stuck into pie, liquor, mash and even eels.
The best pie and mash shops in London
Previously ‘Traditional Pie & Mash’, this Chrisp Street Market site was taken over a few years ago but continues to act as one of the area’s key pie shops (the other is Maureen’s, just around the corner). The pies are filled with a satisfactory amount of gravy and the mince is fine, though the pastry is overly thick. Generous sized ice-cream scoops of mash are creamy but the green parsley liquor is bland without copious lashings of vinegar and heavy-handed seasoning at the formica-clad table.
£3.30 for pie, mash and liquor.
Opened by George Kelly, the Kelly’s at the station end of Bethnal Green Road is one of two from the same family. Portraits of local boxing heroes adorn the walls and join white tiles, marble table tops and temporary decorations be it for Easter, Halloween or Christmas. As for the food, the pie is fine though the coarse minced beef would benefit from a little more gravy. The liquor, on the other hand, resembles nuclear waste – overly thick and was cold on more than one visit.
£3.20 for pie, mash and liquor.
Offering exceptional value for money, Noted Eel & Pie House in Leytonstone charges less than £3 for a reasonable helping of pie, mash and liquor. The mash is incredibly smooth and, although small, the pies boast excellent thin pastry yet have a filling that’s perhaps unnecessarily salty. The liquor is tasty enough, yet it carries an undesirably thick mucus consistency that will coat the roof of your mouth until dinnertime.
£2.70 for pie, mash and liquor.
First opened in 1952, the site of Greenwich’s pie and mash shop was bought out by Gourmet Burger Kitchen around ten years ago. Yet after a few years conquering the wholesale market, a shiny new shop opened in 2012 and Goddards is once again one of London’s most popular pie shops, often filled with tourists. The mash and liquor are practically perfect, though the pies are generally dry with a pastry base that’s too dense. There’s also a huge range of fillings including steak and ale and lamb and rosemary, now devastatingly more popular than traditional minced beef.
£4.80 for pie, mash and liquor with a cup of tea.
Just around the corner from the Elephant & Castle, Arment’s has been operating for over 100 years, but is sadly let down by inconsistency. On a good day, the pies are remarkable with flaky pastry lids and a minced beef filling with plenty of gravy and no trace of gristle. Yet at other times the meat is pallid, chewy and generally unappetising, making the smooth mash, generally brilliant liquor and signature chilli vinegar almost fall into insignificance.
£3.55 for pie, mash and liquor.
Directly opposite the branch of Manze’s on Deptford High Street with its unreliable opening hours, A. J. Goddard is the original shop from the owners of the more popular pie shop in Greenwich, opened in the late 1800s. The mash and liquor are fine, and although the pie filling is less succulent than at the Greenwich shop, the pastry is less dry and there’s not a gimmick in site. What’s more, the prices are also more reasonable than the Greenwich outpost, less than a mile down the road.
£3.30 for pie, mash and liquor.
Manze is a name synonymous with traditional pie and mash, with Italian immigrant Michele Manze having opened his first pie shop in Borough. This branch in Islington’s Chapel Market, however, isn’t operated by the same owners but has been open since the early 1900s. Warm mash is scraped onto the side of mismatched plates, though it’s hard and crumbles like potato gravel. The liquor is bland yet inoffensive, but the pies with their flaky pastry lids and beef and onion filling are among the city’s absolute best.
£4.85 for pie, mash and liquor.
Connected only by genealogy to the G Kelly in Bethnal Green, the remaining Roman Road shop (there were two until 2009) is one of the only traditional pie shops to open every day of the week. Entering through an exceptionally narrow door, the pie house is usually busy on the weekend (particularly on West Ham match days) and has some of the East End’s most traditional decor. The pies are filled to the brim with minced beef in a rich gravy and have a thankfully buttery pastry crust and suet base.
£3.50 for pie, mash and liquor.
Towards the Canning Town end of Barking Road, close to West Ham’s old Boleyn Ground, BJ’s is one of the smallest pie shops on the list. Served with some classic Cockney banter from a counter that’s peculiarly placed at the back of the shop, the pies are almost burnt (as is popular), filled with beef and rich gravy and served with well-seasoned liquor and creamy mash. BJ’s also serves some of the most reasonably priced stewed eels and controversially offers chips as an alternative to mash.
£4.55 for pie, mash and liquor.
At the north end of Portobello Road near Erno Goldfinger’s infamous Trellick Tower, Cockney’s is a rare west London pie shop. A relatively new kid on the block, Cockney’s opened at the end of the twentieth century, yet the food is very authentic. Slopped into heavy white china bowls, the pie has a suet bottom and a buttery crust, while the bowl prevents the outrageous helping of thick liquor from spilling onto the table. The perfect place to fill up before a leisurely stroll along the Saturday street market.
£3.40 for pie, mash and liquor.
Discover London's traditional caffs
Ah, the greasy spoon. These traditional cafés are where formica tables, full English breakfasts and milky, milky tea rule supreme. These mostly family-run joints offer a welcome warmer than the toast and well faded 'celebrity' photos on the walls, and we love them for it. But, alas, they're a dying breed in London these days, so we've decided to celebrate the ten finest caffs in the capital. Long live the greasy spoon!