Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Alma... again!

I don't like loose ends... so, here we are again at The Alma, Laneshawbridge but this time I'm after the Steak & Kidney Pudding with their special herb recipe suet pastry, which is priced at a whopping £10.95!!!
As you can see it looks OK, if a little undercooked but I guess that is to be expected as its been steamed?
Its on the menu with exactly the same accompaniments as the plate pie so not much to talk about there.

The pudding itself is not dissimilar to a chip shop pud but its twice the size with some decent chunks of meat and kidney too.
On a personal level, I would have cooked the pudding a little while longer, as I don't like it when its soggy and difficult to distinguish whether its raw suet or not.
So, we come to a final score for this home made Suet Pudding at £10.95.
Its OK as far as steak pudding chips and gravy goes and that's it. I don't think the surroundings, good service and an average partner to chips and peas warrants such a high price. It gets an overall score of 6.4 on the pie chart.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Alma, Laneshawbridge nr Colne.

Been here before and had the Steak & Kidney Pudding but a revision of that experience will have to wait for another day. As I'm partial to a short crust top, I decided on the Beef & Onion Plate Pie with Chunky Chips, Mushy Peas and Pickled Red Cabbage for £9.95, apparently made from minced fillet steak.
The whole dish had a homemade quality about it and everything was full of flavour, reminiscent of juvenile chippy experiences.
The pie itself was very good both in quality and ratio of pastry to filling but I prefer it with more onions and is purely a personal preference based on my mums Beef & Onion pie from years ago... probably why I have to carry 15 stone around these days.

There is plenty of meat but very little onion to be found. The peas hadn't lost any of their flavour and went well with the pickled red cabbage and the gravy was definitely chip shop style... without the lumps.
The Alma has recently been completely refurbished into a posh gastro pub and the service is as expected for such an establishment, pleasant, clean and very efficient with brilliant views of Boulsworth Moor from the conservatory.
Overall a good experience with tasty food in a clean and tidy environment with pleasant staff.
Arguably not a full Steak Pie experience and no real surprises but still a good slice of pie in relaxing surroundings and well worth a 6.7 on the pie chart.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Snooty Fox needs a little grooming

Had a scout around Kirkby Lonsdale for a pub with a decent pie on the menu and found The Snooty Fox.
Once I got used to the flies hovering in the olde worlde tavern, I ordered the Steak & Kidney Pie with Chips and Mushy Peas (I did enquire about potato options and 'it comes with real chips & peas' was the reply).
They were right about the chips though, they are 'real' and delicious too, which is a real shame because the pie was onto something but wasn't as fresh as the chips.
There was a good filling to pastry ratio but the quality of the pastry and the filling didn't match the chips.
The pastry was rather salty and tough to cut through around the edges and there was way too much gravy (another of my consumer choices taken away from me).
The kidneys were dry and a touch bitter and whilst the pie did appear homemade it was perhaps spoiled by over enthusiastic reheating, losing a lot of its freshness and flavour.
The staff were pleasant and busy cleaning tables even though no-one had been using some of them but my table was sticky, hence the attraction of the bluebottles.
The combination of pie, chips, peas and gravy is a winner for me and is indeed reminiscent of home cooked winter grub or walking home from a night out eating alfresco.
However, a good Steak Pie Experience is about quality as well as design and so it goes... The Snooty Fox scores a 5.5
but taking into account that people do have off days, I think on a good day it could easily be a 6

Thursday, 19 August 2010

2 Beef or Not 2 Beef... That is the question!

Alas poor pie man, I knew not what I was letting myself in for... honest!
Upon wandering through Stratford-Upon-Avon, I noticed The Garrick Inn, the oldest pub in town and considering that there are some pretty old pubs in this town, I assumed it would be an interesting steak pie experience with their 'British Beef & Ruddles Ale Pie' on the menu.

It was busy and a little cramped, with the back of my chair touching the back of another one. Still, I had candlelight and extra gravy to cheer me up.
It is served with either chips or mash and is one half portion of a plate pie, a decent size.
The pastry was short crust and very thick, in fact too thick and very dry around the edges and didn't look, feel or taste home-made.
On comparing the thickness of the pastry with the depth of the pie filling, the ratio seemed out of balance which leads to the question of what is the ideal ratio of pastry to filling?
My preference would always be heavy on the filling side and this pie (being a plate pie) was too thin on the filling with only a few chunks of beef and too much gravy inside... not very exciting at all.
The mash was tastier than the pie and I left the crust, too thick, hard and dry for me.
It was the overall imbalance of the filling to pastry ratio and also the quality of both the filling and the pastry which gives this £8.45 steak pie experience a 4.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Calfs Head at Worston, near Clitheroe

Wasn't out looking for pie today (honest) but it was on the extensive menu at the Calfs Head at Worston, near Clitheroe. If you want no-nonsense, quick service and nice outdoor gardens for the kids to play in then this is the place for you.
As for the Steak Pie Experience... thats not bad either.

It comes with a choice of potatoes, carrots, peas and the pie (steak & mushroom) served in a very hot dish with a puff pastry lid.

Perhaps this is a good time to tell you about certain personal preferences when it comes to pie pastry.
One of my pet hates on pies is puff pastry, so my visit didn't get off to a good start. Don't get me wrong, I can eat it but I do find it more of a nusiance than an enhancement on pies. To me, it seems more of a paper decoration than a functional container made to hold the treasure inside a good pie.
I can't remember where or when my dissapointment of puff pastry began... perhaps it is the deception of it trying to appear like a pie itself, only to discover that its full of nothing but fresh air. The only puff pastry that works for me is the one found on Fray Bentos pies. Yes, even they are good for something and when all other steak pies cannot be found and youre skint and need a fix, they are highly recommended.
But I digress...back to the matter in hand... Steak & Mushroom pie at the Calfs Head.
Apart from the puff pastry its not actually a bad pie for under £9.
Good size chunks of decent steak and plenty of gravy but only the odd mushroom.
Like I said earlier, the surroundings are good with seating in a large conservatory to watch the kids while you have a pie or two, it can be a little crowded at weekends though.

For a no nonsense pie experience in a nice country pub, then its great. As for the pie, its very good but only gets 7 for the total 'Steak Pie' experience.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Mr Fred's Bar & Lounge, Mellor, Lancs.

After spotting an advert for a 'Peppered Steak & Mushroom Pie' at Fred's Bar at Stanley House Hotel in Mellor (BB2 7NP), near Blackburn, I couldn't resist the challenge.
The location is stunning, mixing old and new styles of decor with some good views of the gardens.

Service was excellent and as you can see, the dish looked inviting with a decent portion of pie in its own dish.

Served with real chunky chips and green beans, it is a very tasty pie and one that anyone could manage comfortably with room for dessert.

If you like peppered steak then youre in for a treat, the flavour is outstanding, lovely chunks of meat, mushrooms and plenty of gravy under a nice thin crust.
This is a very nice pie indeed and is worthy of being up there with the best in terms of flavour, presentation, service and the luxurious surroundings.
Perhaps there is room for a little more Steak and Mushroom in the individual pie dish, which is the only reason I'm not giving it a better mark of 8.5
Another brilliant pie experience!