I do love a good pie. Whether it’s of the puff pastry variety or the old fashioned suet crust ilk, there’s just something about the thought of a buttery crust yielding into soft, meaty chunks of savoury comfort that drives me to distraction. Especially when it’s a bit parky outdoors.
Recently I’ve found myself haunted by Food Stories’ towering beauty, it seems to greet me at every turn. There I am, trotting along on the way to work or to meet pals and it’s there shining down at me like an old friend. As a result I’ve had full on pie-pangs on repeat in my pastry-addled mind like an unshakeably good tune. You know, the sort you’re afraid to listen to too many times in case you get sick of, but you can’t really help yourself.
So it was that when I found myself ensconced in the mahogany lined warmth of The Albemarle I barely registered the well heeled mixture of suits and glamorous types in the know. I was pretty much oblivious to the neon Tracy Emin flashing at me from above the huge fireplace. And I hardly even noticed the great British classics like hay-baked leg of Corwen lamb or Cumbrian Black pudding with split peas on the lovingly crafted menu. I just zoned straight in on the pastried meat.
In an attempt to display some semblance of self control I ordered a plate of oysters to begin with, my other weakness. In my mind these were a quick preamble, just to build up to the main act as it were. It’s hard to go wrong with oysters, especially when they’re Maldon Natives – these were soppingly fresh and all adrip with ozone and zinc. My dining partner went for Cornish shellfish soup with Julian Temperley’s cider brandy, which was very good, although the brandy was virtually undetectable.
Executive chef Lee Streeton already has 3 AA Rosettes to his name and it’s not hard to see why. His steak and kidney pudding was the stuff of my dreams. Melting beefy hunks, contrasted with the firm bite of kidney in a slick of hot meaty gravy the whole thing clad in a slumberdown of proper lardy suet and then slathered with more of that gravy – if ever there was a pie to satiate my inner Desperate Dan this was it. The double cooked chips they came with were fine, if a little on the cold side, but I didn’t really care, that pie was the business.
Finally to finish we shared an enormous apple crumble with vanilla rich custard and cream. We rolled out of there scarfed out beyond comprehension, and sated into a stupor, my pie craving very much satisfied.
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