Just some thoughts & ideas...
As I visit a wide selection of pubs, I naturally see different ideas, opinions and serving suggestions... so I thought I'd share some of them with you.
I was in a pub in Hertfordshire with a publican/chef who wanted to increase the margin of his pies. He contacted me because he wanted to lift the quality level of the pies (nice compliment) and move away from a cheap and nasty product the previous landlord offered. He however needed to lift the expectation of the customer to justify a fairly hefty price increase from £9.95 to £13.50.
This guy was brilliant... although I guess its not rocket science (salad joke), he set about adding value to his offer.
He offered 3 different types of mashed potato: -
Creamy Mash, Garlic Mash & Whole Grain Mustard Mash at very little, if any extra cost.
He offered 3 different types of gravy, all served in a separate jug: -
Red Wine Gravy, Apple Cider Gravy, Adnams Ale Gravy... he even offered one with a hint of chocolate...blimey!
Also he had side dish offers including Mushy Peas, and also a very "gut filling" offer on Main Course Pie and Dessert Pie & Custard... at extra cost of course. A "Right Pie Blow Out!
The point I guess is to add value at very little cost to yourself.
He's not a massive pub but buys 4 boxes a week (48 pies).
Not bad... nice one Tony!
Does just a pastry lid, count as a pie?
It’s time to settle the debate.
Is putting a pastry lid on a casserole/stew enough to make it a pie or does the filling need to be entirely encased in pastry? And if that’s true where does that leave the Shepherd’s Pie or the Cottage Pie argument??
All good questions: -
In my view…. a pie has to be encased in pastry, but there are always trouble makers!
Who Ate All The Pies?
The point is, more and more pubs are now putting on more and more pies, but they are also becoming more and more discerning.
Gone are the days of your average chip shop pie on the pub menu, that thing that is kept warm for days and harbours a layer of inedible meat, with a layer of nothing and topped off with a lid of fatty puff pastry.
Publicans and chefs want something outstanding… that stands high on the plate, is full of beautiful British meat and tastes fabulous…. and all at a workable price.
Pubs are getting good money for the humble pie, gone are the days when we couldn’t venture over £10, these days £12 to £14 is common place…even more sometimes.
Table mat menus.
Some years ago a customer of mine used to own a pub in Ware and his sole food offer was pies... there are few pubs like this and the do really well.
His idea was to give each seated customer a table mat which served as his menu... it could also be discarded after the meal.
All his pie fillings were listed, his different types of gravy and mash and offered all this at an "All Inclusive Price" There was also a choice of fruit pies at extra cost.
Just a thought.... I've put a rather bad copy of this below.
They Tick All The Boxes.
I recently dropped off some Deep Fill Pub Pie samples at a pub I've been after for ages.
Normally I would cook them and let the Chef or Owner give them a try. But in this case they were "having none of that". "Leave 'em with us and we'll let you know" a horrible concept to an ageing salesman!!
The Pub Pies were tested against a forceful competitor on Taste, Meat Quality, Meat Quantity, Size of Meat Pieces, Pastry and Overall Appearance....oh, and Price!!
WE WON ON All COUNTS!!!
Whenever I'm asked about the cooking of The Deep Fill Pub Pies I always always say that you can't cook them from frozen!!!
Well you can!!!
I delivered to one of my newest pubs this week and just asked the general question "how do you cook the pies". A perfectly innocent question when really I know the answer. BUT.... Kevin, the landlord said, "oh, we just take the frozen pie out of the foil and place into a ceramic dish, the rough size of the pie, and microwave until the centre is about 50c degrees and finish off in a hot oven."
I thought this would surely kill the pastry but NO!!. Ok, they serve in the dish to make into a good old "Pot Pie" but it's absolutely fine.
Ha! ...well blow me down!
So well done Deberah & Kevin at The Baker Arms. Bayford.
Who eats all the pies?
Question? Who eats more pies, the gentlemen or the ladies?
Answer… probably men, but there’s not a lot in it.
I’ve been putting this website together for what seems like an age and over that time I’ve asked loads of questions to publicans about their customers likes and dislikes…their “turn on’s and their turn off’s etc:
One thing that has surprised me is the amount of women who say that they love a good pie.
Ladies tend to go for the lighter fillings like Chicken, Leek & Ham but as soon as you draw that conclusion a member of the fairer sex will come a long and go for Steak & Ale or a Venison Bourguignon.
Golden rule…..cater for everyone…. men, women, children, vegetarian, celiacs and vegans.
Down Under Pies
Your average Aussie is a hardened serious Pie eater. “let’s have a beer and a pie” are words often heard after a day’s work it seems.
In fact, the Australians have roadside cafes where a pie is the only thing on the menu…..racks of different flavours and a range of fruit pies to follow, even the Pie Drive Though.
Could this be the start of the McPie?
And there’s one delicacy that’s quintessentially Australian …..
The Pie Floater!
A pie with a pile of mash crowning the top and gallons of gravy…..and a beer of course.
Some will serve this explosion of flavour upside down... well it is Australia!
Oh!... and your discerning Aussie believes that the hole often found in the top of the pie to let the steam out is in fact there to squirt ketchup in to!!!
Traditional London Pies
London's pie and mash shops and pubs have long served since the 19th century, a traditional pie made with a suet bottom layer filled with minced beef or mutton and topped with a crust of short or puff pastry……to make a pie envelope!
This rather flat pie was then served with liquor, a parsley sauce made with the broth of stewed eels and a splash of vinegar. Although the vinegar sounds odd and conjures up a “yuk” it really adds to the experience….you should try it.
Thing is….is there a market in pubs for this old London fayre?
Pounds For Pies
Pubs push through the £10 price barrier with good quality pies and its happening everywhere. Gone are the days when publicans feared charging too much, there are many pubs out there charging £12-£14 easily…. and many more than that.
As long as the pie is good…push the boundaries.