It’s national pie week at the moment, and given the weather it couldn’t have come at a better time, a nice hot pie is just the thing to warm up with.
You might not think it but London is a pie lovers paradise, with everyone from the local chippy or East End pie and mash shop to the best West End restaurants serving the things up to their customers. You’ll find everything from mince and gravy through to the best quality steak and kidney pie and grouse and foie gras pie.
The undoubted king of London pies is Chef Calum Franklin at the Holborn Dining Room with its pie room (and a fantastic gin room with the largest choice of tonics and gins in London). Just a glace at both his and the restaurants Instagram pages will leave you in no doubt of this.
To celebrate national pie week, this Tuesday saw Calum Franklin collaborate with the team at Sparrow in Lewisham, a not long open restaurant that has been taking dinners by storm. Together they created a three-course menu of pies with 50% of the proceeds from the £35 set menu going to the Bloom Bakery, a local social enterprise.
After the opening gambit of an apple pie gin tipple, the starter of trotter and leek pie with coolea sauce arrived. The creation of the Sparrow team it was visually stunning, looking more like a vol-au-vent with a lid. The pastry was beautifully buttery and flaky. There is no other way to describe the filling of pig trotter and leek than to say it was a wet mix of meat and leek, perfectly seasoned, packed with flavour, and enough to warm the cockles of your heart with the pleasure it provided. I could have eaten countless more of them.
The main, the brain child of Calum Franklin, was a mutton pie with morels and wild garlic, accompanied by a forgotten carrot, berkswell green beans and a small jug of rich sticky jus to pour on. My fiancé, being allergic to tomatoes, couldn’t have the jus, so they whipped up a parsley sauce. When broken open, the golden pastry revealed large hunks of perfectly cooked gamey mutton, wonderful mushroom and large strips of wild garlic.
The jus added an extra depth, but the parsley sauce was the sort of sauce one would kill for; a thick, vibrant, deep green sauce that was nothing more than blitzed parsley and a hint of mint with no added liquid. It added a whole new dimension to the pie, taking its earthy richness and adding light zingy herb packed freshness. Once again it was a time when my fiancé’s allergies meant that inadvertently he ended up with a better version of a dish (the same happened at The Sportsman).
It would be remise not to mention the green beans. They acted to cut through the richness of the pie. Mixed in Parmesan and vinaigrette, they were perfectly al dente, indeed a more perfect example of how a green bean should be cooked can’t be found.
The dessert saw a return to the creations of Sparrow with a black sesame, banana, and passion fruit ice-cream pie topped with inch thick Italian meringue. It would be fair to say that the savoury sweet nature of the back sesame is a flavour that you will either take to or not, and I lean more to the not. That said when you got the passion fruit ice cream with it, it made for a creative take on the traditional meringue pie.
While this was a one off event, it was one that reflected the food styles of both collaborators, both Sparrow and Holborn Dining Room couldn’t be more highly recommended for their usual menus.