|Beggar Boy with a piece of pie by Giacomo Peroti|
I do like a good pie. Somehow it seems very English.
So what could be better than a restaurant that specialises in serving pies? Let's head for Pieminister in Waterloo Street to find out. Fleetingly I think of Sweeney Todd and Bellowhead's song 'Black beetle pies' but such unpleasant fancies soon flee away as I arrive at the restaurant which specialises in minimalist decor and seems to attract far more male customers than females.
Not much in the way of starters, somehow olives don't seem appropriate. And so straight to the main course - a chicken and ham pie on a bed of mash with accompanying mushy peas. I might have liked simple chips with my pie and peas, not modern chips with the skin on, but classic beautifully cooked chips, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, but such was not available. But let's be honest, how can you better classic pie and mash? And the pie was fine. The classic chicken and tarragon combination with just the right amount of tarragon so that the powerful herb enhanced the flavour without killing it straight dead. The mash too was fine - proper mash not some near-liquid purée with all the body squeezed out of it - and the peas were admirable, perfectly minted, I wondered if there was a hint of vinegar which would have been spot on.
I had a vanilla milkshake with the meal which served as an accompanying drink and a pudding. The milkshake was inadequate in size and overpriced but I guess Pieminister has to make its profit somewhere or the other.
The service was excellent and all in all the experience quite pleasurable and if it survives I will be happy to lunch at Pieminister again.
Pieminister had begun as a business for 12 years prior to its opening in Birmingham and had been started in Bristol with other branches in Exeter, Nottingham, and Leeds. It's pleasing to have a chain of restaurants that specialise in food with a distinctly British character rather than yet another tedious burger joint but the restaurant could have looked more British. And going out to eat should have a little bit of excitement to it but there is really no thrill to going to Pieminister. Perhaps things could be made to be a little less routine by having special pies of the day to add an air of immediacy to the menu.
Nevertheless, a visit to Pieminister is a perfectly satisfactory experience. You could say, "The pies have it, the pies have it".