“You can’t get them south of Birmingham. There’s a warning for any readers who might be thinking of going south. Take your own meat and potato pies.”
Savoury or sweet, hot or cold, the pie is a British institution. The average Brit eats a whopping 2,160 pies over their adult lifetime, according to a recent study – that’s 36 a year. It’s around £1 billion worth.
And we take pies seriously. In 2015, a petition was started to make it a criminal offence to describe a casserole with a pastry lid as a pie. It gained nearly 6,000 signatures.
To celebrate British Pie Week (7th – 13th March 2022), here are some of the city’s best.
Classic fillings at Great North Pie Co
Launched by former Manchester policeman Neil Broomfield, Great North Pie Company has received numerous national accolades including the Supreme Champion of the British Pie Awards.
“I think the pastry – butter is always best for me, and I prefer it really thin and crisp so its not too heavy,” says Neil about what makes the perfect pie.
“Fillings-wise, just keep it simple. When we started we used to play about with different fillings and try and do something different, now we’re a lot more traditional. You can’t beat the classics.”
News that a city centre pie and mash cafe is on the way is most welcome.
In the meantime, find Great North Pie Co pies at Altrincham Market and selected farmers markets. They’re also available for delivery, in boxes of four or eight (£17 – £32), to heat at home.
Daily specials at The Black Friar pub
The new menu includes gourmet game creations such as duck and orange, classic fish pies, and modern twists like chicken nduja and lamb tagine.
Each is cased in the trademark fresh, flaky pastry (as praised by Jay) and served with sides of mash, gravy and more.
The daily pies are £10 during the week, before 6.30pm – the perfect winter lunch plate.
Nalli nihari biryani pie at Dishoom
Dishoom, based in Manchester Hall, the 1920s Grade II listed building originally used as a Freemasons’ Hall, pays loving homage to the old Irani cafés of Bombay.
There’s a special dish just for Manchester – and it’s a sort of pie: a decadent nalli nihari biryani (£18.90). A tender shank of slow-cooked lamb is layered with rice and caramelised onions then sealed beneath a pastry blanket, served with a rich spicy gravy and enriched with chicken liver raita on the side.
It may not be entirely enclosed in pastry, but it’s a spectacle of a dish, with a shank bone sticking out of the top. Lift the bone out through the crisp pastry and the heady aroma of the filling hits the senses. The gravy packs a punch, too.
Pie and a pint at Edinburgh Castle
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The Edinburgh Castle in Ancoats is all about good pub food.
The seasonal menu includes a homemade pie of the week (around £12) – think classic cheese and onion pie with spring onion mash.
You’ll also often find a Wellington – not a pie, but a treat for pastry lovers.
Steak pudding at Sam’s Chop House
Sam’s Chop House is back – and with it, a classic steak and kidney pudding and gravy (£16.50).
There’s also a vegan-friendly hen of the woods mushroom pithivier (£14) – a a round, enclosed pie – served with vegan turnip gratin and port gravy.
Perfect pork pies at Mettrick’s
At the British Pie Awards 2019 in Melton Mowbray, Glossop butchers Mettrick’s beat all the competition to be crowned the makers of the best pork pie in the country.
The secret recipe includes their own free range pork, which is specially selected with their own seasonings, and a traditional hot water paste for the pastry.
You can find the award-winning pies in their Glossop shop, or they deliver locally.
Vegan and gluten-free pies at Pie & Ale
The pies at this Lever Street favourite are handcrafted on-site, and there’s something for everyone including meat, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Meat eaters will love the jerk BBQ oxtail pie (£11.95) which combines oxtail in a spicy rich sauce with celery, onion and garlic, while vegans can go for a beetroot and dahl pie with fragrant spices (£9.95).
On Sundays, there’s even a Sunday roast pie topped with a Yorkshire pudding (£10.95).
Michelin standard pies at The Pack Horse Hayfield
Just a few miles from Manchester, muddy boots – and indeed muddy paws – are welcome at the Pack Horse. And the food is exceptional.
There’s often a pie on the regularly changing seasonal menu, and they’re well worth checking out.
Pies in the post from Lord of the Pies
These are the sort of pies your body craves on winter days – and now you can get the Macclesfield favourites delivered nationwide (£28 for six).
Look out for fillings such as British beef and stout, confit pork and Bury black pudding, or pulled chicken balti.
Veggie options include sweet potato, spinach and goats cheese, while a vegan pie has a superfood stew filling packed with edamame beans and kale.