Pies are great. Every British person knows this – from the humble chippy tea Pukka to the high-end beef wellington, there is a pie for every occasion so it may be a surprise to hear that we have only just got round to visiting Pieminister on Angel Row a good 18 months after opening. The things that held us back were the assumption of a lack of healthy options for Emily and the fact no-one really fancies gravy when it’s summer. Pieminster has long been a festival staple for us, which we have had in a field many times and loved, but in a crowded market it struggles to stand up against the other eateries that Nottingham has to offer – there’s just always something else we’d rather have.
However, this particular Saturday lunchtime we were at a loss for anywhere else to eat so ended up at the restaurant on Angel Row, a pie felt comforting and easy for Emily’s raging hangover. Inside, it felt more like a bar than a restaurant, with black walls and neon signage and we grabbed a table near the window to check out the menu. We were surprised to find that they do actually offer a healthy pie alternative in the form of a skillet, that gives you the pie fillings without the unhealthy pie crust – a nice touch (which we ignored and went straight for the pies).
You can order your pie with various ‘levels’ of side orders depending on your appetite, from the basic Classic Meal to the intimidating Tower of Power (two pies!) I opted for the Moo and Blue Mothership option, which is a steak and stilton pie, served with mash, gravy, chilli peas, crispy shallots and a cheese topping. On the menu it offers minty mushy peas, but I don’t really like them (sorry Nottinghamites) so the server agreed to a chilli pea trade. Emily meanwhile went for the Free Ranger chicken and ham pie as a Mothership but kept the mushy peas. The Mothership comfortable middleweight option that offers more flourishes than a basic pie and mash but isn’t food challenge worthy, like The Tower of Power top end.
Long with some very reasonably priced £5 Bloody Marys, The food arrived very quickly with the extra Mothership options piled up on top of the pie and mash with a large boat of gravy on the side. I drowned mine in the beefy stock and got stuck in.
The first thing that I noticed was the meatiness of the gravy was really tasty and in fact was so plentiful that it started to turn my pie and its toppings into mushy pie soup. Now, I’m a big believer in gravy with pie (in fact I understand that it is served by law in some areas in the north), but I soon regretted pouring the whole contents of the jug onto my plate at once. The flavours within were coming out, but the crispness of the shallots and the flavour of the mash were lost in the deluge. I could detect the tangy blue cheese flavour, and the large chunks of beef were lovely. The kick from the chilli peas was also really nice but it was an awful lot of the same texture.
Emily enjoyed her Free Ranger pie.
She had a chicken gravy to match her selection which didn’t pack the meaty flavour punch that mine did. The mash was sadly a bit gluey and the mushy peas didn’t help with the lack of contrasting textures issue, turning a bit to baby food. The crust was buttery but lost its crunch with the gravy and mash and it was all a little bland – the cheese and shallots helped with this but it just needed more flavour. Ok, and good if you’re in the mood for a pie, but it didn’t blow us away at all. So, overall the pies were pies and ok – we would go again if we were in the mood, maybe on a blustery winter day when only comfort food will do, but would be sure to keep a tempered hand on the gravy jug. The service was good if a little over the top, we had bloody Mary’s to drink but they had far too much lemon. As previously discovered, Pieminister makes for amazing festival food where the only other option for the weekend is a kebab or burger, but in a city with such amazing places to eat, I don’t know if we could whole-heartedly recommend it. If we want the best pie ever, we’re heading the The Black Bull at Blidworth before we would come to Pieminister (seriously do this. The pie is insane, read about it here!)
Atmosphere and surroundings: 6/10
Emily and Stu