Muffin Man Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-01-27T11:20:47+00:00January 27th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, Uncategorised, Wigan|Tags: , , , |

This was the second pie I reviewed in Life of Pies, and being within a mile or so from my house, it is a pie that I have sampled many times before and since. At the time, I was operating incognito, with not even my good lady wife aware of my plan to eat hundreds of pies, therefore the need for discretion was paramount.

Let me put this out there: Muffin Man make great pies. However, being based in Wigan means that they are situated in one of the most cut throat pie markets that there is. Maybe I was a little bit harsh at the time, but they are certainly a good match for a Galloways or a Bowens on their day.

The Muffin Man Meat and Potato Pie

It’s highly probable that blood has been spilled over the debate as to who makes the best pies in Wigan. Or pie gravy at least. This is why the question needs answering. Not a week goes by without some 500 reply thread on Facebook over whose pies are best in some of the more feverish Wigan Facebook groups. There is real passion and dare I say anger over this at times, like when Italians get talking about football.

There are people who swear by the Muffin Man. Plus it’s in my village so giving it a shit review will see me ostracised by my local community and earn me the nickname “that pie wanker”.

Going to keep it simple and local for now. First, lay the trap:

“Right darling, going getting my hair cut, then I’m getting some petrol. Fancy a pie for dinner?”

It needs to be a local one given we’re going out for the afternoon and I’m still operating incognito but there are some big hitters within the confines of WN6. I don’t want to crown a king in the first few pages but I envisage at least one or two Champions League places for Wigan pie shops when judgement day arrives.

The beauty of this land of ours is that you can be anywhere in the country by lunch time if you get up early enough but, just for today, my local pie shop will have to do.

When I was a kid growing up in the Springfield area of Wigan, there were at least four pie shops within a few hundred yards of my house. I’m left to lament D&J Wilcock, Lyons and the Gidlow Bakery, however the Muffin Man of my childhood, remains intact on Park Road.

It’s a traditional bakers with several branches in Wigan. As the name implies they do lovely, fluffy muffins in packs of six. These are known in Wigan as barmcakes. Known elsewhere as cobs / rolls / baps / teacakes / breadcakes and the source of pithy regional internet arguments everywhere.

There’s also pasties, chunky steak pies and breakfast items, and chicken and mushroom pies, the latter of which I often decline, on the basis that I refuse point blank to eat anything that grows between your toes. This is a phobia I will have to conquer in the coming months.

For today, I manage to procure the last three meat and potato pies on the shelf.

“Put some more pies in, these have run out”

It’s barely eleven in the morning! Only in Wigan!

2.

Purveyor: The Muffin Man
Premises: Wigan
Purchase: Large meat and potato pie £1.35

Place: 8 Brisk and brusque, the Wigan pie woman in action is truly an art form to admire
Pastry: 9 Firm enough that the crust doesn’t crumble in any way, yet softer than the dulcet tones of the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny. Heavenly.
Presentation: 6 Not very warm but this was acknowledged
Package: 8 Densely packed potato bound with mince in a mash. Heavier on the potato than meat but plenty in there
Palate: 8 The mince is pinkish but deliciously tender and it is a proper Lancastrian pie with sloppy potato filling oozing all over
Price: 8 Two options to serve different appetites works for me
Portion: 8 I mean who on earth orders a small pie when there’s a large one on the menu?

OVERALL: 55/70. I’m parked up at the side of the road, whilst talking into my phone like an Apprentice candidate. A paperboy walks past looking at me oddly, as I narrate this review Partridge-style. As I said: Pies are serious business. An early contender.

The finer details:
The original review took place on Saturday 21st January 2012. (where did those nine years go!) I have eaten enough of these subsequently to verify the above account, and yes, they are usually served piping hot. They also do a lovely line in pork pies with accompaniments, such as pork with apple, black pudding or chorizo.

Current pricing (January 2021)
Potato and meat pie £1.85

Website: Muffin Man
Twitter: Muffin Man (@Muffinmanbakery) / Twitter
Facebook: Muffin man | Facebook
Instagram: @muffinman_wigan
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/

Previous review: Sayers meat and potato pie

As you can see, I am slowly in the process of adding the hundreds of pie reviews I captured over the years. If you don’t want to wait a while, you can read all 314 reviews in Life of Pies for the bargain price of just £4.99 & P&P here

 

Sayers Meat and Potato Pie

By |2021-01-12T11:51:46+00:00January 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, North West, Pies|Tags: , , , , , |

Hampson’s Meat and Potato Pie

NB Now trading as Sayers

Today we go right back to the start. To be honest, we had been reviewing pies informally for years in the fanzines I was involved with but Monday 16th January 2012 was the first day that I consciously went out to buy a pie and review it.

It took place in one of the poshest areas of Knutsford, close to where I was working at the time and I am lucky I didn’t get arrested. I visited a Hampson’s Bakers in the town, subsequently re-branded as Sayers. They also include the Pound bakery in their stable, more on them later.

Enjoy, as your then thirty-something pie reviewer made his first foray into (semi) professional pie eating, totally unaware of the monster he was about to unleash….

Hampson’s (Sayer’s) Meat and Potato Pie

I’m sat in my car in a leafy lane near Knutsford town centre. I have carefully assembled a digital camera and have got a white chopping board laid out on the passenger seat, with the box underneath to prop it up level to the seat’s curvature. There’s a load of white van men working on a big house across the road and a postman has just walked past, whistling. Because all postmen whistle.

I lay the pie out on the chopping board and I produce a large shiny carving knife out of my Asda bag, lift the pie out of it’s foil tray and proceed to sever it in half with one almighty, glee-filled blow. Just as a pair of ageing pedestrians walk past with their dog.

“Police are trying to trace a man seen acting suspiciously in a silver car in the area around the time of the crime”

Those are the words ringing through my head right now. I’m not right in the head am I, let’s face it? This is ODD behaviour; or at the very least OCD behaviour. It makes perfect sense to me though: this is the first stage in a quest I have believed in for quite some time now.
It is the duty of a Wigan man to sample as many pies as is humanly possible from around the world.

I want to find the best there is. It may be in my home town of Wigan, or further afield. I need a plan, a map, an understanding wife and some healthy working organs. Can I travel the UK, albeit ever so slightly skewed towards the North to find and review the best pies and try and find the ultimate pie? It’s time to find out…..

My first review is in Knutsford near work. It’s posh. The local MP is George Osborne. This might well be where he comes when he wants to rough it and stick a meat pie down his grid. I doubt it though.

It’s nearly 1pm when I wander in to break up the chit chat as two ladies turn and stand to attention.
“I’ll have a meat and potato pie please”

You’ll be hearing me say that an awful lot. It’s my staple diet for 700 days, although I’m prepared to mix it up a bit in the interests of research. I mean they do a CHIP SHOP CURRY PASTY in here for God’s sake, who wouldn’t want one of those?

There are a range of pasties from chicken tikka and cheese and onion but it’s the pie I’m after, which comes in a Sayers wrapper. Confused? Hampsons are part of the Sayers group and they also own the Pound Bakery (more on them later). They have sensibly opted to retain their prestige brand name for the residents of the Tatton constituency mind you.

 

1.
Purveyor: Hampsons Bakers
Premises: Bolton
Purchase: Meat and Potato pie £1.05

Place: 7 I get a smile which is a start! Attentive and seemed genuinely pleased to see me. They offered me a fork which blotted their copy book a bit mind you.
Pastry: 7 The pie possesses perfect portability and holds together throughout. The crust edge is a tad thick, which often sets the heartburn alarm bells ringing, but the whole pie is eaten by hand and there is zero, I repeat zero spillage
Presentation: 7 It’s scorching hot like a hand grenade, yet once the foil tray has been dispensed with, it’s almost the perfect room temperature to chomp into
Package: 8 A deep mix of meat and potato chunks, full to the brim with hardly any airspace
Palate: 7 This lot churn out the pies by the van load so it’s a quality, solid performer if a little generic
Price: 8 Slightly above average sized pie for a slight below average price
Portion: 7 A standard size
OVERALL: If I had the best pie in the whole wide world first, it would be a very short book. The Hampsons pie is a good, solid performer but not spectacular. It sets a benchmark that some will exceed but many will fall short of and gets a respectable 51 out of 70 marks.
Now, I need to get a plan together…..

The finer details:
The original review took place on Monday 16th January 2012. Hampsons (now all Sayers branded) continue to have a range of shops across the North West stocking a wide variety of pies, pasties and probably some more healthy stuff, we’re not going to plug here.

Little known fact: Some time after publishing the Life of Pies, I was approached by a marketing consultant to do some work with them and become the face of Sayers / The Pound Bakery. I politely declined as it may compromise my impartiality. Looks like they went with Ken Barlow instead.

Current pricing (Jan 2021):
You can expect to pay around £2 for a fresh, hot meat and potato or steak pie from Sayers these days, though prices may vary slightly.

Website: Sayers the bakers
Twitter: @sayersthebakers
Facebook: Sayers the Bakers
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

 

Bowen’s Meat and Potato Pie

By |2020-12-24T12:37:28+00:00December 24th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies|Tags: , , , , , , |

Time for another North West fave, although as with Turners Pies, Bowens Pies now serve the whole country.

I didn’t know much about them, when I started my research in Life of Pies, just that they had supplied the pies for the annual Wigan Pie Eating awards. Little did I know that both then and now, they supply a large number of pubs and shops throughout the Wigan area and beyond.

Although based just outside Wigan, in nearby Adlington, they have built up a wide distribution network across the town, in a classic “coals to Newcastle” stunt. But trust me here, Bowen’s pies are every bit the Wigan pie and I was taken aback by the quality when I first tried them.
Since then, I have used them for numerous functions, including my first book launch and the cover of the draft for my new book, also features a platter of their produce. Magnificent isn’t it?

Anyway, let me take you back and set the scene, way back to my first time in August 2012….

116. Bowen’s Meat and Potato Pie

It’s 25 degrees outside and, whereas it might be splendid weather for a jaunt around middle England, there’s no bloody way I’m sitting in a car for four hours with the family in tow.

So I’m checking out Bowens of Adlington. I chanced upon them mainly because I saw a van go past me the other day. I also noticed that they were the suppliers for last year’s World pie eating contest (held in Wigan obviously!)

Their website features gratuitous full frontal minced beef and potato pie photos with no 9pm watershed, and they also do their own steak puddings, another fine Lancashire delicacy. I need to refrain from making any disparaging comments about Adlington or its’ natives however, as my wife teaches there.

A brief canter up Chorley Road, past the infamous Duxbury Park golf course, where I once shot an impressive 120. I took so long to go around, that they’d shut the place by the time I finished and I had to get a taxi home wearing my golf shoes. I wouldn’t mind but I’d cheated on a number of holes too.

It’s heavy going on the roads, due to the sheer volume of middle aged fat blokes, wobbling down the road on flimsy looking bicycles. It’s as if a local lad has just won the Tour de France or something!

Bowens is across the road from Babylon Lane, not on it, hence ruining my attempts to do a poor gag about Babylon Lane being paradise. (Ed’s note: they have also moved premises since)

Nevertheless it’s bright blue sign draws me across the busy road like a tractor beam. A little girl playfully blocks my way and refuses to let me gain ingress to the premises, until a big fella with protruding teeth, presumably her dad, tells her to “gerrout road!!” I blame the teachers myself!! Whoops!

There is a huge, high silver counter, dominating the shop, containing a myriad of products and a handful of staff in aprons, beavering away in white pork pie hats. Service is brisk, just as well as I’m on double yellows.

Loads of choice of pie fillings, although I select my accompaniment from the rack of Lancashire crisps on display which includes Salt and Ellseys vinegar (an old traditional Wigan vinegar company) and Bumble’s favourite, Lancashire sauce flavour crisps.

The pie? Oh yes, it’s a blinder!!

116.
Purveyor: Bowens
Premises: Adlington, nr Chorley
Purchase: Meat and Potato Pie £1.19

Place: 8 Polite and brisk
Pastry: 8 A sturdy, solid shortcrust
Presentation: 8 Even with the window fully down, it still smells lush in my car and is still piping hot 30 minutes later, when I tuck in
Package: 9 Huge, uncompromising slabs of golden spud concatenated with lots of flowing meat and juices
Palate: 9 Hits the spot from the first bite, with a hint of pepper but natural flavour pouring out too
Price: 8.5 Good price and great value
Portion: 9 Possessing both width and girth, I mean depth

OVERALL: 59.5/70 Exceptional, we are truly spoilt around these parts. At the risk of sounding parochial, whoever’s written that top 10 pies article on the MSN website is talking out of their arse (Editor’s note: This was eight years ago, so I’ve no chance of finding it!) and needs to spend the day around the North West scoffing a few of these beauties. A truly phenomenal pie and the crisps were fantastic too.

The finer details:

The original review took place on Saturday 11th August 2012. Bowens continue to grow and thrive as a great pie business, in fact putting up this blog is making me want to jump in the car and drive to Adlington.

You can buy their pies online HERE or pop into their shops if you are local. Popular flavours include steak, pork, cheese and onion and that old Lancashire favourite, the Butter Pie.

Current pricing (December 2020)
A Bowen’s meat and potato pie is just £2.00 if you pick one up from the shops

Website: Bowen Award Winning Pies – Wigan (bowenpies.co.uk)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bowenpies
Facebook: Bowen Pies | Facebook
Instagram: Bowen Pies (@bowenpies) • Instagram photos and videos
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
If you like these reviews, there’s hundreds of them in Life of Pies. You can buy a copy here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

Turners Steak and Ale Pie (142)

By |2020-12-20T13:39:11+00:00December 20th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Life of Pies, Pies, Uncategorised|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Time for another pie from the archives and today, I am going to move out of the North West all the way down to sunny Sussex. I don’t know how I first came across Turners’ Pies, but I am very glad I did. And they have been very hard to avoid since, given their meteoric rise up the pie charts.

They are a multiple British Pie Award supreme pie winner (the biggest accolade any pie maker can get!) So it is only fair that I accelerate and acknowledge their presence in the Good Pie Guide.

Turners Steak and Ale Pie

Bognor Regis, a place so sleepy it’s twinned with the Land of Nod. It does possess Turners however, a specialist family run pie shop with a very smart exterior, if a little bit marooney in colour.

As soon as I get out of the car, that unmistakeable waft of pastry comes heading my way, I’m like a geriatric Bisto-kid. The lad serving is a chirpy Cockney geezer, with a mop of hair and therefore bearing more than a passing resemblance to Charlatans front man Tim Burgess. All about the pies in here, chicken and steak of various dimensions, served on their own or you can chuck in peas, mash and gravy for a couple of extra quid.

142.

Purveyor: Turners
Premises: Bognor Regis
Purchase: Steak and ale pie £2.30

Place: 8 The hot pies and mash are pulled down from a serving hatch which is a nice touch
Pastry: 8 A highly decorative crust, crisp in the mouth but uneven and artisan in its form, suggesting it has been crimped by hand. Highly portable as well, not that I’ve seen many Sussex folk walking around eating pies with their hands like they do where I’m from
Presentation: 9 Amazing aroma and piping hot
Package: 9 A dangerously overcrowded population of prime steak lies within
Palate: 8 Mighty and meaty
Price: 7 Over £2 takeaway but this is no average pie
Portion: 8 Deep and oblong shaped

OVERALL: 57/70 A splendidly well filled pie from a passionate vendor dedicated to fine food

The finer details:

The original review took place on Tuesday 16th October 2012. Obviously with Turners being a good 250 miles from my house, I am yet to pay a repeat visit, or indeed, try their Pies by Post service. Though I should add that I have no doubt unknowing eaten their pies in my role of judge at the British Pie Awards. Given their 2020 success with it, I reason that the next pie of theirs to review for the Good Pie Guide will be the Steak and Stilton pie, the 2020 BPA Supreme Champion. Can’t wait!

Current pricing (December 2020)
A steak and ale pie is currently retailing at £3.80 via Turner’s click and collect service. Or you can of course buy in bulk using their Pies by Post service.

Website: https://www.turnerspies.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TurnersPies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TurnersPies/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/turnerspies/
Click here to add a pie review of your own: https://goodpieguide.co.uk/add-pie/
You can buy a copy of Life of Pies here for just £4.99 plus P&P

 

 

 

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