Westwell’s Meat and Potato Pie (RIP)

By |2022-01-09T12:15:28+00:00January 9th, 2022|Categories: Good Pie Guide, Life of Pies, Meat and Potato Pie, North West|Tags: , , , |

The sad part about refreshing my database, as I continue to collate my new book, is finding out that so many fine, traditional bakers have fallen by the wayside. Sure, new entrants have come along. Lockdown, in particular, for all it’s drawbacks, has given lots of people the chance to seize an opportunity that they might never have taken, to don an apron and try their hand at a career change.

With me working from the beginning, I am finding that the landscape has changed considerably in ten years and East Manchester in particular has suffered from the closure of two giants of their time. We join this tale just after I had visited The Crusty Cob and was heading towards Westwell’s Bakery. One time supplier of tater hash to FC United when they were still at Gigg Lane:

Westwell’s Meat and Potato Pie

Wow! I’m beaming away like a small child in Openshaw Matalan car park, being observed closely by a fag toting security guard, who is probably wondering what the hell I’ve got to be so pleased about on a drab Saturday morning.

But there’s more! I make for the Openshaw/Droylsden border down a side street which is tail to bumper with erratically parked white vans, full of blokes stuffing their faces. Hello hello, what have we here?

Westwells, home of previously mentioned Tater Hash, is a corner plot and very rustic inside. Sandwiches, pies and two pans of peas and gravy and a fridge full of cans. No price list and when she orally presents the bill for my purchase, I am inclined to clean my ears out…

Purveyor: Westwells

Premises: Droylsden, Manchester

Purchase: A meat and potato pie for EIGHTY FIVE PENCE

Place: 8 I’m kept waiting a while as the hi viz gentleman in front orders his sides of peas and gravy but the old girl behind the counter quickly shouts her co-worker for assistance in a lovely Mancunian accent, so deep it makes Barry White sound distinctly soprano

Pastry: 8 A bit crumbly, but again distinctly home made, with a teasing little peephole in the middle

Presentation: 8 The foil tray is so furnace-like, it appears to be burning a hole in my hand, but the smell of gravy emanating from inside, means this pie is destined for a quick larruping

Package: 8 Intensely full inside, easy on the eye with potatoes that are so sodden with gravy, they’re dark brown in colour

Palate: 7 The spectre of the tater hash rears its ugly head again (on a previous trip to FC United world renowned food critic, Orrible Ives of the Norley Hall estate in Wigan, decreed the tater hash “dry and tasteless” – nor did he pay for it the ungrateful bounder!) It was a touch dry in parts, however the divine softness of the filling compensates for a slight lack of flavour

Price: 9. I repeat: EIGHTY FIVE NEW PENCE

Portion: 7.5 Slightly raised in the middle in order to accommodate more content

OVERALL: 55.5/70 A splendid price and a great looking pie but the (arguable) lack of seasoning only enforces the suggestion that you might want to team up this little cracker with some peas and gravy.

The finer details:

The original review took place on Saturday 28th January 2012. I have since discovered that, just like The Crusty Cob, Westwell’s has also pulled it’s last pie out of the oven a couple of years ago and the premises have now been converted to flats. Sad times but fond memories!

See previous review: The Crusty Cob Meat and Potato Pie (RIP) – The Good Pie Guide

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The Crusty Cob Meat and Potato Pie (RIP)

By |2021-10-28T13:59:46+01:00October 28th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, Location, Meat and Potato Pie, North West|Tags: , , , , , |

Sadly, this is one from the archives, from a place that is no more, yet it was one of the favourite pies I had whilst on my previous mission.

They were another Maurice Twomowers recommendation, similar to Slatterys but of the four pies I had that day, this was by far the best.
Sadly, the Crusty Cob ceased trading a few years back. It now appears to be a kebab shop ☹

In any case, I’m still going to share my review of one of the finest pies ever made. To all the young entrepreneurs out there, making visually gastronomic pleasures, with all manner of daft flavours. Well, why not try and make these hand made, odd shaped, leaking with gravy beauties instead. They might not garner the same level of Instagram likes, but bloody hell they tasted amazing and they will fly off the shelves if you can make them half as good.


The Crusty Cob Meat and Potato Pie

On to Ancoats and the irony of Man Utd lads sending me to one of their hidden treasures situated in the shadow of the Etihad isn’t lost. Though technically this is where Manchester United started off, back when they were just a bunch of workshy railwaymen, who’d rather kick a ball about than stoke a steam engine, with no grand designs on Premier League domination.

I drive through part of the “Shameless” estate, finding it relatively genteel, after having gone through much gentrification in recent times and arrive in Beswick Street. The Crusty Cob sits in a secluded row of shops, perched on a hill, which runs down to the stadium.

It’s well kept and I’m queuing up trying to ascertain the menu. Manchester is firmly meat and potato country. There’s meat pies and potato pies and meat and potato pies, all of them look homemade and delicious as I tune in to other people’s orders. The fella in front orders 12 [twelve] meat and potato pies and six cream horns.

Purveyor: The Crusty Cob
Premises: Manchester
Purchase: Meat and potato pie £1.22
Place: 6.5 Queuing system a bit of a mess
Pastry: 9 Home made, impeccably soft, short crust pastry, made to perfection. The crust is the first thing you see and I can’t take my eyes off these beauties, from the second I walk into the shop. A quite simply stunning uneven top crust.
Presentation: 9 A real looker, highly distinct. More importantly, it’s piping hot with more steam coming off it than an irate Popeye.
Package: 9.5 Fantastic dark gravy spilling out and wrapping up a crowded filling of meat and potato chunks
Palate: 9 Dark, mysterious and opulent gravy coating steak and potato which has a remarkable freshness about it
Price: 8 I endorse the fact it’s £1.22. It implies they are resisting the lazy option of whacking the price with all their might in multiples of 5 or 10. Putting the customer’s pocket before their own ballache of handling masses of coppers
Portion: 7.5 Average size but great volume

OVERALL: 58.5/70 Equally as suitable for an Arab sheikh or a humble railway worker. I’m beaming away like a small child in Openshaw Matalan car park, whilst I’m being observed closely by a security guard on a fag break, who is probably wondering what the hell I’ve got to be so pleased about on a drab Saturday morning.

The finer details:
The original review took place on Saturday 28th January 2012. The owners of the Crusty Cob retired in 2018, after 47 years service. As an aside, I got friendly with the owner and his son, a year or two after I published the book. I was working in the Northern Quarter at the time, and faced with a shed full of books to sell, I finally answered my phone to a tabloid press agency, who wanted me to do a feature. There was only one place to go for a (reluctant) photoshoot.

My face ended up in the Daily Star, Daily Mirror and Daily Mail (I know) and, far from the spectacle that getting your name in the paper or on telly used to entail, I sold a mere 30 copies of the book off the back of it. It hardly seemed worth it, but the hospitality from Dave and his son was second to none. They were genuinely proud that their pies were one of the best out of the 300+ I sampled, and even sold the book in the shop for several years. Which of course, gave me any excuse to return again and again and sample their lovely pies.

See previous review https://goodpieguide.co.uk/slatterys-meat-and-potato-pie/
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Taylor’s Pepper Pie

By |2021-03-30T12:23:06+01:00March 30th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Good Pie Guide, North West|Tags: , , , , , , |

Well, well, we are still in lockdown so my movements are so limited, I can’t even get across to Leigh. However, with a bit of improvisation, it was possible for a few pastry shaped pieces of Leigh to come to me.

Cook & Foragers is a butchers based in Appley Bridge near Wigan who also sell pies. They sell them from the fantastic Bowen Pies (more on them here) but they also stock pies from a bakery called Taylors from Leigh.

I am unsure whether I have sampled these before. I once went on a mission around St Helens’ market and picked up a few pies from a stall called Cottams, and from what I understand, it may well have sold Taylor’s produce. What with me being a greedy get, I pointed at the biggest pie on display and bagged it.

It was only when I opened it up on a layby on the East Lancs, I noticed it appeared to be a touch bereft of a fully encased crust. It was, in fact, a Lancashire hot pot. It was a beautiful hot pot too, large and juicy inside and full flavoured.

But it wasn’t a pie. Time to rectify this matter.

As I hadn’t visited the bakery shop to pick these up due to lockdown, they were handed to me refrigerated. Nevertheless, I give the dome shaped crust a good old sniff before putting it in the oven  and the pastry smells magnificent, clearly composed of light, sweet, buttery texture that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Leigh and Wigan are around eight miles apart, but if Wigan is home of the meat and potato pie, Leigh it seems is the home of the pepper pie.

And Taylors have made traditional meat and potato pies and pepper pies the same way since 1938.

The concept behind the pepper pie is that meat and potato pies were often filled with cheap meat, so they required a bit of extra seasoning to take away the taste, or enhance it if you prefer.

These days of course, we all like a bit of spice in our food regardless so whereas the mince meat is of great quality, a bit of extra pepper is an added delight to warm you up on a cold spring day.

I remove the pie from the oven, and gently ease it out of the foil tray, with the casing still fully intact. The crust hem is remarkably sturdy but the top crust is delicate and has a fine aroma coming off it. Inside, there is a good inch so layer of potato mash, interspersed with mince meat.

There is a bit of airspace at the top, but as I am eating the pie the way that nature intended (i.e. by hand), the crust is holding it’s shape well and absorbing the filling with each mouthful. If any of the juicy, light coloured gravy looks like going rogue, I simply suck it up before it escapes on to the plate / floor / fingers.

I’m getting good hints of salt and pepper in there, adding a pleasant layer of extra flavour in there but not so much that it is too overpowering. The mince is tender and the potato is soft and golden, and the pie is piping hot throughout, after twenty minutes in the oven.

This is a substantially sized pie which does enough to fill me up and takes a while to get through even though I’m loving it. The pepper content seems to ratchet up even further as I finish off the last few pieces!

The details

The price is outstanding at just £1.40 for a large meat and potato pie and £1.50 for a steak and ale pie (to follow!).

You can pick up Taylor’s pies from their shop at Leigh: Hill St, Leigh WN7 4DT, or for many stockists across the North west.

Website for more details: https://www.taylorsofleigh.co.uk/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/taylorsbakeryleigh/

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