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…
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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