There are many meat pies in town, but not all are created equal. At Londonist we want to make sure our winter weight gain comes courtesy of only the very best this year, so we've selected our absolute top five favourites. Fish and vegetable pie round ups to follow in good time.
Bob Bob Ricard
Just look at that varnished crust. So shiny. So taut. Surely this is the most visually impressive pie in London? Embossed with the Bob Bob Ricard logo for good measure, it must have taken an age to get right. The filling is chicken, mushroom and naturally, champagne. Everything at this Soho pleasure palace screams luxury, and it's long been our favourite place to while away a few hours by connecting our faces to their frothy pink G&Ts and ice cold martinis. Once winter comes however, it's all about those pies.
Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James St, W1F 9DF
This Covent Garden institution is always dependable when it comes to quality British classics and there is surely no restaurant more plush in which to enjoy your pastry. Nothing is understated here, from the taxidermy to the swathes of crimson velvet, the silver, crystal and trophies. The pie is perfectly made of course, so eat it, alongside some fitting British sides such as hot buttered cabbage, before making your way upstairs to the bar for a cocktail.
Rules, 34-35 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7LB
The Camberwell Arms
The Camberwell Arms won an Observer Food Monthly award for its Sunday roast, and we recommend you get down there pronto to try one of their pies, which are great for sharing between two. They usually have three flavours on rotation; their steak, ale and bone marrow pie is a frequent resident. Yum. So what makes them so great? We asked chef/owner Michael Davies who told us that it's a combination of: "high quality ingredients, crispy fatty pastry and a rich but not overly thick filling." He goes on to describe ingredients such as dry aged native breed beef like Dexter, in-house smoked bacon and Breton carrots grown in salty, mineral-rich beds. For the pastry, it has to be a suet crust, which will be "rock hard and glistening with bubbling fat on top, still retaining a moist underside" and for the filling, "the sauce should be a coating consistency, glossy but loose. Too thick and although it may seem appealing it will ultimately be too rich." Crikey. Is it lunchtime yet?
The Camberwell Arms, 65 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8TR
Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves recommends the stuffed-to-the-brim pies at this 'see and be seen' Soho hotspot. It can be a little 'upper-crust', but we forgive it for its ever-changing menu that graces us with a daily pie and mash offering. The beauty is in the simplicity. No frills here but each pie is packed full of hearty, seasonal ingredients - all topped off with a flaky, golden pastry crust. Previous fillings include pheasant and duck, game and beef, each coming dripping with flavour. At £17.50 it's certainly not your bog-standard pie shop, but their Pie & Oyster Mondays offer a very welcome 50% discount.
Quo Vadis, 28-29 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3LL
The Ivy's shepherd's pie must be one of the most famous meat pies in London and no, it doesn't come cheap, at £19.50 for a small circular portion. Why is it so good? We're not sure. Recipes fly about freely on the internet and it doesn't look particularly special, so we can only assume it's down to the quality of the ingredients used. This recipe for example simply lists, 'veal stock' and we're guessing that's a special liquid made over the best part of three days. The flavour of the pie is intense, that's for sure.
The Ivy, 8 West Street, WC2H 9NE