In all this cold weather there is something very comforting about pie and mash. Very much a comfort food, it’s not something I actually eat very often.
A chance discovery in the Oxford Covered Market introduced me to the delights of the Pie Minister. I am sure that it is supposed to be pronounced MIN-IS-TER, for some reason I have in my head it should be pronounced MINS-TER as in York Minster. I just think Pie Minster sounds much better than Pie Minister. It’s a lovely little place in the market and despite the fact it is called a market, this is not a stall, it’s a small restaurant (well probably more like a cafe) in the heart of the market. The Oxford Covered Market is a lovely quirky place in the heart of Oxford with lots of lovely stalls, shops and places to eat. If you ever visit Oxford then do visit the market.
Pie Minster on first appearances, feels more like a wartime soup kitchen, than a restaurant, there is a counter where you place your order. You can take away or eat in. If you want to, you can buy the pies to take away. Within Pie Minister there are communal benches with tables, that have a variety of sauces on them, as well as bottles of tap water and glasses. There are also bar stools by the window with space to eat.
Pie Minister offers a range of pies with a wide variety of fillings. From the traditional steak and kidney or as they call it Kate and Sidney, through to vegetarian pies such the Wild Shroom, with wild mushrooms, asparagus, white wine & cream.
On my first visit I went with the Deerstalker Pie, with British venison and outdoor reared dry cured bacon with red wine and puy lentils. This I had served on a bed of mash with gravy. You can add more trimmings, but I decided to stick with just pie, mash and gravy. It was quite reasonable at £6.00.
This was served on a tin plate, which added to that atmosphere of a wartime soup kitchen. The pie was really really good. Often when you have pie, it is either a small stew with a puff pastry lid (that is often cooked separately), or it’s a huge pie which you cut into find it’s full of space and there is a small amount of filling at the bottom. No the pie at Pie Minister was full of delicious filling full of flavour, the pastry had a good crunch. The mash was smooth and well seasoned and the gravy was not too thick and not too thin. It added to the dish and did not overpower it, it tasted as gravy should and didn’t appear to be made from a gravy packet.
I really did enjoy the pie and would certainly recommend Pie Minister. There are a fair few branches across the south and they also have a market stall that visits those farmers’ markets that are now a regular feature of most high streets.