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British Pie Week: London's best, from St John to The Devonshire

Clawsome: Mount St Restaurant’s famous lobster pie  (Press handout)
Clawsome: Mount St Restaurant’s famous lobster pie (Press handout)

London has been in a committed relationship with pies since time immemorial — well, since we first made them in the Middle Ages — and it’s been a full-on romance which shows no sign of relenting.

From flabby suet puddings to flaky golden pastry-topped pots, our adoration of pies knows no bounds. It stretches to glorious Wellingtons, homely chicken and mushroom numbers and even an imported galette de rois or two. Nothing beats the pleasing simplicity of a pie and a handful of newer restaurant openings have ensured that pies remain golden jewel in the crown of London's best menus.

Whether craving something savoury or sweet, needing a number wrapped in pastry or simply topped with silky mash below are London’s perfect pies to satisfy.

Manze’s

Let's start at the beginning. Though eaten widely for centuries, it was east Londoner’s love of pies helped translate the staple into a national dish during the 19th and 20th centuries. Manze’s in Deptford has been a classic pie shop for more than 110 years, with jellied eels optional. The shop is set to close in March 2025, when owner George Mascall hangs up his apron, so a nod to the cultural heritage of this once essential trade is a must before it's consigned to the history books. Expect flaky pastry, liquor — that’s parsley sauce — buttery mashed potatoes and spicy vinegar all combine for the ultimate old-school pie and mash experience.

204 Deptford High Street, SE8 3PR, manzepieandmash.com

Holborn Dining Room

Nokx Majozi, above, took over from pie-making favourite Calum Franklin to become head pie-maker at the Pie Room at Holborn Dining Room in 2022 and has continued the legacy of exceptional quality pies made with immaculate ingredients. The beef Wellington with truffle duxelle, mushrooms and bresaola is a special dish, but a more modern langoustine, salmon, octopus and bisque creation is more than worthy of attention, too.

252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN, holborndiningroom.com

Bistro Freddie

 (Via Press Handout)
(Via Press Handout)

One of east London's best new restaurants, Bistro Freddie burst onto the scene last year courtesy Anna Søgaard and the team behind Crispin and Bar Crispin. British food and French wine is the winning formula and the star of the show is the chicken and tarragon pie. It's a simple thing: hearty, warming, bathing in a rich sauce with a delicate pastry lid. While the sun is still setting early, it's a homely winter warmer.74 Luke St, EC2A 4PY, bistrofreddie.com

The Pelican

 (Handout)
(Handout)

An integral part of west London’s 2023 renaissance, the Pelican pub helped bring a relaxed elegance to a slightly unloved classic boozer. The beef anf Guinness pie is a notable example of an ethos where every day offerings are elevated above normal pub fare. Pastry all over — rather than just a lid — is an important aspect of this delicious creation. At £19, it might be one of the best value finds in an otherwise eye-wateringly expensive neighbourhood.

45 All Saints Road, W11 1HE, thepelicanw11.com

St John

Few things in London, perhaps in life, are more pleasurable than a long, lazy lunch at St John. As expected at this historic bastion of old school British cookery, the pies are non-negotiable. Feasting versions with pig's head and potato are eight-person shareable behemoths that need requesting a month in advance, but traditional game pies or chicken with additional gelatinous pig trotter are on the menu more readily. Ideal for those to which planning doesn't come as naturally.

26 St John Street, EC1M 4AY, stjohnrestaurant.com

The Devonshire

Little can be added to the glut of good praise heaped on the Devonshire. Considered near enough pub perfection, the full food offering has now caught up with the atmosphere of the ground floor drinking space. The snacking menu and the set lunch are all up there in terms of value and quality, but nestled in the a la carte is a flabby, rich suet pudding full of beef and Guinness. Go here, eat this. 17 Denman Street, W1D 7HW, devonshiresoho.co.uk

Mount St. Restaurant

 (Press Handout)
(Press Handout)

The battle of the lobster pie is on (Bentley’s, below, also do a mean one). Images of Mount Street’s lobster pie were everywhere last year, meaning it’s already something of a signature dish at the swish Mayfair restaurant. As seen at the top of this page, the crustacean’s head, roasted and exposed, climbs out the lid of this golden, spectacular serving, which might be London’s most expensive pie which, though it generously feeds two people, is nearly £100.

41-43 Mount Street, W1K 2RX, mountstrestaurant.com

Arments pie and mash

Arments is a proper pie and mash shop with a rich history, where £100 would buy the menu out. The current owners are fourth generation pie and mash vendors, with Arments having served the Walworth and Camberwell community for almost 115 years. This is a spot for chilli vinegar, sarsaparilla, liquor, creamy mash, and wholesome, hearty pies. They take these pies exceptionally seriously, so much so that they use two different pastry recipes for their creations: one for the base (to ensure a soft-not-soggy bottom) and one for the top, designed for extra crisp golden flaky wonders. The recipe is a guarded secret, but at about £3 a pie, there’s plenty of opportunity to test them out.

7 Westmoreland Road, SE17 2AX, armentspieandmash.com

The Marksman

 (Handout)
(Handout)

One of the UK’s finest pubs for food, the Marksman does a cracking pie. Chicken and mushroom is usually on the menu. Girolles, earthy and delicate, thigh meat succulent and tender; it’s a symphony of creamy gloriousness. Whilst the pub says the pie serves two on the menu, add a side dish or two and it’ll comfortably do three.

254 Hackney Road, E2 7SJ, marksmanpublichouse.com

J Sheekey

 (John Carey)
(John Carey)

The fish pie at West End institution Sheekey’s proves that flaky pastry isn’t always a must when creating a legendary pie. Enter the creamy mashed potato lid. Perfectly smooth mash rendered crisp in the oven covers tender hunks of freshly prepared fish, it’s the kind of simply delicious pie that brings on deep pangs of nostalgia and, surprisingly given its glamorous surroundings, doesn’t cost the earth.

St Martin’s Court, WC2N 4AL, j-sheekey.co.uk

The Barley Mow

Since joining the wider Cubitt House group, chef Ben Tish has brought new life to the menus. The result here? A hearty pie where tender beef swims in a rich well-made gravy, parsley sauce and creamy mash on the side — oyster optional, but highly recommended.

82 Duke Street, W1K 6JG, cubitthouse.co.uk

The Drapers Arms

 (Handout)
(Handout)

The Drapers Arms is Islington's go-to pub, a low-key boozer with a food menu as pleasing as it is straightforward. The pie to have here is a suet crust beef bourguignon number which is about as deliciously wintry as it's possible to be. Set yourself up for success with a pint and tuck into the best pie in the neighbourhood.

44 Barnsbury Street, N1 1ER , thedrapersarms.com

Bob Bob Ricard

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Bob Bob Ricard has a well-deserved reputation as a glitzy, glamorous, slightly debaucherous den of eating and drinking well. It’s not the cheapest night out in town but fortunately, there is pie. Specifically their “humble pie”, a total misnomer as its two primary ingredients are Champagne and truffles. Served under flaky, logo-embossed pastry lid, the pie also includes celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke and mushrooms for a hearty and umami rich experience. Humble? We’ll leave that up to you.

1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF, bobbobricard.com

Sweetings

Sweetings describes itself as a “city institution”, probably because that’s exactly what it is. With more than 100 years under its belt, it’s long been a stalwart of the City and an unashamed, unchanging feature of the dining landscape of London; people come for Guinness in silver tankards, for too much white wine and for the terrific seafood. The fish pie, at £16, remains one of the best value dishes in town, but also one of the best. As satisfying as anything homemade.

39 Queen Victoria Street, EC4N 4SF, sweetingsrestaurant.com

Quo Vadis

Jeremy Lee is known for his laugh, his generosity of spirit, and his pies. The daily pie has been on the Quo Vadis menu for as long as anyone can remember, and doubtless long before that too (memories are typically blurred at QV). Sometimes beef, sometimes lamb or chicken, usually with a proper suet lid and only ever around £20, it’s one of the more pleasing and reliable things in life.

26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL, quovadissoho.co.uk

Putney Pies

 (Matt Barr)
(Matt Barr)

Never mind the best pies in London, Putney Pies is laying its cards on the table by purporting to serve “the finest pies in the land”. It is certainly difficult to beat for an atmospheric location, as diners make their way into the arched vault beside the Thames, a setting ripe for pie-eating. Choose between shortcrust, puff or pot pies with fillings including classic steak and ale or an alternative Mexican-inspired chilli pie. Whatever is on the menu, it always delivers.

2 Putney High Street, SW15 1SL, putneypies.co.uk

Bentley’s

 (@lateef.photography)
(@lateef.photography)

On paper, Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill sounds a plush, expensive haunt. It’s a fine restaurant tucked down a Mayfair side street, full of white tablecloths and dark wood panels. Yet amongst the Dover sole and lobster thermidor, a classic, humble fish pie can be found. Richard Corrigan, the legendary chef-patron has democratised this most famous creation by making the full recipe and method available online. If you’d rather opt for something more luxurious though, a royal fish pie is also served, featuring langoustine, lobster, scallops, and a slug of brandy for good measure.

11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG, bentleys.org

The Camberwell Arms

 (Camberwell Arms)
(Camberwell Arms)

One of South London’s best-known and well-loved food pubs just marked its 10th birthday. A regular on the menu is the beef, ale, and bone marrow pie, served for two to share. For £50, the pie comes with chips and buttered greens and, being self-saucing, guests are served and left to enjoy it as they would at home — all they need do is cut into the shortcrust and go to town.

65 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 88TR, thecamberwellarms.co.uk

Fowl

 (FOWL)
(FOWL)

You might have seen the chicken head pie on Instagram. Fowl opened last year, a casual restaurant concept from the Fallow team, and so dishes come with social media action in mind. Here, we have a pie made from chicken liver, hearts, wings, and feet, and the head pops out of the golden pastry, beak and all. Much fun and only £24 a cluck.

3 Norris St, St. James's, SW1Y 4RJ, fowlrestaurant.com