'I tried pie and mash for the first time ever from the oldest family-run pie shop'

Founded in 1862 by Robert Cooke in East London, F. Cooke remains the oldest established eel and pie house family still in existence today. After nearly 160 years and much demand, 5th generation Robert Cooke has brought the F. Cooke legacy to Chelmsford, Essex - and it just felt right that I had my first traditional pie and mash experience here after being invited to go down and have a try.

Stepping into the shop was like taking a trip back in time. The decor was charmingly old-fashioned, with tiled walls, wooden benches, and the unmistakable scent of freshly baked pies wafting through the air. Jordan, the owner, was incredibly friendly and welcoming, and the food was ready very quickly.

The star of the show was, of course, the pie. Encased in a golden, flaky pastry, the beef filling was tender and flavourful. The meat was seasoned to perfection, with the herby liquor brilliantly complementing the savoury taste of the pie.

READ MORE: The Essex all-inclusive resort named the best holiday park in UK

READ MORE: The new 'stylish' Essex restaurant with 'lovely food' that claims to be town's new 'top spot'

The pastry itself was just the right balance of crispy and soft, providing a satisfying texture that held the filling well without becoming soggy. What makes F. Cooke's stand out is that it offers a vegan pie in the form of a tasty soya mince, meaning that the eatery tends to a modern crowd while keeping its traditional history.

Accompanying the pie was a generous helping of creamy mashed potatoes. The mash was smooth and buttery, with just enough seasoning to enhance its natural flavour without overpowering the dish. The fact it was so good was not a surprise, as the pie shop said it uses only the highest quality potatoes which are locally sourced from Maldon Fruit Supplies.

One pie and one mash cost £5 - which is very reasonable considering the amount and quality of food that you get!

The combination of the pie, mash, and liquor created a brilliant blend of flavours and textures. Each element complemented the others, resulting in a meal that was both hearty and satisfying. Essex’s most traditional pie and mash shop, in my opinion, not only delivered on taste but also provided a cultural experience that is deeply rooted in East London’s culinary history.

Get more What's On news from EssexLive straight to your inbox for FREE