Sunday, 24 October 2010
Who ate all the pies?
Well at least I ate the ones on our Pub Pie Crawl through Rozelle and Balmain today.
Five friends sent out on a journey of pie discovery, traipsing the streets in the cold and rain to discover who is offering the best pie out of all the amazing pubs of Balmain and Rozelle.
As part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, pubs around Sydney are offering a pint of Coopers Pale Ale and a special pie for $20.
I’d already tried the beef and mushy peas pie from the Lord Nelson Brewery, but today was an attempt on the six pies offered in the Balmain and Rozelle area.
Our first stop, the London Hotel and their Lamb Shank Pie, was vetoed by Jonas and M.E. who both don’t like lamb. Boo hoo. I love lamb. Oh well.
And unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t try the Rabbit & Porcini Pie at Dicks Hotel. Another missed opportunity as later a waitress at our winning pie pub told us Dick’s pie is also particularly good.
From the four pies we tried, every pie was given a score out of 5, as voted by me, Jonas, M.E., Shamu and Tombolina, with the highest possible score a perfect 25.
We had some generous voters (Shamu) and some harsh voters (M.E.). Here are the results.
Wild Hare Pie (9.5 out of 25)
3 Weeds (193-197 Evans St, Rozelle)
With all the praise lavished on the 3 Weeds bistro, this was the pie that I thought would be the best. Surprisingly, it turned out to be the worst.
It looked delicious, a huge oval of golden pastry, but one you stabbed into this pot pie with a fork the pastry lid turned out to be very thin and inside was a shallow layer of watery stew rather than thick gravy and meat.
In fact, of the two pies we shared each had only one small fragment of hare meat and the rest of the filling was made up of carrot and potato.
The boys did say the carrot and hare combo got a point for irony, but overall it was a poor effort and very disappointing for such a renowned foodie pub.
Pale Little Duck Pie (15.5 out of 25)
Royal Oak Hotel (36 College St, Balmain)
This was our first stop and the pie was completely encased in perfectly cooked pastry. The interior was dense with shredded duck meat that wasn’t at all runny.
It was very well presented, atop a mountain of mash and spinach leaves and although it was good, it’s didn’t hit you in the face with flavour.
Shamu and I really liked this pie for its subtly (Shamu rated it her second favourite), whereas Tombolina, M.E. and Jonas wanted more of a flavour smackdown.
Coopie Chicken Pie (19 out of 25)
Welcome Hotel (91 Evans St, Rozelle)
This one really hit the spot. We cooed over the huge pot pie covered with thick, flaky pastry and a side of cream sweet corn.
Once we broke through to the filling we were met with gooey, oozing cheese-smothered chicken. It was delicious.
The serve was very generous, so the boys liked it, but Shamu got a few mouthfuls of gristle so that took a few points off.
Berkshire Pork & Apple Cider Pie (22 out of 25)
The Riverview Hotel (29 Birchgrove Rd, Balmain)
This was our winner!
We came to the Riverview just after 3pm and were turned away as the kitchen had closed for lunch service. It was a bit upsetting watching the tasty-looking pie being served to other tables and initially we had this pub down as “pie fail”, but after our disappointing 3 Weeds experience we trekked back to the Riverview to give it a go.
I’m glad we did. Everyone unanimously gave it their top score.
The pie was very beautifully presented with mash and mushy pies, and a blob of wonderful Dijon mustard on the side.
The pastry was crusty on top but softer on the sides, and once you broke into the centre a luscious aroma of pork wafted out. The filling was chunky, flecked with darker pink pieces of ham and moist and sweet from the apple cider. A perfect match to the mustard.
It was a gourmet pie and tasted truly superb, definitely worth $20. Even if it was smaller than the chicken pie, the flavour was much more sophisticated.
22 oinks and our winner!
If you want to go on your own Rozelle & Balmain pie pub crawl, here’s a helpful Google map to help you make it happen. You’ve got one more week and one more weekend to do it!
View 2010 Pub Pie Crawl in a larger map