Everyone loves a good pie, right? I’m pretty sure that there’s some sort of prerequisite that in order to be deemed a true Brit you have to declare your love of hearty pies at some point in your life. And if, as I suspect, you do love a good pie (with the obligatory side of mash and gravy), then surely a food venue with the rather pun filled name of ‘Pieminister’ is going to appeal to your appetite? It certainly appeals to mine at any rate, and when Pieminister very kindly asked me if I would like to come in and have a pie as well as sample their new soft scoop ice creams, I was more than eager to comply.
Pieminister is located pretty handily in the centre of Cardiff, nestled on Saint Mary Street close to a few other food venues. It looks nice enough from the outside, with the classic black and white signage and a sprinkling of rather ‘hipster’ naked light bulbs (which I personally love!). Various signs declare ‘Award winning Pies’, and such a statement feels believable when you see the frequent groups of people sitting down to eat. There’s also a nice little outside seating area which is perfect for the rare sunny weather we’ve been experiencing as of late.
The decor inside has a similar feel to the outside aesthetic, with dark grey and black wood panelling and exposed brick work (another restaurant trend as of late). It should feel pretty dark inside but the space has been left nice and open, and the myriad of yet more exposed light bulbs and low handing lampshades results in quite a dainty almost fairylight-esque festival feel.
The menu, as you would imagine, focuses primarily on the great classic that is the pie in all its many types of glory. They have all the classic filling such as Steak and ale and chicken, ham and leek, as well as some more unusual options such as the ‘Saag Pie-Neer’. If pies aren’t your thing, they also do skillet options which are free of pastry and baked in a cast iron pan. They do some of the standard side dishes, including mash and minty peas, as well as what they call ‘super sides’ for the likes of skin on fried, macaroni and cheese and salt and pepper onion rings.
What’s great about this restaurant is that they offer different meal packages to suit your hunger and preference. Both myself and my partner actually went for the ‘Classic Pie Meal’, which included a pie and a side for the reasonable price of £7.95. If we’d been more peckish we would probably have gone with ‘The Feast’, which gives you a classic pie, two sides and a stick (such as onions rings) for £9.95.
I actually fancied something a bit different once I had perused the menu, and as I’m not a massive meat eater anyway I decided on the vegetarian ‘Heidi’ pie (Goat’s cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion) with my side being their smoky baked beans (a personal favourite). I have no shame in saying that the first thing I checked once the pie was before me was its bottom. I can honestly say that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood can fear not, for the pastry was cooked to perfection, with a crispy outer shell which avoided the dreaded soggy bottom pitfall. Upon cutting into my pie it was pretty clear to see that it had a great amount of filling, something which is essential in any kind of pie! The flavours were exactly what I had hoped for, with the sweetness of the potato balancing out perfectly with the tang of the goats cheese. The texture was quite soft and almost creamy, which I think worked with the crispy flakiness of the pie. I was also pretty impressed that the sweet potato hadn’t just turned into a pile of mush, but had actually retained its form in places, making it feel more of a proper filling as opposed to just another version of mashed potato. I would have liked more red onion, as I couldn’t really taste it or feel the crunchy texture, but overall this dish did not disappoint.
I am a firm lover of smoky baked beans, and my chef boyfriend is forever making them for me in various forms. These were actually very enjoyable, with quite thick beans alongside some chucky pieces of onion and chopped veg. The texture of this worked well against the actual smoothness of the sauce, with the tang of tomato and the smokiness of the bbq creating a marriage made in heaven. This dish also come with a small boat of gravy, which did actually have a pretty decent richness of flavour which I hadn’t expected, although I would have liked it a bit thicker as it was almost the same consistency of water. I did pour some over my pie but I don’t think that the richness worked particularly well with tangy goats cheese, the side of baked beans being a much better option.
My other half, being a staunch meat lover, opted for the ‘Hurrikane Pie’, which was a British beef steak & potato pie with red wine, roast red peppers and smoked paprika. He seemed reasonable impressed, citing great flavour from the meat as well as softness in texture. He thought the addition of the peppers and paprika complimented nicely the classic combination of steak and potato, giving an added bit of punchy flavour. Naturally I also had to check his pie for the dreaded soggy bottom and was pleased to find it as crisp as mine. My other half stayed more classic than myself and opted for the mash potato as his side. Presentation wise I don’t think it was necessarily the cleanest of ways to serve it, with the pile being pretty firmly pressed down into the mash, almost obscuring all evidence that it was actually there. I did also think that the mash to pie ration was a bit out, but we weren’t massively hungry so this didn’t pose to much of a problem. I did sample some of the mash and it was surprisingly light and fluffy, working well with the gravy for the additional moisture.
We also shared a side of Macaroni and Cheese, which I was really intrigued by considering this a place which focuses on pies and not forms of cheesy pasta. It was nice to see that effort had gone into this dish, with the creaminess of the sauce not quite overpowering the presence of the cheese. The pasta was cooked well, still having a tiny bit of bite and avoiding the mushy mess of some Mac n Cheese.
Of course, we couldn’t leave this meal without sampling part of the reason we were really here; to try their new ‘Soft Scoop Sundaes’ made with fresh organic milk. There was a surprising array of flavours, with everything from the classic ‘Lemon meringue pie’ and ‘Apple pie’ to the more daring ‘Pork pie’. My boyfriend opted for the more refreshing sounding ‘Strawberry Blonde’, which was comprised of strawberry ice-cream, fresh strawberries, strawberry sauce and whipped cream. I think a lot of people are put off strawberry flavoured things because of the quite synthetic overly sweet flavour which it is often associated with. I was so thankful that this wasn’t the case here, as the strawberry was actually quite tangy which cut through a lot of the sweetness which the sauce and cream would otherwise have presented. We did really enjoy the novelty of having the sundae served in a little pie crust made of wafer, and I think it was all fairly sized for £4.50. It certainly wasn’t the easiest thing to photograph however, with the unfortunate phallic shape, but it did definitely amuse us for a good few minutes!
We both really enjoyed out visit to Pieminister and I think that if you are in any way a lover of pies you should definitely make this somewhere to tick off your list. I know we both now have our eyes firmly on their bottomless brunch menu!
The staff were all very friendly, although they could have been a tad faster in giving us the bill and such, but as my boyfriend states I am quite an impatient person! The addition of the ‘Soft Scoop Sundaes’ can only be a good thing with the weather hopefully heating up, and what better way to finish a classic meal of pie and mash with a classic summer dessert of ice cream!
Disclaimer – We were very kindly invited by the team at Pieminister to try their new soft scoop sundaes. Both the dessert and one of the pies was complimentary. We paid ourselves for the second pie, our side dish and all drinks.