POSH PIES FOR THE UPPER CRUST; We Lift the Lid on the Latest Grub to Go Gourmet and Find the Tastiest Fillings Around
Byline: HILARY ARMSTRONG
... PIES are going posh on us. Hot on the heels of the elevation of burgers and pizzas to " gourmet" status comes the latest humble foodstuff in line for a makeover. But banish all thoughts of Sienna being papped leaving Greggs with a meal deal, or Kate Middleton tucking into pie'n'mash in the East End.
You don't have to be posh to enjoy the new breed of A-list pies; you just have to like posh restaurants. For these days, no swanky new restaurant dares open its doors without a tartedup pie on the menu.
There's been much talk about the pie menu at Bumpkin (209 Westbourne Park Road W11, 020 7243 9818, bumpkinuk.com), the smart four-floor restaurant in Notting Hill for "city folk who like a little country living".
Figuring my friends and I would fit in quite nicely, we went to give these upwardly mobile pies a go.
The ground-floor brasserie offers a nice selection, with "Pots and Pies" all available for one or two to share.
There's Desperate Dan's Favourite Cow Pie, a Classic Fish Pie (both [pounds sterling]9 starter/[pounds sterling]12.50 main course) and even a vegetarian option filled with spinach, wild mushroom and Parmesan ([pounds sterling]7/[pounds sterling]10).
But the biggest seller, according to manager Dariush Nejad, is the old-fashioned Cornish classic, Charter Pie - a creamy chicken, leek and bacon number.
If that's good enough for W11's finest, it was good enough for us. For an extra lah-de-dah touch, we also took Dariush's suggestion of a crisp and aromatic Albarino, at [pounds sterling]28 a bottle, to wash it down. Here, to have a pie and a pint didn't seem quite right somehow.
How right we were. Bumpkin's pies aren't the kind you find in a pub. They're elegant little things served individually in bijou rustic pots.
Purists will scoff they're more "fillings-with-a-lid", but such is often the way of the fancy pie.
There's also no dodging the size issue: smart pies tend to be small. But what you get for your [pounds sterling]9 is a well-packed dish of topnotch free-range chicken and bacon from north London butcher Frank Godfrey. With its rich, creamy sauce flavoured with leeks and herbs under a crisp golden disc of pastry, it's quality stuff and more filling than it looks.
The mash is good too, suitably "potato-ey" and rustic. We still had room for pudding - one of the advantages of a petite pie - so upped our carbs with some traditional sticky toffee pudding and apple crumble served with proper runny custard.
So how do know if your pie is an A-list pie? Well, rather like a must-have handbag from Chloe, it helps if your pie has a name known only by the cognoscenti.
Bumpkin's Charter Pie ticks that box, as does the Stargazy Pie at Scott's (20 Mount Street W1, 020 7495 7309). The Stargazy's got everybody talking, a traditional Cornish fish pie named after the pilchards' heads p o p p i n g through the c r u s t t owards the firmam e n t ([pounds sterling]10. …