Long Bar + Pies.
Not a one I’d normally do, given that The Waiting Rooms (39-47 Westgate Road, NE1 5EN) is really just another central station bar. You’ll remember it as Long Bar which closed a couple of months back, but it’s now owned by large pub chain Bermondsey Pub Co. It was never my #1 choice for a bevvy, bit of a middle-aged crowd, but they’ve given it that oh-so-2017 refit – bare wood, bit of neon signage, focus on gins. Apart from some for-working hotdesks(?), it’s very cookie cutter and inoffensive, but a definite improvement on what was a bit of a Jagerbombs-only watering hole.
But this is what got me interested.
Pieminister, in case you missed the last fifteen years, are purveyors of some of the UK’s finest mass-market pies. They started on the food festival circuit, found their way into Waitrose, opened a few dedicated pie joints down South, and now we finally have access to them in NCL. Bloody good pies they are too.
I’m a big fan of Pieminister‘s own outfits and a bit surprised that they haven’t yet opened one North of Leeds (bloody Southerners…). They’re super-simple, and offer perfect post-beverage carbs. Their closest local approximation is probably Redhouse? Solid pies, mash, gravy, and just stick to what you’re good at. So I’m surprised to see them appear in a random pub in town. EDIT: although now I’ve had a look, they’re actually available at Thirsty Souls in Durham too – another Bermondsey pub).
As per Redhouse, it’s £6.50 for a pie, and there are offers with various sides and drinks. Just go for “The Mothership” (below, £11.50). We’d been drinking dirty steins at Bierkeller the night before, so this much stodge was essential.
You can imagine how good this looked to my inebriated eyes. Pie, mash, peas, cheese, fried onion bits, gravy. Hangover begone!
The range of pies are all winners – lots of steak, chicken, and some decent veggie ones. They’ve got a winning combo of a good snappy pastry with plentiful, rich and above all, tasty fillings. There’s some open-lid type pies like a fish pie and a cottage pie which I’ve not yet tried but will endeavour to.
They’ve only been open a couple of weeks so I’ll give them a free pass, but despite their best efforts, getting served and ordering food was a bit of a nightmare. Definite teething problems.
The £10 pork platter is a sausage roll (5/10), pork scratchings (decent, though missing the advertised apple sauce), and pigs in blankets. These were ‘unavailable’, so what must be their own super-thick cut crisps made a lacklustre substitution – again, lacking several of the bits. Dipping sauce was funky, and not in a good way. Not worth a tenner.
Unfortunately, the mothership just didn’t live up to my memory of the Manchester Pieminister. I think the pie had been sat around for a long time. I mean it still tasted great, but the pastry had gone a tad flabby. As had the mash (which seemed to be served out of a gastronorm from behind the bar… ??) which was lumpy and starchy, as were peas. And while I sometimes like my gravy to have the texture of PVA glue, I know others may not. Still wolfed it down, but it just wasn’t peak Pieminister. I wonder what (if any) QC Pieminister are doing on companies selling their pies? For a 1PM Saturday visit, I’d question just how long it had all been sat out for.
So a bit of an almost-there for The Waiting Rooms. If they can get their game together, having availability of Pieminister pies is only A Good Thing, and I’ll no doubt succumb and give it another go soon. But for now, give them a few weeks to get their act together a bit.
Food hygiene rating: Not yet rated