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The Waiting Rooms, Newcastle

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 newcastle

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.

waiting-rooms-mothership-pieminister

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.

waiting rooms pork platter

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.

Contact: thewaitingroomsnewcastle.co.uk

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