In recent weeks, I have devised a foolproof way of figuring out whether someone is clinically insane. Simply send them a message stating that it is going to snow next week, and assess their response. Those who seem excited at the prospect of frostbitten fingers, slippery roads and general anarchy, are, without a doubt, either a violent sadist, or a raging lunatic.
After two rounds of winter warfare with the “Beast From The East”, I think that I have had more than enough of the snow, ice, and muck. (Granted, it may just be a case of jealousy, given that I tend to dislike anything that is colder and harsher than my own dead heart). On the plus side however, a bout of terrible weather is almost always a valid excuse for some hot and fattening comfort food, and with another round of snow potentially on its way, I saw fit to consume the greatest winter food of them all – PIE.
Situated on Upton Lane, Pie Republic first opened their doors in 2014, and in the years since, have diligently provided the East End with a range of British and Asian-fusion pies. To tickle our appetites, we began with a plate of “Cox Bazar Samosas”, purported to contain a filling of chicken, baked beans, melted cheese and coriander, all in a bhoot jolokia sauce. Though crisp and flavoursome, the light samosas – in my opinion, weren’t particularly memorable, though Steak thoroughly enjoyed them.
Cox Bazar Samosas (£4)
After eyeing up the various pies, I opted for the “Hakka” – a shortcrust pastry pie filled with lamb, rosemary, garlic, and diced carrots and potatoes. After slicing it open with the same lack of precision I display in my surgery, the shortcrust pastry revealed a perfectly crisp and buttery texture, which soaked up the rich and savoury filling that oozed out from within it. I would however, have liked to have seen a more generous helping of lamb.
Hakka Pie (£8) *Recommended*
It must also be noted that the mash potato I ordered to accompany my pie possessed a rather limp and grainy texture, which made me question whether it was of the “instant mash” variety. The house slaw however, was sharp and creamy, and texturally, it contrasted well with the hakka pie.
Steak meanwhile, had opted for a “Shepherd of Shimla” – a traditional Shepherd’s pie with a dash of South-Asian spice. Fortunately, the cheese-infused layer of mash potato here was most certainly the real deal, and we happily dug our way through its thick and smooth texture. Naturally, the potato blended seamlessly into the bed of mincemeat that lay beneath it, and although it wasn’t particularly spicy, this was rather welcomed, as the subtlety of the heat and spice did well to complement, rather than overpower the savoury mash.
Shepherd of Shimla (£8)
Value For Money 4/5
Across the menu, starters cost around £4, whilst pies and other main dishes (i.e burgers or fish and chips), cost around £7. Our own bill meanwhile, amounted to £20 for two. As such, Pie Republic is certainly a “cheap and cheerful” eatery, and you should find that the calibre of the food is more than reasonable for the price that you pay.
Service is also prompt and courteous, and if you’re as violently ravenous as I am – fear not, you shouldn’t be waiting too long for a plate of freshly-baked pie.
Decor / Ambience: 3/5
As a restaurant, Pie Republic is as simple and as rustic as the very pies on its menu, with bare brick walls and industrial lighting, all of which ensures that the dining space feels thoroughly casual. The nearest station is perhaps Forest Gate, and parking can be found on adjacent residential roads, although, restrictions apply Monday to Friday, until 6:30pm.
Ultimately, there is nothing spectacular or breathtaking about Pie Republic or their food, and frankly, there isn’t any need for there to be either. The humble British pie is exactly that, and Pie Republic is nothing more than a cheap and cheerful East End eatery that does well to provide a simple bite of “East End grub”.
Halal status: All the meat served here is halal and HMC-approved.
Address: 80 Upton Lane, Forest Gate, London, E7 9LW.
Telephone: 0208 552 8245