Thursday, 12 February 2009

Of pies and water snakes...

I hardly get the opportunity to come here. Glad to be back.
Broadway Market on Saturdays is busy as hell, but this restaurant is quiet as such. I find it incredulous that people keep popping their noses in and walking out again, was it due to eels on the menu or they’re too aloof to share the hard benches with the London cabbies. Very sad.

Pie 'n' Mash

£2.20 for the mince meat pie, £1.00 for the mash and 60p for a cup of builder’s. The liquor (the green stuff) is thrown in at no extra charge. I’m not claiming that this dish is the most delicious ever, but it’s entirely edible* and I’m doing my best to uphold one of London’s last foodie heritages.

*I was imprisoned in a boarding school for a number of years hence the tolerance.


Do yourselves a favour, give this place a go. By doing that, you can then claim that you've done your bit for London.

Surely your're not
Not going to do what

Bloody eat the water snake and sogged up moosh

What, you mean pie and mash

Yea and the water snake

Oh the eel, yes I'm going for that as well

Bloody disgoostin', all I can say good riddance to your fookin' goots.

That was the conversation I had with my friend Steve this morning. Steve is an almighty pain in the butt; he's a Northerner and a vegan. I love to wind him up and my intended 'dinner' today drove the stake in further. Frankly he was surprised that pie shops like this still exist in the East End.

Bob Cooke
There’s no better place to eat the traditional London working class food of pie, mash and stewed eels than F.Cooke in Hackney.

The interior is a testament to what pie shops are supposed to be like; unfazed and unperturbed, it’s as if the 21st century has been denied all access here. Tiled walls, hard benches and stained (or unwiped) marble tables facilitate the completion of this wonderful London institution. The diners I noticed were if I’m not wrong, entirely white Eastenders, think black cab drivers or Pauline Fowler from the eponymous soap. Yes I stood out, and my announcement to the owner I was simply a tourist from Marble Arch raised a few chuckles.

My full monty on the plate. The green stuff to the uninitiated is the liquor (pronounced the Yankee way as in licker)- vivid green sauce made from eel stock and parsley. So what did the whole caboodle taste like?

Well as indicated by the pix, it was undeniably stodgy and pretty plain. The whole plate benefited from a generous dousing of malt vinegar and shakes of white pepper. The eel, a wonderful fish in its own right and ultimately less fishy and oily tasting than let’s say mackerel, provided the much-needed umami. The mash was lumpy (don’t mind that, this is not Masterchef you know) and the meat pie was pukka enough to gain Jamie’s approval. This is hearty stuff at best, there're more than enough carbs and proteins to last the rest of the day.

Of course I’m coming back, I’m a Londoner and this kind of tuck needs to be supported and preserved. This is undisputedly foodie heritage. It’s good, honest and unpretentious, if one’s squeamish about the ‘water snake’, stick to the pie and mash. Excellent experience- been here, done that. Recommended, unreservedly.
PS Vegan Steve, the fruit pie is a good safe bet, nowt contaminated.

Hand written and autographed receipt from Bob as the cash register ran out of paper-

9 Broadway Market

London E8 4PH


Anonymous said...


Do you know where to find different Snake wine ? I already own this one:

Thanks for help.

(by the way I found your website on Google when looking for Snake wine bottles)

bellaphon said...

Friend- I don't do snakes, eels are my limit!

Anonymous said...

Hello, loving the blog, just came across it yesterday and found that I had been at at least 3 of these cafes on the same day. Great minds..? Seeing you have recently been by Broadway market, i though i would suggest the Vietnamese coffee stand. The iced coffee (ca phe sua da) is made with condensed milk and, dare i say it, is the best i've ever tasted. I'd be interested to see if you agree. Also, it's not really on your turf, but want to put in a shout for a set of struggling baristas who own a tiny mobile van down on Strutton Ground in Westminster. The coffee isn't quite flat white, but ask for the Sha Karato. I think it may be their own creation and they are still refining it, but it's great on a hot day.
Looking forward to trying out some of your recommendations. S

bellaphon said...

S- Thank you for stopping by and yes, the whole point of my trip to BM was Ca Phe itself. I shall be posting the review soon, the sandwiches were a lovely surprise as well. All great minds aspire to caffeine fixes :)

Mal said...

There's a new Pie and Mash website at . It has a full listing (with details) of every known P&M shop and you can review and rate your favourites (and unfavourites). There's tons of information about pie and mash and you can share your memories with other like minded pie'n'mashers.