The pies have it!

By on January 22, 2009

It’s still winter, and yes the weather is pretty torrid, but as with all weather conditions there is always a dish to match it. Look at summertime, it’s really the only time we as a nation eat salads, at times grudgingly. So it will come as no surprise that during the darker, colder days we seek out comfort food, filling and warming dishes that lift the spirits and maintain our purpose as humans, as we march on towards spring.

The Cross Keys Hotel on King Street has, over the years, seen many chefs pass though its doors. We may not be talking about high dining here, or Michelin starred performances, but each kitchen tennant has provided their own special, well honed dish that has drawn people to dine there. More recently it appears that The Keys (as affectionately know by locals and regulars) has been regulalry magnetizing a secret army of eaters with their unbelievable Steak and Ale pies.

An inch thick triangle of crusty suet pastry and mouthwatering steak zipped past me to a waiting diner who, I noticed, had been tracking it all the way from the kitchen. Unmasked joy beamed from the patron who, with knife and fork in either fist, stared down at the pie, peas and gravy in anticipation of the £7 taste sensation.

Popularity for the pie has grown steadily since last year, and even whilst we were sitting there people were reserving pies over the telephone. According to landlord Andrew Burke, “They are full of meat, and they are good value for money. As more people are tightening their belts we think that the pie will make people slacken them off a bit, if you get me meaning.” It was clear to see that more than 60% of orders that lunchtime were pie lovers fuelling their culinary addction.

Sue Whitehead creator of the much loved Steak and ale pie has been delivering consistently good “Home Cooked” fayre for over four years. With no formal training her Pies are the profits of great home cooking and the ideal sustenance you would expect to find in a family run pub. Sue has a strong sense of “pie pride” as each one created with local ingredients without any compromise to flavour or quality.

There is no doubt that The Cross Keys have something quite unique here, and its great to see that such a classic dish is maintained to a high standard with real personality and passion included into it’s creation. Although I have eaten them before and enjoyed every single mouthfull, i missed out today.

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