I first heard about PieMinister opening in Cardiff when someone commented on my blog post about the emergence of a ‘craft beer quarter’ in Cardiff city centre. Pies and beer! A match made in heaven, they suggested. What I didn’t admit at the time is that I had already foolishly dismissed Pie Minister in my head, assuming it would be an uninspiring junk food outlet for the post-rugby and pre-nightclub masses. Nothing to be excited about – or so I thought.
I finally succumbed to the lure of the pie on a Friday lunchtime at work. I was a little hung-over, more than a little tired, and had been repeatedly and enthusiastically reminded by the girls in work that the pies at PieMinister were totes amaze. In the end I caved, and went to see what the fuss was about. Surely pie and mash in less than 10 minutes couldn’t be that great? Hopefully they’d have something veggie I could sink my teeth into.
The décor was my first big surprise. Exposed brick, low hanging bulbs, beautiful, shiny, white ceramic tiles. Everything from the font on the menus to the quirky poster-art on the walls in the basement is tasteful and beautifully finished. The giant light-bulb lettering spelling out PIES above the door was like a beacon to my fragile Friday state. I was starting to like the idea of spending my lunch hour in pie-heaven, especially if it looked this good.
A quick glance at the menu further excited me; all of PieMinister’s pies are made with 100% British free-range meat. From venison, to pork, to beef to chicken, it was lovely having the freedom to choose whatever I fancied from the menu rather than what I knew to be the most ethical choice (which sadly almost always limits me to the veggie options). Oh, but speaking of vegetarian options, they are pretty tasty-looking too – with mushroom, cream and asparagus if you’re feeling starving, or from the lighter (read: lidless) range, a butternut squash, feta and tomato creation.
After much deliberation (and consideration of just how much carbohydrate I could digest and remain awake at my desk for the rest of the afternoon), I chose the ‘Chickalito’ pie from the lighter menu – a delicious free range chicken and dry cured ham pie with little pine nuts in it, and only 440 calories. I paired this with a side order of superfood slaw, and headed back to my desk to unbox. The pie was lovely. Light buttery pastry, and a really meaty, flavoursome filling which wasn’t too dense or rich. The lidless nature of the lighter pies really makes them seem like a quiche to me, but that’s not a bad thing. The superfood slaw I had with my pie was really nothing special, but it was also nothing to complain about, and made me feel a little less guilty bout scoffing a pie from a box at one in the afternoon, sober!
It’s safe to say I have been thoroughly converted to a pie-loving disciple of PieMinister, so much so that I have since returned with the other half to sample a ‘Moo Pie’ and mash, which is made with British beef steak and Seven Ale from the Bristol Beer Factory (near to where all of the PieMinister pies are created). On a Friday evening, after a 9 hour shift in work, there really was nothing more comforting, except maybe the glass of red I washed it down with and the feeling of taking my heels off under the table! All hail PieMinister – welcome to Cardiff.