Apart from crisps, scratchings, and any cocktail with more than three olives, pub food pretty much revolves around the noble pie, and rightly so. So while keeping a sort of purist stance -- that is, without running into gastro territory (surely they’re just restaurants with a bar?) -- we’ve figured out the seven best pub pies in the city, and what to drink with them...
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The Guinea Grill Mayfair What you're getting: Steak & Mushroom Pie Pair it with: Courage Directors Sister to the multi-time pie champion, The Windmill, the Guinea's been around since 1423 (!!!). In fact, when it opened, it wasn't technically in London, as the city limits didn't extend out as far as Mayfair yet. Part of the Young's group since 1888, they may be better known for their steaks (hence the name "grill"), but it's their multi-award winning pies that're the real winners here.
The Newman Arms Soho What you're getting: Lamb & Mint w/ a suet pastry casing Pair it with: Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter You'll find this W1 institution on an alleyway corner tucked off Oxford St -- having been built since 1730, they’ve had a few different uses though the years (ironmonger, picture framer, brothel... basically the usual), but wisely settled on tavern in 1860. The fact that they have an actual "pie room" upstairs should serve as a clue as to the quality of their crust, which you can pair with their pretty vast selection of beer.
The Windmill Mayfair The greatest pie: Three-time national champion Steak and Kidney Pie Pair it with: Young’s Special Sure, the neighborhood may be home to upper crust (!), but nestled amongst them, these guys take their love of pies to a whole new level. Pie room? Naturally. Pie Club, w/ 6000 members? Sure, why not. Pie-centric YouTube channel, geeking out on recipes?! Man, these guys take this stuff seriously.
The Old Bank of England City What you're getting: The cock-a-leekie Pair it with: Organic Honey Dew This decadently decorated drinkery is housed in the former Law Courts branch of the Bank of England, but what you really want to know is that it's also smack dab on top of the tunnels between the site of Sweeney Todd's barber shop and Mrs. Lovett's pie shop. The pies they sell, however, are proudly corpse-free and completely delicious, most notably their version of the all-too-rare traditional cock-a-leekie.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese City What you're getting: Steak & Onion Shepard’s Pie Pair with it: Sam Smith’s Imperial Stout While there has been a pub on this site since 1538 (stop and think about that for a sec), this particular building has a long and storied history of feeding/watering some of literature's greatest minds (like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and W.B. Yeats to name a few). The Cheese is made up of a collection of dark passageways and rooms, inside of which you can find one of the finest pastry-wrapped treats in London.
The Betsey Trotwood Clerkenwell What you're getting: Chicken & Tarragon Pair it with: Hürlimann Sternbrau This neighborhood pub has some serious moves going on. With a surprisingly intimate venue space for gigs in the cellar, and a very chilled but charming upstairs bar, The Betsey is a bit of an all-in-one deal. The pies themselves actually come from Borough Market, but even though they're not technically making them themselves, we'll allow it on grounds of deliciousness.
The Royal Oak Borough What you're getting: Vegetable & Stilton Pair it with: Wild Hops Tucked on a little corner off Borough High St sits this teeny traditional Victorian pub. Being run by the brewers over at Harvey’s, you can expect a good selection of first-class brews (including a decent number of seasonal favorites), as well as food to match -- the menu is extremely pie heavy, and the pies themselves are pretty heavy, being about the size of you head.