'Slightly offbeat' - Starters at Pieminister, Leeds (Photo by the author)

FOOD & DRINK | Yes Pieminister… [Pieminister, Duncan Street, Leeds]

A grand entrance at Pieminister, Leeds (Photo by the author)

The corner plot of Duncan Street in Leeds seemed to become a new shop every few months until a pun-loving, one-note chain eatery took up residence there in 2015. ANNIKA JONES finds herself in The Thick of It… 

I’ve only heard good things about Pieminister and yet never felt compelled to visit. Assuming, like those before it, it wouldn’t last, three years on, it’s become a supper-time staple in the city. I’m not only wrong, but in the minority it seems.

“You’ve never been to Pieminister?” My boss asks, before telling me that not only has he eaten every pie on the menu, but they also catered his wedding. A wave of sadness hits me as I realise that I’ve never liked anything as much as this man likes pies, and off I go to become a fellow convert.

Pieminister, Leeds: 'a decent amount of booth seating' (Photo by the author)
Pieminister, Leeds: ‘a decent amount of booth seating’ (Photo by the author)

The venue has a decent amount of booth seating, and somehow manages to fit in a bar area too. From the outside it has always looked a little cramped, and with the dark decor it feels a little like the walls are closing in on you. This feeling is soon brushed aside by the sunny service, which was pretty much faultless throughout the evening.

'Slightly offbeat' - from the Starters Menu at Pieminister, Leeds (Photo by the author)
‘Slightly offbeat’ – from the Starters Menu at Pieminister, Leeds (Photo by the author)

The ‘small plates’ which serve as starters, offer some interesting options. We go for variety – Halloumi chips, pigs in blankets and spicy cauliflower. Three different cuisines on one board.  They make a perfectly edible, if slightly offbeat start to the meal.

The autumn menu offers up classic favourites like ‘Moo’ (steak and ale), alongside newer creations such as Saag Pie-neer. The real reboot here is the new menu option, ‘Fully Loaded’ which puts your pie centre-plate and surrounds it with loaded fries.

Heidi Hi at Pieminister, Leeds (Photo by the author)
Heidi Hi at Pieminister, Leeds (Photo by the author)

I opt for the Heidi – goats cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion, with El Toro loaded fries – braised beef, chorizo, jalapenos, olives and cheese sauce. If that seems like a lot of ingredients on one plate, you should know that there’s also gravy to be added.

While I’m sure that there were a lot of tasty, well cooked elements here, I was struggling to taste any of them all piled up on each other. I thought maybe I had simply chosen badly, but seeing my pie-loving friend struggling with her meal – a mushroom and asparagus pie, with the vegetarian loaded fries option – some seriously salty spiced cauliflower, curry sauce, pickles and sriracha, I knew it was a conceptual problem.

Pieminister has built a solid reputation on the quality of a single product. While I’m usually the first to applaud inventiveness, this particular attempt takes away from what should be the shining star of every meal there; the pie. I imagine if, like my boss, you’ve tried every option already and want to mix things up, this might appeal to you.

For me, on my first visit, a mouthful of goats cheese, beef and olive wasn’t really what I signed up for. Thankfully the option to keep it simple is still on the menu, and for Pieminister’s sake I hope won’t be retired anytime soon.

Annika Jones is theCV’s restaurant critic. She visited Pieminister in Leeds. For details or bookings, click here.

3 comments

  1. My suburb is simply swimming with new hospitality offerings. Fortunately we have the Roundhay irresponsible’s Maudlin O’Booze to keep us up to date with his reviews.

    Here he visits another outlet strong on pies

    New Pop-up café opens in Roundhay

    The Irresponsible is proud to announce the opening of a new pop-up cafe in Roundhay – the Larkhill Ladle situated in an abandoned garage off Larkhill Walk on the Brackenwood estate.

    The café has a distinctly authentic artisan ambience offering a range of commercially produced sliced white breads, Pukka and Wrights pies, processed meats together with a range of instant coffees. The café also sells a range of tinned meats, soups and fruits. “Fresh” meats are also occasionally available sourced from a man with a van.

    The crew of David and Charles, both local residents, also offer outside catering and are especially skilled in barbeques.

    When the Irresponsible’s catering correspondent, Maudlin O’Booze, attended with his companion the other day the two plastic garden chairs and table were occupied so he and his companion stood to consume his delightfully prepared spam fritters, baked beans and chips, sourced from a range of well- known economy outlets served with plastic cutlery and on a reusable paper plate.

    His companion partook of the poached egg on toast special. He found the egg to be delightfully dry but appealingly off set by the white toast beneath which was generously doused in full fat margarine.

    To follow he consumed a challengingly firm Arctic Roll offered straight from the fridge whilst his companion chose the boxed apple pie and bowl of custard.

    With two bottles of Coke and two Mellow Birds and Coffee Mate to take away the bill came to a comfortable £7.50.

    Due to demand the Ladle anticipates extending into an additional neighbouring property in the near future

    1. There will be some for whom the mere mention of these offerings will excite a Proustian rush and a push… Spam fritters replacing madeleines obviously…

      1. Maudlin continues his reviews to this day as does the Larkhill Ladle.

        The L L. now has a mobile outlet and has proved a major success at the North Leeds Food Festival

        For your amusement here is Maudlin’s review of Narratives Cafe in Oakwood which has now sadly closed (possibly for obvious reasons if Maudlin’s review is to be believed.

        New Authentic Food Café Opens in Oakwood.

        Maudlin O’Booze samples the fayre at Narratives Authentic Food café in Oakwood.

        Wandering out of Pooters after a late morning snifter I noticed what I thought was a new estate agents or solicitor’s office had opened on the parade. I should have realised as I stumbled over the IKEA wire backed chairs (so Festival of Britain) on the pavement outside that no this was some sort of new café.

        I peered unobtrusively to see what was going on and my polychromatic sunglasses darkened at the hi-gloss white, grey concrete floor and bent plywood interior glaring intensely under the spotlights. Some blurbling electronic sounds were being emitted from the concealed speakers in ceiling and store front. This was major change in interior styling from the shabby industrialism from Pooters.

        There didn’t seem to be much food on display and I could immediately appreciate from the lengths of the servers’ beards and razored hairstyles that this was not really aimed at my demographic but what the hell – who dares wins. I took a pew or rather sat on an excruciatingly hard mid-century scandi chair relieved somewhat with diagonally patterned habitat style cushion.

        There isn’t much on the menu, but all the ingredients are “authentically and sustainably sourced” from within five miles of the café. I gather that if you are rushing for the bus to get to work in the morning you can get homemade granola, yoghurt and maybe an open sandwich to go or perhaps eat in if you have more time. If you are not too early you have baked items from Joe’s Kitchen Door Bakers – if he has got up in time to do the baking: supplies can be a bit irregular.

        But I was in for lunch and the choice was exotic: a crisp of wild roses and Lidgett Lane allotment peas; rabbit ragu with peas, spinach and parsley; pigeon and bacon burgers with hedgehog puree and a game curry consisting of pigeon, hare, pheasant, squirrel and wild boar -all locally shot. All these dishes come with sourdough or rye bread and a green salad, again home baked or allotment sourced.

        For desert moss cooked in chocolate and mushroom fondant with sour cream from Mikes Creamery in Gledhow was available.

        To drink, in addition to the usual artisan coffees, herbal infusions, cold pressed juices, Gledhow Valley spring water was also available by the carafe.

        I chose the pigeon and bacon burgers as a main assured that the pigeon had been humanely netted on someone’s lawn and the pig had been hand reared at Meanwood Urban Farm. The burger rolls were offered seeded or unseeded and a glutton-free option was also available. The side salad was provided in pure white angular dish but eating out of it was a bit impractical.

        The burger was well formed and tasteful on the palate. The burger works particularly well as the sweet-smokiness of the bacon offsets the richness of the irony red pigeon meat to a treat.

        I’m not too sure what happened with the mushroom fondant as after a few minutes the room began to spin and the table in front of me began to get larger and larger. This was beginning to get a bit reminiscent of the bad acid trip that befell me at the Isle of White in 1970.

        As I began to make gesticulations I was ushered outside and laid out in the recovery position on the pavement trembling wildly. The last thing I heard mentioned as I was sedated in the ambulance was something about picking the wrong sort of mushrooms.

        Happy days.

        The site of Narratives is now home to a new uber chic celebrity cheffed macro- biotic outlet the “Brun Schiesse Kafe” which no doubt Maudlin will be visiting soon.

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