When it comes to food, often the simplest of delights are those that truly inspire.
I remember watching one of the ever-present food shows on our TV screens where a celebrity chef sorted out a restaurant by uncomplicating the vast and ambitious menu.
There was a scene that lasted no more than a few seconds that truly resonated. The chef offered a piece of advice, which summed up where so many places go wrong.
Basically, it’s not what you serve, it’s the quality. Good fish and chips is GOOD fish and chips. Good steak is GOOD steak.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, GOOD pies.
Pieminister, based at Trentham Retail Village, just up the road from Stone, is a fabulous place for pie-lovers.
It’s a simple concept. Much like the pie shops of yore, this little gem offers combinations based around flavoursome stuffed pastries. And if you are not a fan of pies, the sausage rolls and luxury scotch eggs are mighty fine too.
But hey, let us deal with its eponymous mainstays.
Pieminister is situated in the foodcourt area of the retail village, with heated outside seating in addition to its inside covers.
It’s quite retro inside, tipping a hat perhaps to the pie shops that dominated high streets all those years ago.
So, find a table and enter the cabin and select your food and drink.
There are some great pies to choose from, with combinations that suit vegetarians as well as meat-packed treats. See my menu sample for some of the many varieties available.
From the glass fronted display I chose Moo & Blue pie – a rich steak and stilton filling – and upgrade my meal to the curiously titled Mothership.
Basically, I bolted on loads of extras. It’s a bit like ordering a BMW. You get the basic model and then bling it up.
By converting my meal to the said Mothership, I added creamy mash, minty mushy peas, gravy, cheddar cheese and crispy shallot pieces.
It was superb and for £7.95 – yes, £7.95 – it is quite possibly the nicest pie and mash combination I have eaten. Beautiful pastry, chunks of meat and tasty sauce. Fab stuff.
You don’t have to go mad and spend the best part of £8. My partner Mandy’s option – called the Faithful – adds mash and gravy to your pie of choice for the princely sum of £6.50. You really can’t go wrong.
Mandy’s pie, the Heidi, is suitable for vegetarians and contains Somerset goats’ cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion pie. Obviously, if you are a vegetarian, don’t pour the gravy over.
With a large bottle of Stella Artois (£3) and Titanic White Star (£3.50) – yes, it is licensed – the bill came in at just over £20. Next time you are in the Trentham area, look it up. It really is worth a visit.
By Paul Naylor