It’s been a long week and I’m tired, so to treat myself I decided I wanted to get pie and mash and have the most Vote Leave lunch imaginable- and where better than Manze’s, one of London’s oldest and most famous chains?
For the uninitiated, M Manze (named for Michele Manze, its Italian founder) is a small chain of pie shops dotted around London. The first, located in Bermondsey, has been there since 1902.
Since then, several other Manze’s have come and gone. At one point 14 of them were trading in the capital, now only three remain, including the original Bermondsey shop, one on Peckham High Street and another in Sutton.
I’m told in advance of my trip that I can expect Manze’s to be popular and to be a bit edgy. I opted to try out the Peckham branch, which was opened in 1927.
While it might not be as popular with celebs as the Tower Bridge shop ( David Beckham is famously a fan ), the vibe of the Peckham Manze’s is undeniably the same and punters regularly queue down the street for it.
A sign outside the shop instructs me to do various things I immediately forget when I walk in: use a fork and spoon, drench the meal in vinegar, and turn over the pie.
“Our busiest day is Saturday,” the nice lady behind the counter tells me. “Sometimes people queue all the way down there (gestures around the street corner). Sometimes they wait hours.”
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My weak Millennial body simply cannot handle the prospect of eels, as traditional as they might be, so I resolve to have a simple combo of pie, mash and liquor.
Pie-wise you get two choices: a mincemeat one or a vegan one with soya. Again, I backed down from the more interesting option here and went for mincemeat.
My meal was plated up in the most bizarre way I’ve ever seen – with the mash wiped on the side of the plate-like a creamy mountain range, the pie placed as far away from it as possible like they were bros in a hot tub.
I confess I have never had “liquor” before in my life and I was too embarrassed to ask what it was, so instead, I Googled it, whereafter I learned that it is in fact made of parsley – the more you know.
The liquor itself was dolloped in healthy quantities in the middle of the plate, so now it really did look like the other components were chilling five feet apart in a hot tub.
I took a seat while listening to the hum of the shop, watching the queue slowly gather outside as locals started their lunch break.
The vibe in the shop is very friendly and cute – I overhear a mum behind me reminiscing about how she used to come here as a child and I almost shed a tear into my pie.
As for the food itself, it’s safe to say it wasn’t the most appetising-looking meal I’ve ever laid eyes on. But it was really tasty (and at just under £6 it wasn’t overly spenny).
I ignored advice to double up on pies since Hot Girl Summer is approaching and I think one pie was pushing it as it is, but undeniably the pie was banging and the mash was creamy and tasted like clouds.
I can’t say I was a massive fan of the liquor to be honest, traditional though it might be.
Will I be going back to Manze’s, though? Yes, if only because I forgot to turn over the pie and I must know if this trick works.