Another day, another eating adventure. Ordinarily, I would think that a soft pie with gummy mash covered in a radio-active green parsley sauce with a side of jellied eels sounded unappealing. This time though, the little elderly lady that was serving it too me was so adorable, (in a tough East London sort of way) that I had to let it go.
I awwwwed and she took the slightly soggy pie out of the old school heater and slapped it on the plate. Smiled as she scooped a lump of mash out of a big vat and threw it down next to the pie, scraping it out of the spoon on the edge of the plate. I didn’t even grimace when it all got drowned in the sauce, that looked like green and tasted of nothing. If you want to pay this place a visit, you’d better like pie, mash and jellied eels, because that’s all you’re getting. (For mains anyway).
My friend had the side of eel, and I must admit I did shudder a little as I watched it wobble. Grey and slimy, with a knobbly spine that had to be spat out at intervals. On a bed of translucent and undoubtedly unappealing jelly. I’m not convinced he was all that rapt in it either. I viewed the scene of him eating in mild disbelief. He covered the eel in an inordinate amount of salt and chili vinegar, and slurped his way through it. Full points for giving it a go. The pie oozed watery liquid as I broke in to it, and the contents did feel a bit like something out of an era of austerity. I couldn’t tell you if the pie crust was crunchy, because it swam in so much green and brown that the crunch of the crust, much like the place itself, was something akin to a representation of the past.
All things considered, and despite it being rather the antithesis of gourmet, visiting this place was such fun. A looking glass in to by-gone days, and an experience. It probably hasn’t changed in it’s style (or staff!) in a hundred years. Which is great! I think it’s important that these places continue to exist among the changing landscape of social development. As long as you didn’t go there for the food.
I have to give them full points for the second pie. Fresh from the oven, it was hot and homely and delicious. Real genuine English comfort food. Cherry, with a sugary lid and two giant scoops of vanilla. I even enjoyed all the burnt bit around the edges. I wasn’t sorry to have the second pie at all. If I ever go again, I will go there just for that.
I probably won’t make a pilgrimage back there any time soon, though I did enjoy the experience. It’s an opportunity to time travel, and you don’t even need to be a time traveler. All you need to do is walk through the front door.
Address: 9 Broadway Market, London E8 4PH