Beloved by Brits, Aussies and Kiwis, the savoury pie is just now beginning to catch on in Berlin. Over the past 18 months, a clutch of expat specialists have been laying the ground for the great pastry revolution – reinventing the traditional pie in the process.
The experimentalists: Hellogoodpie
After ditching business studies for baking, Irishman Matthew Minch experienced his e-pie-phany when travelling New Zealand and returned to Berlin determined to reinvent the humble pie. Best-selling classics like steak and Guinness (filled with tender stewed beef and carrots) and the vegetarian Popeye (spinach, feta and walnuts, both €4) are menu mainstays, but Minch and his team specialise in rapid-fire creativity – it seems there are no limits to what their delectably crumbly, rosemary-encrusted pastry can hold.
Recent concoction Bob Marley, stuffed with Jamaican jerk chicken, sold out in a couple of hours, whereas Minch’s personal favourite The Cheeky is a saucy melange of beef cheeks, rhubarb and rustic ale from their Markthalle mates Heidenpeters.
You can catch the undisputed pie kings of Berlin in their canary-yellow piemobile, but for the full experience it’s best to pay them a visit at their cosy Kreuzberg base, opened last September, to enjoy their Pie Tanic special (€10): pie with mash, gravy and crispy onions, served with a beer and a smile.
Falckensteinstr. 9, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Schlesisches Tor, Mon-Fri 11-19
The traditionalists: Pieoneers
Yorkshire school friends James Marnagh and Laura Harker run this small-scale delivery business operated from their apartment and a rented kitchen space in Neukölln. Their British butcher-style pies are innovative without deviating too far from tradition – baker Laura honed her craft for two years at a local butcher shop back in the UK.
Be warned, the densely packed pork (€3.50 or €25 for 10, mixed with prune, apple or black pudding) and heavy lard-based crust will comfort homesick Brits, but might prove wearying for stomachs not used to stodge. There are no meat-free pies on offer, but their fist-sized falafel-coated Scotch eggs (€3) are a tasty deep-fried snack for vegetarian junk food addicts.
No plans to open up shop anytime soon, but if you’re lucky enough to live inside the Ring, Marnagh will hop on his bike and deliver to your door. Make sure to ask for a jar of their homemade red onion chutney (€5) too – it’s one of the reasons they were included on Soho House’s best import list last year.
The expansionists: Oma Marnies
Named in tribute to founder Josh Joblin-Mills’ grandmother, famed for her home-cooked meat pies back in rural New Zealand, the pie purists started stacking up a loyal customer base in 2013, setting up shop at Markthalle IX’s Street Food Thursdays and supplying lean beef pies to fellow Antipodeans at the Kiwi Pub and The Dairy.
In June 2014, they added a small café space to their existing bakery in Prenzlauer Berg. There are no fancy sides but the pies hold up on their own – their take on the standard steak pie, filled with slowcooked beef in a tangy pepper goulash sauce, nods politely to tradition without bowing down to it.
Smoked salmon, pineapple and cracked pepper will be an instant favourite with gourmands (€4) and the mixed bean vegan pie (€4) pastry is as rich and flavoursome as their normal full-butter crust. True to their Australasian roots, they also take their coffee very seriously; their flat white, which you can drink with your pie for an additional euro, is among the best you’ll find in Berlin.
Hiddenseer Str. 13, Prenzlauer Berg, S-Bhf Prenzlauer Allee, Mon-Sun 10:30-18
Originally published in issue #135, February 2015.