After the last lockdown eased up a bit but before this one kicked in (walk with me on this one), I reviewed Plate: a then-brand new restaurant venture within the elegantly quirky confines of The Bird hotel on Pulteney Road. Oh, fond memories indeed! “If I could move in for Christmas, I would,” I said, at the time blithely thinking that I’d properly take up residence there for Christmas, New Year and beyond. And then… ah, we all know what happened next.
But beyond the closed doors of the restaurant, Plate’s kitchen is very much open for business every weekend when superchef Leon Smith dedicates his Fridays and Saturdays to making pies for all to click’n’collect from the hotel’s car park (complete with very inviting fire pit, which makes the whole occasion sorta extra magical.)
Okay, we all think we know all there is to know about pies. But personally, I relish the opportunity to be sent back to the drawing board for a rethink – and Pies by Plate definitely got me rethinking the whole genre. I mean, how often do you encounter moist, smooth chicken, the creamy sauce invigorated by just the right amount of tingly tarragon and tightly packed into a neat, super-short pastry crust, somehow lighter than a ‘traditional’ chicken pie yet still reassuringly, supremely, comfortingly familiar? What about a Sweet Potato and Lentil pie that brings depth-charge flavour, texture and total satisfaction to your, erm, plate and puts a vegetarian-friendly option centre stage for all? As for that old family favourite, the Fish Pie: Leon makes sure that the mashed potato topping – divine though it may be – plays a supporting role to huge chunks of cod, smoked haddock and salmon rather than turning the whole thing into a (tiny bit of fish) version of corned beef hash. That mash comes as standard with the pastry-wrapped pies too, and piles of freshly-steamed Bromham winter vegetables (think, hispi cabbage, and courgettes, and leeks, and yum yum yum) kick a hefty portion of your five-a-day straight into the back of the net without making you feel as though you have to eat your greens in order to eat all the pies. Talking of over-indulging (oh come on, we’re in the middle of a bitter UK winter, in lockdown – over-indulgence is all that gets most of us through the long weekends), there’s pud on the menu too: Winter Berry Cheesecake with Chantilly Cream… please trust me when I tell you that if you can’t manage it after your pie-fest, it makes a wonderful breakfast the next morning. Meanwhile, all ingredients used are sourced within a 10-mile radius of Bath, making Pies by Plate a win-win prandial party for all.
Partying on with Leon’s pies is simple: pre-order by 5pm on Thursday or Friday to collect your order between 5pm-8pm on Friday or Saturday (you’ll find the full menu and ordering contact details here.) All dishes cost £15pp, portions are very generous (to say the least!), everything is beautifully packaged and your feast stays hot all the way home without any of the dreaded takeaway sogginess setting in. Want to buy now, eat them later? There’s a reheat-at-home option available.
Who ate all the pies? You, as soon as you get your hands on them. Enjoy!