Monday, 26 January 2009

Clerkenwell Lunch options. Part One - Pie and Mash.

Clerkenwell, is a fantastic location to work. Smack bang in the middle between the West End and the City, but best of all...for me at least is the bewildering array of lunchtime options to suit all budgets and tastes, from your 'one man band' food stalls in Whitecross and Exmouth Markets where you can pick up some lunch for £3-50 to, at the other end of the scale, upmarket restaurants such as Hix Oyster and Chophouse in Cowcross street, newly Michelin starred St John's in St John Street or Club Gascon on the opposite side of Smithfields where the skies the limit as far as budget is concerned.

Leaving the exalted and lofty until later, I thought I'd run through some of my favourite budget lunchtime haunts first. Places where you can pick up lunch, with change to spare from a fiver.

So, with that in mind, for this first post, lets get head North from Clerkenwell Green and visit Exmouth Market.
Loads of lunch options here, especially on a Thursday or Friday when there are a profusion of food stalls selling everything from Mexican Fajitas to Nigerian Curries.

But my favourite, and my first recommendation is much more traditional than these 'johnny come lately's' - in fact this being London it's about as traditional as it gets....probably the only London meal that's been eaten continuously for centuries and is still eaten today, Pie and Mash.

Clarks Pie and Mash shop is located more or less in the Center of Exmouth Market at Number 46, and it sells everything you could possibly want, (as long as it's either Pie or err..... Mash.)

It's been knocking out this venerable 'food of the Gods' to hungry Londoners since 1910, and long may it continue.

I love the whole tradition of it, the benches and booths, the tiled walls, the rather limited menu, the cutlery you collect from the counter.
A Victorian era Londoner could walk into Clarks tomorrow and wouldn't bat an eyelid.

Although, I must say, Clarks isn't the best purveyor of Pie and Mash (In my humble opinion, Manzies in Tower Bridge Road claims this accolade,) but, It's not bad, not bad at all.

£3-50 will get you a Large Mince Beef Pie, two scoops of mash, all liberally covered with Liquor (Pronounced 'Licker' if you want to get into character). It's a 'kind of' parsley sauce.
But, If your feeling paticuarly hungry you can order more pies and more mash in whatever combination you feel you can handle - the prices for the various combinations are all chalked up on the blackboard behind the counter.

Now, by itself , speaking as a massive fan of Pie and Mash- even I admit it can be a bit bland.
What it needs is liberal amounts or Malt (or possibly Chilli) Vinegar and White Pepper to pep it up a bit. Luckily, anticipating this need - you'll find these very same condiments on the table.

Dig in, enjoy, and when your finished, don't forget to deposit your empty plate on the counter as you leave, it's good manners....and like the meal you've just eaten- it's traditional.

Clarks Pie and Mash.
46 Exmouth Market, London. EC1R 4QE

Clark on Urbanspoon


Mal said...

There's a new Pie and Mash website at . It has a full listing (with details) of every known P&M shop and you can review and rate your favourites (and unfavourites). There's tons of information about pie and mash and you can share your memories with other like minded pie'n'mashers.


mzungu said...


I ate at Clarke's a long time ago. As you said it isn't the best and it is kinda bland, but still good none the less...

Anonymous said...

Lived in London 35 years and never had P&M - so tried Clarks the other week. Hmmm...don't want to slag it off, as it's a fascinating gaff and culture, but pie and mash... I just wish I'd had a kebab or a burrito from one of the stalls outside. IT DOESN'T BLIMMIN' TASTE OF ANYTHING!!! What's with this 'liquor'??? Water with a few flecks of parsley in it. This is the sort of food I imagine English wartime folk thought was tasty until they woke up to quality nosh from other countries!