On Goldhawk Road, just off Shepherd’s Bush, there sits a pie and mash shop, A. Cooke’s.
It’s been there since 1899, quite a long time in London. Pie and mash shops seem to be a bit of a dying breed in the city though I understand that they originated here.
I’d wanted to visit this shop for ages but sadly, it was the threat of imminent closure that finally got me there. In a nutshell, the council want to knock down this row of Victorian shops in an effort to modernise Shepherd’s Bush Market and from what I’ve read, they aren’t listening to the objections of the residents. There’s been some good coverage of the public meetings where this issue has been debated on the Shepherd’s Bush Blog and I urge you to go there for the full story (see here for the showdown at the latest public meeting). There is indeed a lot of history along this road and not least of all at this pie shop which has been at this location since 1899 (there’s also a diner dating from the 1960s along this strip).
I arrived there late one Saturday morning and judging from the queue out the door, the shop certainly doesn’t lack for customers. Nothing’s changed inside for at least 30 years but there’s a quaint charm to it all.
A single pie and mash was £3.50. Eels were also available but I didn’t think I could deal with them in the morning.
Orders were taken from the counter by a a few seemingly gruff ladies but really they’re just very efficient and obviously have hearts of gold. (One of them might gently bully you into signing their petition to save the shops.) I took my pie and mash and liquor to the last free table and dug in. All the while, another lady was clearing tables and smilingly inquiring to everyone sitting down if they were enjoying their pies.
How was my lunch? The pies are all filled with minced beef and gravy and the mashed potatoes are clearly made from scratch. It’s a little bland on its own but there’s nothing a bit of malt vinegar couldn’t sort out – and actually, you are supposed to be eating it with the vinegar and white pepper, both of which are on every table. It’s quite heavy but not at all dry due to all the gravy inside the pie and liquor, a parsley based sauce, on top and it’ll stick to your ribs and keep you warm and full. I found it strangely comforting, partially because of the stodge factor.
Definitely worth a visit; do go and support them. They’ll forever be my first pie and mash shop!
48 Goldhawk Road
London W12 8DH