Tag Archives: hampstead

Pie Night Out: Holly Bush

27 Jan

Tonight I went out with my friend Lucia, who has just moved into an adorable flat in Hampstead. She always manages to choose adorable, cozy restaurants, and tonight brought me to her local pub, Holly Bush, located in a 1790s house just north of the tube at the entrance to a winding residential alley. Hampstead is a twee little suburb, mostly built up by Yerkes in his tube expansion plan – he invested in large amounts of land just outside the city and then engineered the tube to go through those areas, earning millions. I thought it was all 1890s, but I guess parts of it are, well, much older and cuter (and not corporate, although that hardly matters when a) your corporation is 120 years old and b) the corporation is the London Underground, which I believe to be man’s greatest achievement. More on this later).

Anyway, the pub had a perfect atmosphere for pies – dark and wood-paneled, with twists and turns and those mysteriously-appearing stairs that characterize historic homes. It seemed to be a free house, but we didn’t order any drinks; Beer in the Evening gives it a 6.8/10 for ales, which is pretty good (the BITE raters are quite harsh).┬áI looked down at the menu and knew there was only one option for me: a butternut and goat cheese pie. YES. The rest of the food was great, too: we greatly enjoyed the carrot and parsnip soup, especially as the bread was thick, fresh, and just slightly charred, making the combination of bread and soup taste gloriously ┬ároasted, and Lucia loved her trout with Jerusalem artichokes, although it looked a bit difficult to eat as it was wrapped in string. But this pie: oh lord, there is no way to go wrong with butternut. It came STEAMING, and even after eating the rocket salad (with a very light butternut-mustard dressing) and roasted cherry tomatoes, I still burned my mouth on the first bite. The pie was two-fist sized with a circular slice of goat cheese on top; the crust was moist and buttery, not crumbly in the least. It was shiny, so possibly coated with egg. The interior seemed to only contain three ingredients – butternut cut into chunks, thin slices of shallots, and thin slices of garlic. Oddly, it was not as garlicky as I would expect for something with slices in it: perhaps it was overwhelmed by the butternut. I couldn’t place the spices, but there might have been sage. The whole thing was sitting on a bed of butternut mash.

I really wish I could have identified the spices in it so I could recreate it, but I was just enjoying it too much to tell. I think I’ll attempt one of these on Sunday and see how it goes. My one change, though, would be to put the goat cheese inside the pie where it could melt in. MMMMMMM.