Tasted and complied by Hamish and Danny.
Oslo once said: “Love is not about possession – Love is about appreciation.” I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that statement, or the work of Oslo – unless its GCSE classic ‘Of Mice and Men’ then I don’t want to hear it. Anyway, my colleague and I (a lot like Lenny’s character) bloody love mince pies. I don’t know if it’s the fond memories of making them with my Mum or eating so many that I once threw up a fruity pastry ball of goo in my mouth. Either way, during the most festive month of the year we’re embarking upon a taste-test journey the likes of which are unheard of. Well, not quite as there was a review by a few papers and Aldi apparently have the best mince pies. However, undeterred the two of us got together to review the best mince pies. And no, we won’t be mincing our words.
Gregg’s – 2.5 out of 5
G-money, G-slice- Greggster. What are we going to do with you mate? Many a late night back in Nottingham I’ve seen a bouncer or two on the doors of Greggs. Much to my disappointment you couldn’t rent out a VIP table with some steak slices with sparklers stuck in them. Our first venture into festive-fruit goodness was Greggs. Now, at 4 for £1.50 I’m thinking- alright… alright. Good value. However, the top of the pie itself is so laden with flour powder after biting into it I looked like I’d been to a party at Pablo Escobar’s house. The filling leaves a lot to be desired and quite frankly, a bakery should be teaching the other guys a lesson. It fell short in a lot of respects, but the pastry has that authentic crumble to it.
Sainsbury’s – 3.6 out of 5
I had to give these guys a go due to the commitment of slapping 4 of their stores in a half-a-mile radius of my workplace. Like a crazy ex-girlfriend, it’s creepy – but I’m flattered by your efforts. Value wise, Sainsbury’s have it spot-on. 12 for £2 if you take advantage of their glorious offer. Simple stuff. I had my reservations when I opened the box to find the pies notsealed in plastic. This is a fresh(ish) product, what’s your secret to stopping them going off? I’m sure it’s the same stuff Nigella Lawson slaps on her face every morning to keep herself looking so young (call me). There’s a neat dash of sugar on the top and some festive embellishment on top but nothing too flamboyant. The initial bite greets you with a small taste of the preservative but not enough to give a second though. That filling though, let me tell you about that filling… It was such a rich filling, I’d say it resides in the Kensington area of London. Good job Sainsbury’s.
Pret – 3.0 out of 5
Coffee shops are very presentation-orientated, sure their selling points are the experience of sitting down and sharing a moment. Much like this underlying philosophy, the mince pie was a little Pret-encious. Obviously trying to overcompensate with its size and that big star? Three very wise men took a lunch trip to pick it up. But just like preggers Jo and Maz turning up at the inn – it only ended in disappointment. The less said the better really. It seemed haphazard and the overall result was a mincestrosity. Frankly, this was bambi on ice and it just won’t stand up against the rest. It suffered from delusions of blanduer.
Starbucks – 3.5 out of 5
Let me share my first grievance – this whole ‘Duffin’ product that Starbucks are trying to patent. It’s not theirs. Every time I go in there it’s all I can think about. The cheek of them. But back to the topic, the mince pie. It’s big, bold and a little more beautiful. For a coffee shop – not too bad a price. However, it felt a little more like eating a cake than a pie. The pastry was forgettable and it seemed a little fused int
o the filling. The chunks of dried orange were a little hard but negligible. Its density probably makes it quite enjoyable with a nice nut latte if you’re trying to get your festive-on. Overall, if we’re putting this up against the competition, it just doesn’t stand out. I’m afraid to say you don’t get the bang for your star-buck. But overall, not bad.
Costa – 3.8 out of 5
Costa has a little more of an unorthodox approach, the piece is more the shape of a cheesecake than a pie with the pastry at the top being more thin and revealing than a low-cut invisible v-neck. Costa you loose cannon you. Sprinkled with some floury sugar (a lazy man’s decoration), we were a little skeptical. However, biting into this bad boy, it had a real richness and depth to it’s mince. That’s were you’re going to capture the imagination of a pie-connoisseur and it managed to be perfectly balanced in its fruitiness and stickiness. Sure, it wasn’t flawless – with slightly too much pastry (a common coffee-shop pie trait) but it was the most fulfilling of the fillings and in terms of size – understated.