Back At The Three Horseshoes, Clay Cross, For Pie Night
I love autumn; not just for the cosy log fires, the warm jumpers and scarves and the falling leaves to kick through, but for the indulgent hot drinks (Hot Choc with Cream and Marshmallows, specifically!) and proper comfort food. Imagine my delight then, when my Daddy Bird suggested a flock night out at Clay Cross pub The Three Horseshoes’ Wednesday Pie Night.
This is always a popular night so we’d booked a table a couple of weeks ahead to make sure we weren’t going to be disappointed and it’s a good job we had, because just about every table had a reserved placard on it!
We all filled in the track and trace stuff and doused ourselves with hand sanitiser and then a lovely young lady took through into one of the back ‘snugs’ where our table was. It was snug by name and by nature thanks to the lovely warm brick-red colour on one wall, complimented by a rich cream on the other walls and the superb amber glow from the modern lights and lamps in the space.
Mummy Bird and I both fancied a large glass of Rioja (£6), and our lovely server said if we were planning on having another glass, the bottle is only £14.95 so it would work out cheaper than buying more large glasses. Top tip, and definitely customer friendly advice. The chaps had pints of lager; Carling for Daddy, Moretti for His Nibs. Our attention then turned to food: we had come out as a flock for the ‘Pie Night’, but the usual menu runs every day so you don’t have to have pie if you don’t want.
The pies are all £8.95 and come with a choice of chips or mash, vegetables or mushy peas. I had the Steak and Kidney with mash and mushies, The Man had the last of the Corned Beef and Potato pies with chips and mushy peas, Mummy Bird had the Lamb and Mint pie with chips and mushies and Daddy opted for the Chicken, Ham and Leek morsel with chips and peas. The Tribal Elders have been coming to the pie night at The Three Horseshoes in Clay Cross for a couple of times now and Daddy Bird is on a mission to work his way through the entire selection – can’t fault him!
We could smell some gorgeous smells coming from the kitchen and it wasn’t long before two of Craig’s lovely team were placing our meals before us – warning us to watch the plates as they were red-hot. Plumes of steam rose dramatically into the air as we all cut into our respective pies and a symphony of delicious aromas filled our nostrils. I liked the fact that the mushy peas were housed in a separate little metal, handled ‘pan’; I’m a bit fussy on how I want my peas to be - sometimes I want to be able to use my cutlery to scoop them up a bit-at-a-time, others I want them to roll over my mash like a verdant stream - so it was nice to have the choice. The mash itself was beautifully smooth and creamy, and pleasingly ’thick’ so that it stayed on the fork when placed there with other components of my meal.
Daddy Bird had told me previously about the pastry, and it was indeed every bit as yummy as he’d said it would be. There’s no denying that the pastry case of each pie is very generous and deep, but it isn’t a clarty, heavy pastry (despite it being the real thing i.e. made with animal fat); instead it has that wonderful ‘slow melt’ in the mouth and lingers gloriously on the tongue. If you’re like me, dear reader, whenever I see a thick pastry outer, I always wonder if I’m going to feel cheated by scantier inners – call me sceptical, but it has been known to happen so I’m always cautious. I am very happy to report that in The Three Horseshoes’ kitchen, there is clearly a Chef that’s a feeder; the filling was just as bounteous as the pastry outer. Hurrah!!
The chunks of Steak in my Steak and Kidney morsel were lovely and large and I couldn’t fault the tenderness of the Beef either; it was super-soft, with a great depth of flavour to it. Equally tasty were the pieces of intensely earthy-tasting, soft- textured Kidney: those of you who like offal will appreciate where I’m coming from, non-offal eaters will recoil, no doubt, at the thought of it – sorry.
Oh, I forgot to mention the large boat of extra gravy that was brought out to our table! At various points in the evening we all helped ourselves to more of this lovely meaty liquid – not to assuage any dryness in the meal, but rather to enhance the already great meatiness.
I am probably setting myself up for a real lampooning here, but I cannot stand (as in absolutely detest!!) Corned Beef, so I hope you all appreciate the effort involved when I tried a forkful of His Nibs’ Corned Beef and Potato pie! To me, it just is awful stuff, but I did get the strong flavour of it in my mouth and when I looked into The Man’s cut-into pie I could see that there was an ample amount of it to enjoy (if that’s your bag).
Mummy Birds’ Lamb and Mint pie was also very scrummy; the balance between the rich Lamb chunks and lively Mint was perfect so that you got a harmony of both notes on the palate. On previous occasions Mummy Bird has had chips with her pie and not managed to finish all the food on her plate, so she changed tack and went for mash like myself; this made not one jot of difference, she still couldn’t finish all her pastry!
I would love to be able to give you a first-hand account of the Chicken, Ham and Leek pie but Daddy Bird simply was not parting with a single crumb!! As a pie connoisseur of many decades experience (!) he did inform me of its quality, saying that the Chicken was lovely and moist, and its flavour was creamy in comparison to the deeper taste of the pieces of Ham and the mild Leek ribbons. Apparently the white sauce binding it all together was perfectly thick so it wouldn’t run down your shirt/ blouse front, and its mellow flavour didn’t detract from any of the filling elements. So there you have it! I have to say that it did look, and smell, utterly divine – but that’s as detailed as I can get.
Our tummies were all stuffed full, so we sadly couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm for pudding: you know The Man is satiated when he can’t even be tempted by Sticky Toffee Pudding! The young lady said that she wasn’t surprised we couldn’t manage a sweet treat; ‘pie nighters’ are usually full to the brim!
Hot Wings given again for The Three Horseshoes in Clay Cross for their weekly Wednesday Pie Night. We’ve already had Sunday Lunch there, so at some point we’ll have to go for Steak Night: can Craig and his team make it a hat-trick of Hot Wings?