Piecaramba, Southampton

In a world dominated by fried chicken, pizza and burgers, Southampton finally gets a restaurant dedicated to one thing: pies

Regular readers may remember Connor Mackay – on-and-off columnist here at Expensive Tastes for four years between 2013 and ’16. Aside from now being the longest-serving member of staff at 7-Bone (that’s the company, not just the Portswood restaurant of which he’s still General Manager), he has also since become a father. For this review, he, his son and his girlfriend Rachael all joined me for lunch.

Apart from The Stable, which is an ever-expanding chain, there is nowhere that deals in pies and only pies. Until now, with the arrival of Piecaramba. It has had a restaurant in Winchester for the last year, and now it has taken over a former salon in Carlton Place, Southampton. Its gimmick is comics, which are in vogue with all the cinematic universes going on right now.

To my surprise, its small, café-like interior is not at all the comic book store I was expecting. Yes, comic strips and popular movie references adorn the walls, and there are numerous decks of Top Trumps on hand for your entertainment, but otherwise it’s quite mundane. It hasn’t stepped out of an episode of The Big Bang Theory; put it that way. Even an anti-geek like myself can feel at home here. There was a very chilled and relaxed atmosphere. The manager, who was doubling as a waiter for us, was more than happy to talk us through the menu, comprised of a selection of 21 pies (including vegan and gluten-free options), priced according to how many bells and whistles you apply.

The best deal in my opinion, is the Pie & Mighty Meal, applicable to all pies. You get your pie, mashed potato, minted mushy peas, crispy shallots and cheddar cheese. All for £9.95. What’s not to like?

Connor chose the restaurant’s eponymous dish – the Piecaramba. This is basically beef chilli in a shortcrust pastry case, including kidney beans, onions, tomatoes and Double Gloucester cheese. Rachael took more of a leaning towards chicken, deciding on the Freeranger: a chicken, ham and leek combination (and one of my favourites).

Parchment Street Pie – partridge, pheasant and venison in a beef bouillon

I could not resist trying something just that little bit more posh, though. My choice was called the Parchment Street Pie (see pictured). This was a pie of Partridge, Pheasant and Venison, contained in a beef bouillon. I can tell you now – the richness of all these flavours was incomparable, but so much so that they dominated one another so it was impossible to tell which meat was which. That’s just the cooking process, so I can’t criticise it.

Pie and mash is proper Cockney fare, and one of the elements from this that has been brought to the Piecaramba restaurants is the choice of traditional pie liquor on the side. It’s a creamy parsley sauce, and it is so delicious. Keep the gravy at home, guys.

Incomparable value, incomparable atmosphere and service; the concept itself is so well thought out. It gets an instant recommendation, and we hope that this place will stick around for quite some time. We have a few more pies to try…