Executive head chef and piemaker extraordinaire Calum Franklin has restaurants such as The Ivy and Roast in Borough Market on his CV, but it’s his dedication to perfecting the humble pie that has won him more than 67k Instagram fans and added a major talking point to the menu at Holborn Dining Room with his intricate golden pastry creations, even spawning The Pie Room next door.
Located in a grand Grade II-listed hotel in among the suited and booted bustle of Holborn, this Art Deco brasserie is a mix of old-school glamour and modern charm. Marble and red leather meet brushed brass and Edison bulbs. Waiters in smart-but-cheerful tartan trousers work to make you feel at home, as does the warm lighting and comfortable banquette seating.
The big draw is, of course, Franklin’s pies, but we made a beeline for the establishment’s other signature first: the gin. Home to London’s largest collection, there are over 500 available and the choice really is endless. Try the Arbikie Kirsty’s for a classic G&T, or the Prudence cocktail (Sipsmith Sloe, pineapple juice, lime juice, redcurrant syrup, Angostura bitters, nutmeg) if you prefer something a little sweeter (and rather photogenic).
With a 30-minute wait for pies, we kicked dinner off with a duck, pork and pistachio en croute with plum chutney. This arrived as a slice of flavourful filling held together with perfectly cooked pastry, and boasting a glorious burst of jelly. The award-winning Monkshill Farm Scotch Egg was also a great choice. The crispy panko casing was ultra light, the egg just the right amount of runny, the sausage meat perfectly seasoned.
But when the curried mutton pie main arrived, everything that came before it was temporarily forgotten. What. A. Pie! Topped with a delicate lattice lid and chunky mango salsa around the crisp golden base, it was everything we hoped it would be – equal parts comfort food and something that little bit special. Smother the thick chunks of tender mutton and curry sauce with butter-heavy creamed potatoes for the ultimate ‘hygge’ on a plate.
The hand-raised pork pie doesn’t disappoint either. A heavy filling of pork shoulder, smoked bacon, fennel seed and sage is wrapped, gift-like, in pastry that gives way to the fork in just the right way. Great drowned in gravy and washed down with a pint of Hells Lager, this is familiar, simple British pub grub taken to an exciting, elegant new level.
Starters, mains, sides and drinks for two from £100
Come for the glamorous setting, stay for the Insta-worthy pies. Can’t stay? Grab a pie to go from The Pie Room next door from 11am-4pm, Monday to Friday.