Forget the NGV and graffiti covered laneways – throughout the colder months, the sight of a well-risen, golden-coloured flaky pastry pie case smeared with tomato sauce is potentially the greatest, if not truest, work of art around. Sure, it’s no Heston Blumenthal nitrogen-infused candy cake, but what it’s not rather than what it is, is the exact thing that makes the humble meat pie so great. With the AFL season well and truly upon us, we take a look at some of the best pre-game pie options around Melbourne.
#1 The Artisanal
Where: Babka, 358 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
With nearly 20 years of experience behind them, it’s safe to say that among other baked delights, Babka know what they’re doing when it comes to meat pies. Having said that, it’s worth steeling yourself with a bit of determination before heading into Babka, especially on the weekends, where the waits are long and the prams are everywhere. But once you’ve got a beef, burgundy and mushroom pie in your hot little hand, those worries and cares will melt away in no time.
#2 The No Frills
Where: Dinkum Pies, 29 Block Place, Melbourne
Urbanspooners may tell you otherwise, but Dinkum Pies is a Melbourne institution for a reason. With only half a dozen seats to its fit out and service that admittedly leaves something to be desired, Dinkums is the perfect place to grab a steak and mushroom pie and keep moving, be it on the way to an AFL game or back to bed with a lingering hangover. More impressively, Dinkum’s also offer party pies, sausage rolls, and the inferior cousin to the traditional meat pie, the potato pie.
Runner up: Tony’s Pies, Essendon and Kingsville
#3 The Vegetarian
Where: A1 Bakery, 643 – 645 Sydney Road, Brunswick
If consuming cheese is more a lifestyle than a hobby for you, there’s some good news coming your way, because A1 Bakery in Brunswick hear what you’re saying and are on the same page as you. Their cheese and spinach pie essentially gives people a reason to get up every morning, and due to its popularity, there’s constantly a fresh rotation of them coming out of the ovens, so you know what you’re eating is piping hot fresh.
Runner up: Baker D Chirico, Carlton and St Kilda
#4 The Gluten Free
Where: Fatto a Mano, 228 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Food intolerances can make life difficult at the best of times, but that pesky thing called gluten shouldn’t ruin all your fun, especially not when that fun is in the form of a delicious pie. Thankfully, Fatto a Mano are serving up a wide selection of gluten free pies, including the vegetarian spinach, mushroom and haloumi as well as the ultra delicious traditional beef. Get ‘em while they’re hot!
#5 The Take Home
Where: Pure Pie, 383 Bay Street, Port Melbourne
If the words ‘sour cream and butter pastry’ make your arteries sit up to attention then Pure Pie’s Chicken, White Wine, Mushroom and Tarragon is probably the decadent take-home meal for you. Conveniently coming in single and family sized serves, you can get your flaky pastry hit from the shopfront directly, via their online store, or from one of the many independent grocers they stock with throughout Melbourne.
Runner up: Good old Four and Twentys.
#6 The Out of Towner
Where: Pie in the Sky, 43 Olinda – Monbulk Road, Olinda
Serving their pies with a slice of gold medal, as well as peas and mash, Pie in the Sky has been quietly nailing the art of pie making for 22 years and winning awards for their pastry concoctions ever since. Try the beef and Guinness or traditional Aussie meat pie for that taste of victory, or get really adventurous and order yourself a Pie Floater.
Runner up: Gillies Famous Pies, Bendigo
#7 The Traditional
Where: Richmond Pie Shop, 200 Swan Street, Richmond
Not including their pasties or sausage rolls, Richmond Pie Shop offers up a staggering 16 flavours of pies, making it the unofficial mecca for pie aficionados. The beef, bacon and cheese finds that perfect balance of tasting like heaven while making you feel a little disgusting morally, while the chicken and mushroom essentially feels like you’re eating a warm hug from your Gran. Both are perfect options for that pre-AFL game feast.
Runner up: Keith’s Pies, 119 Burnley Street, Richmond
(Lead image: Alpha/Flickr)