Comic book visions of cow pie complete with horns come to mind whenever the word pie is mentioned; the hearty, filling, almost manly demeanour of the pie still resonating despite The Dandy and Desperate Dan giving up the ghost long ago.

Perhaps that’s why I hadn’t visited Pieminister in The Covered Market until now, fearful that I might grow barrel chested, stubbly or square-jawed overnight.

National Pie Week provided the perfect opportunity to prove otherwise so on Saturday lunch time I found myself weaving through the city’s packed indoor market to the Pieminister premises.

It was bustling with tourists, locals and students, enjoying the numerous restaurants, cafes and takeaways, all busy, during this peak time.

READ MORE: The wonderful White Horse deserves its Michelin Guide praise

Wonderful smells emanated from the Thai cafe Sasi, long queues snaked from the Souvlaki Brothers Greek street food takeaway, while the Alpha bar at the back was plying its trade to the more health conscious.

Pieminister was similarly popular, patient customers winding right past the butchers.

Presuming it was more of a takeaway than a restaurant, having seen their pies in supermarkets, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was surprised to find a sweet little cafe, with a long serving counter, and a seating area.

The communal trestle tables and stools were tucked around the back, outside and along the windows, utilising every inch of this bijous space while encouraging a more communal style of eating.

We waited in line, moving quickly inside where a cheerful bunch of pie aficionados were waiting to serve us. Manager Yvonne heads up the team and explained the options to us.

The choice was extensive, divided into vegan, veggie and meat, with a varied and ambitious choice of pies on offer. Once we’d made the difficult decision we then had to decide on the accompaniments. Did we want plain or cheese mash? Onions, slaw, gravy, mushy peas? Did we want to try the Mothership (pie, mash, gravy, peas, cheddar & crispy shallots for £9) or the Super Tower (that’s TWO pies piled high atop mash, gravy and peas – for a tenner). Looking at the portion size we decided no. It was the right decision because we were stuffed after just the one.

In the end we chose the Free Ranger (free range British chicken & Wiltshire cured ham pie with leek & thyme) with cheesy mash, gravy, and onions. The filling was moist and tender inside with crunchy pastry outside.

Oxford Mail:

The Chooks Away! was a vegan option - fake chicken with celeriac, smoked garlic & sherry) and so realistic my daughter couldn’t tell the difference.

The Saag Pie-Neer (paneer, with potato, spinach, pea, chilli & mango) was exclusive to Pieminister’s cafes, restaurants and pubs scattered across the country, and suitably delicious and different.

READ MORE: The Handle Bar's crepes are flippin' great

Finding a space on the communal tables we got stuck in, and were surprised how moreish our lunch was. The pies were small, round, crusty and enticing. We also managed to test all of the accoutrements between us. Thick, creamy mash, framed by dark velvety gravy, dry sprinkles of crunchy onion (although a few bits of onion skin had sneaked their way in), a beautiful red cabbage slaw, (without the stickiness of a mayonnaise) all for £7 with one side or £8.50 for two.

We left full and content, knowing that whenever we needed something filling, delicious and quick, with room to sit down, Pieminister is the place.

Or, if you want to make it more of an occasion, visit Pieminister pub, The Birdcage in Thame.


56-58, The Covered Market, Oxford. OX1 3DX

Oxford Mail: