Take me home please
Smiffy's vs Raymond's
in Eltham
Season 2012-2013

The ancient village of Eltham boasts not one but two 'proper' pie and mash shops – those establishments where the pies are made, baked and served on the premises. When one considers the royal lineage of the district it seems rather apt, as if by Royal Decree.

The first stop on our 'back-to-back' itinerary was Smiffy's – technically outside the old township, in a small parade of shops in Well Hall Road and just beyond a smartly restored Tudor barn. A setting more apt for Pie and Mash I cannot think of, but we quickly ensconced within the modest confines of 'Smiffy's', its black and white checked interior surely a nod in the Tudor direction.

The club was greeted warmly by patron Don and his partner Joana, who set up the business here a little over two years ago. As you can see, a number of other options are available on the blackboard.

A double header in unknown territory is a tricky proposition for the pie and masher. Even these two seasoned chompers were conservative in their orders. I opted for a splash of hot stuff in the eel juice, making for a delicious appetiser to the main course.

Fare close ups.

Mike G and I found the undersides of these pies to have an unusual degree of eelasticity, but they were quickly sundered with the edge of a spoon.

For Ian Burr [near right], Royal Eltham's proximity to his Royal Greenwich home proved too convenient an opportunity to miss.

A meaty mouthful.

After a meal like this, Edward Mosse feels Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy.

Sue Madigan's expansive expression gives an accurate impression of a good meal well enjoyed.

As ever it was a marketing opportunity for Dodge's book but, being the entrepreneur, he was quite unable to resist fielding an incoming call to his telephonic device. O dear, minus 5 points.

Chris Charalambous checks for correct custard consistency.

The dining room was quite busy on this Maundy Thursday lunchtime, and I took the liberty of asking the young local pictured his thoughts on the 'Eltham Duo'. In a nutshell, no contest; Smiffy's is the proper Pie Shop, Raymonds is a cafe that does Pie and Mash.

It was good to know that Smiffy's has inspired loyal patrons in its short time at Tudor Parade. With well-developed character in its pies, accompanied by a firm, but not too dry, mash served å la scrape, it has all the hallmarks of a well established shop. So it came as no great surprise to learn that our host Don previously operated a 'Smiffy's' in the Downham area.

So far so pud . . .

 

 

The centre of Eltham is about the same distance from the railway station as Smiffy's but in the opposite direction, so this afforded the assembled members opportunity of a pleasant 15-minute walk to Passey Place, just off the main thoroughfare.

Once past the unassuming, modern-looking cafe shopfront, we entered into a long and cavernous dining room furnished with singular pine seating booths. I was transported back in time to Raymond's of Catford, which the Club visited some 12 years ago.

Our genial dinner ladies included Maggie [right], who soon fell under the marketing spell of Dodge Rogers.

[Near right] This all-on-one is courtesy of Mike Goldwater. Note the use of ice-cream scoops.

[Far right] Shovellers.

[Near right] This lady was entranced by the flashing cameras and excitable babble of the pie-parazzi. Her name is Jackie and she was in the queue for a takeaway. Interestingly, hers is a marriage of opposing pie preferences: wife a Raymond's raver, husband a Goddard's gorger. There have been lesser grounds for divorce.

[Far right] Mike G gets into the driving seat.

Raymonds offers an intimidating array of alternatives, but we were not swayed. To show allegiance to the p-n-m cause, I got my Manze's dishcloth out.

It's a U-F-O (unidentified food object].

If there were aliens aboard that saucer, they wouldn't stand a chance . . .

. . . against these jaws of doom.

A custard-covered steam pudding is itself a great stress reliever, but there are some other helpful hints on display in the shop.

Raymonds certainly serves up a 'full varied menu'; the options are staggering. But you would be missing out on an authentic pie and mash experience if you were to dismiss it as simply a cafe, for this is a shop which 'makes its own' – and very flavoursome they were too. In conclusion, Eltham's duelling pie shops are a living asset to its historic heritage.

After a delicious pint in the Park Tavern across the street, the remnants of the party boarded the 132 bus to North Greenwich, whence was boarded the Emirates Air Line [cable car] to Royal Victoria Dock. Now there's pie in the sky!

St@