Take me home please
Stokemoore's, Elm Park
Season 2015-2016

The quiet township of Elm Park exists at the far eastern reaches of the District Line. It's a self-sufficient bubble often overlooked, I imagine, by the commuter homeward bound to his white picket fence in Upminster. However it boasts a bona fide pie and mash shop called Stokemoore's; this elevates Elm Park to 'destination' status for the Pie and Mash Club.

My fellow traveller Mike G. and I arrived there one Friday lunchtime in mid-March with time enough to perform a perambulatory reconnaissance of the sleepy suburb. Elm Park is notable for its sheer number of independent shops – so many that you wonder how it can possibly sustain them – and for a conspicuous lack of pubs within a mile of its central crossroads.

With a bottle of hot sauce purchased and the time approaching 11 minutes past one, we ambled towards 194 Elm Park Avenue.

Already in situ and commanding an impressive vista of comestibles was reigning Pie and Mash Champion, Chris Charalambous, along with the impeccably attired Paul Gale whose business trip to London conveniently coincided with the club's calendar.

That's me with my 3-n-1 and a bowl of stewed eels. But it wasn't enough to prevent the postmaster general from easing back into the league's top spot.

The hot sauce was opened and splashed, the pies upturned and slashed.

The eels were handsome in their own juice, if a tad overdone. The topsides of these pies were less roasted than is customary, and the outside crimp was a bit chewy. However, the beef was minced finer than most, and I reckon this allowed more meaty flavour to come through.

That pie-namic duo Judith and Jean, with non-traditional condiments of the Club in the foreground. Judith's palate is slightly more 'jerk' than mine – perhaps that comes from living in Catford.

 

Richard Lucas is a man of the hills and valleys – his lofty outlook on life reflected poetically in the mountainous mashscrapes of a 1-2-3-2.
An ascent like that requires hydration at every resting point.

The menu was completed with a choice of apple or cherry pie, plus ice cream or squirted cream. [Unfortunately custard was not available on the day.] Naturally, Champarabulous Charalambous covered all the possible dessert bases.

For Jean Cunliffe it was the perfect way to celebrate a satisfying second-hand shop sortie. Bargain-of-the-day: a nifty piece of genuine Worcester porcelain.

Stokemoore's gallery comprised mainly West Ham memorabilia, with the notable addition of a framed pair of used boxing shorts and this rather more dubious item – I believe it's Reggie Kray's H.M.P.J.'s.

You've been framed.

Despite the decidedly macho decorations our staff on this Friday lunchtime was all-female. Lisa [l] and Lucy [r] were supported by camera-shy colleague Emma.

A close-up of Stokemoore's 'Extra Hot' with luminous enticement for the weary Upminster-bound commuter. N.B. this shop is currently open 10am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 5.30pm Saturday and 12 to 4pm on Sunday.

My one regret of the day was not sampling the Original Stokemoore’s Pepper Pie, an in-house speciality available along with Salmon, Mash and Liquor plus a vegetarian option.

Paul Gale proffers a farewell salutation with his big bib briefcase.

On the back of the door, an inspired bit of local advertising.

Us outside.

Some of the sights of Elm Park.
With a pub nowhere in sight, the company was forced to repair to a corporate coffee station on the crossroads in order to digest and meditate upon the afternoon's culinary events. Any chance of quiet contemplation was swiftly put asunder by the breezy arrival of club legend Len Wilcock, who had motored hard from Crewkerne to join us. Lighting the blue touch paper, I mentioned the name ‘Martin Chivers’ and Len was off, recounting tales from the golden age of football with a half pint of frothy coffee in his hand.
As the club dispersed into a mediocre mid-March afternoon, Len began his assault on precinct 13 of the Pie and Mash League. Photographic evidence of the siege herewith.
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