Take me home please
Eastenders, 171 East India Dock Road
Season 2016-2017

Chrisp Street Market occupies a 1960s precinct just north of the Isle of Dogs, and it was to this locale that Team Pie and Mash trundled on 14th October last. Street art has enlivened some of the gloomier edifices of this concrete landscape, where a few East End traditions have clung on – like ‘Hot Dogs & Savaloys • Pease Pudding & Faggots • Est 1951’.

Since we last visited 171 East India Dock Road in 2011, the business has changed hands, had a lick of green paint and been rebranded ‘Eastenders’. But inside, fixtures, fittings and formica were familiar.

The appearance of mighty Tom Leader [above] prompted gladness and admiration of his undiminished appetite for pie and mash. For he has survived challenges to his health that would have seen lesser mortals ‘gone for a Burton’.

Appetisers come jellied or stewed. The addition of hot sauce to cold jellied eels creates a taste sensation and synaptic reaction difficult to describe in words.

Chilli vinegar is the traditional splash, seen here in the expert hands of Doug Benford.

On my table, Big Al Smith was keen that I should give the stewed edition a go. That's because the former Harlow eel-wrangler was impressed by the fare – so was I.

New boy Ray Goldstone rocked up for a second instalment of the Pie and Mash Club. I think he was keen to put a shaky league debut behind him, with an assertive 20-pointer launching him into joint third place at the end of lunchtime.
Say what you like about scoops of mash – this main course is an attractive composition. I couldn’t wait to get my pies open.

Nor could Doug, whose second course comprised the Vegetable Pie – wherein vegetables were clearly visible. Doug's comments: "It had a good consistency - a mixture of sweetcorn, carrot, spud and marrowfat peas, with a gravy binding. The crust was impeccable – i.e.exactly the same as a meat pie; solid and fairly golden."

Whatever the filling, a good pie is worth sticking your neck out for.

The Pie and Mash Calling Card is a postage-stamped portent of our arrival on premises. I had the privilege of a prior call from Gloria, seen here with the item in question. As ever, all I could tell her was 'I don't know who's coming until they turn up'.

[Far right] Eastenders now operates a drive-in service.

Data protection means I must hereafter refer to this lady as 'Linda H, friend of the club'. That's because she has dedicated herself to societal reform, whilst keeping traditional values firmly in the centre of her vision. Where better to do that than on the granite-effect formica of Eastenders?

There were several finger-licking moments during the course of the lunch hour.

Here are Charlotte and Hollie, two ladies just arrived from County Durham for two nights in the smoke. I don't think a first taste of pie and mash was the sole purpose of their visit, but judging by the tidy plates they kept, it certainly set them up for the weekend in style.

 

 

Some in the company had room for hot cherry pie and custard, though Goldwater had to take a long hard look at his carbohydrate wall.

This scene shows family members Dionne, Jeanette and Chris reunited for a cosy trip down pie and mash lane, followed by a nice hot cup of tea. This pie shop was a regular fixture for Chris in his younger years, along with the legendary Ada's on Salmon Lane E14.

[Above] Pie and mash undergarments; choose a size you can 'grow into'.

[right] Pie and Mash Hall of Mirrors.

The 'E' Team [l to r]: Jan [who cooked the pies] Debbie, Gloria and Karen [who made the pies]. The recipe is unchanged from the days of Balkwill's 'Traditional'.

[Right] The group assembles.

Eastenders is a beacon of traditional London culture shining its pie-light a half-mile from the glittering factories of finance at Canary Wharf. The contrast is stark, but the cultural experience is second-to none. The whole thing's worth sticking your neck out for.

Chrisp Street hieroglyphics.

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