The brilliant pie festival at Greater Manchester pub that's the perfect remedy for cold winter nights

We taste tested the entire menu at The Black Friar pie festival.
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Temperatures are dropping in Manchester and we've even had this year's first sighting of snow. It’s days like this when nothing is going to get you out of the house. Except maybe, the annual pie festival at the Black Friar in Salford – the perfect remedy to these cold winter nights. 

Pies have always been an essential element of the Black Friar’s menu. As well as an annual pie festival, they also have a daily pie special that is available all year round. Head chef Ben Chaplin also told Manchester World that his pies were the reason he was hired, back when the gastro pub opened in 2021. 

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The Black Friar’s Festival of the Pie is available from 6-17 January, all day Monday and 12-6:30pm, Tuesday to Friday. As part of the festival, diners can get one of the four classics or the daily specials for just £10. The pies will also be available until the end of February as part of their Pub Grub menu. 

Pie fest at The Black Friar, Salford.Pie fest at The Black Friar, Salford.
Pie fest at The Black Friar, Salford.

The four classic pies on offer include minced aged beef and root vegetable, chicken and pancetta, cheese and potato and a fish pie. They all come with mash or chips and greens. We were lucky enough to try all of these pies, here’s what you can expect. 

Festival of Pies

Starting off with the minced beef pie, which is the definition of comfort food. The meat and vegetables, which are melt-in-the-mouth and perfectly seasoned, are encased in flaky yet robust pastry filling – perfect for anyone, like me, who likes a crispy bite to their pastry.

The same goes for the fish pie, which veers from tradition in having a short-crust pastry wall, as well as a mash topping. The filling inside is light and fresh, with chunks of salmon, white fish and prawns, as well as peas and a creamy white sauce that has a hint of dill. 

The four classic pies on offer at The Black Friar include minced aged beef and root vegetable, chicken and pancetta, cheese and potato and a fish pie.The four classic pies on offer at The Black Friar include minced aged beef and root vegetable, chicken and pancetta, cheese and potato and a fish pie.
The four classic pies on offer at The Black Friar include minced aged beef and root vegetable, chicken and pancetta, cheese and potato and a fish pie.
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Their chicken pie has generous chunk of juicy meat and smoky, salty pieces of pancetta that bring depth to each mouthful. Head chef Ben told us that this was his favourite pie and the current best-seller.

Cheese pies are a Lancashire tradition and staple in the region’s pubs, but this definitely stands out. That same crispy pastry encases fluffy new potatoes and cheese that, when you pour over the gravy and break it open, make up the perfect savoury bite. 

While pies are definitely the main event, we also have to give special mention to the sides. Their mash potato is creamy, soft and soaks up the flavours of the pie exceptionally well. You can also opt for chips, which are crispy and salty and, again, pair great with their gravy, which comes in a jug on the side. For an added health kick, the pies come up fresh and colourful greens and cabbage. 

About The Black Friar

The gastro pub opened in 2021 to both critical and commercial success. You can pop in for a quick drink, but the food will definitely keep you staying longer. Inside, the decor is classic and cosy pub with a modern edge – particularly if you get to sit in their glass-walled extension, with bold black-and-white tiled floors and floor-to-ceiling plants. They have an excellent a la carte menu, with everything from porchetta to ravioli, but they are also currently offering a Pub Grub menu that includes fish and chips, bhuna and, of course, pies. 

Head chef at The Black Friar Ben Chaplin (right) preparing the pies. Head chef at The Black Friar Ben Chaplin (right) preparing the pies.
Head chef at The Black Friar Ben Chaplin (right) preparing the pies.
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Things are only just getting started for the team at Black Friar. Managing director Neil Burke recently bought out developers Salboy, which oversaw the redevelopment of the pub in 2021, making Black Friar one of the only independent pubs in Greater Manchester. Head chef Ben also told Manchester World that they are looking into expansion with new venues – so watch this space. 

The Black Friar is located at 41-43 Blackfriars Rd in a rapidly growing neighbourhood just outside Manchester city centre. With thousands of new homes set to be built nearby, The Black Friar is cementing itself as an important part of the community, offering discounts for neighbours. More information can be found on The Black Friar’s website.