left to right: Spiced Plum Steak, (parents' friend's pear & ginger chutney) Miner's.
I wondered whether I should include the same bakery twice but I feel justified on two counts. Firstly, the initial tasting revealed too much salt. I suspected that this may have been due to human rather than recipe error so a second test was in order. Happily, my suspicions were proved correct. Secondly, if a bakery is this good it deserves as much praise as I can give it.
This second tasting session was sublime. The Spiced Plum Steak pie now takes the Badcliffe's Supreme Champion Pie of New Zealand crown. I would be most surprised if this accolade is snatched from it but, rest assured, I will keep an open mind and continue my testing without prejudice. The plums added a delicious fruity foil for the steak and every aspect of the pie was without fault; cripsy crust, gooey gravy, lots of meat. The Miner's pie was also top drawer but a very different breed. It comprised steak and veg in gravy, with a layer of creamy mashed potato beneath the pastry top. The kind of pie which goes superbly with HP Sauce and stays true to the roots of the pie as a practical, filling snack for the masses. Also, it receives bonus points for the fact that it still has a top crust where many mashed potato-topped pies would lazily do away with the uppermost pastry layer.
The bakery itself deserves a mention as it is a homely place with cafe tables serving excellent coffee as well as the expected vast range of baked wondrousness. It is housed in one half of a small building, the other half of which is an estate agency, or realty agency as it's called here. The bakery doesn't go in for big, brash hoardings and signs outside - in contrast to its neighbour - and, consequently, is easy to miss unless you know it's there. However, it's thriving due to good, old-fashioned word of mouth advertising and the fact that many other less successful local bakeries buy their pies for resale at a mark-up. They have often run out of pies by lunchtime despite regular bake runs and the staff and owners are delightful, obviously taking pleasure from being the best at what they do. Don't think that they're complacent or big-headed though. I heartily commended the owner on his pies being the best I'd eaten, and in true Kiwi bloke fashion he smiled and muttered "Oh, I don't know about that..." while waving away the compliment. Modest to the last. True royalty of the baking world.