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F Cooke Traditional Pie and Mash

Home > London > Dinner | Fish and Chips | Food and Wine | Historic Houses | Lunch
by Damsel Martin (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer, blogger and animal wrangler living in Brisbane's western suburbs. Many of my stories offer great giveaways to readers - subscribe to hear about them first.
Published September 19th 2016
Just add parsley for the ultimate in Cockney cuisine
f cooke eels pie mash cockney cuisine london
On Hoxton Street. Author image.

London's River Thames used to be teeming with eels. That's no longer the case, but this slippery fish still makes it onto lunch and dinner plates at F. Cooke Traditional Pie and Mash in London's East End.

The eels this 154-year-old institution now cooks up hark from elsewhere, including Ireland, and as far away as New Zealand. Yet however you like your eels - warm and jellied, or stewed with mash - there is something on the stripped back menu at this pie-and-mash shop to suit you.

We stepped into F Cooke Traditional Pie and Mash to fuel up ahead of a Jack the Ripper tour with London Walks. We were greeted by none other than the proprietor, a descendant of Fred Cooke, who opened the original pie, mash and eel shop in Clerkenwell in 1862. 'Watch out,' he said, with a wink. 'Eels are an aphrodisiac.'

f cooke eels pie mash cockney cuisine london
Enjoy a bowl of history inside this unassuming shopfront. Author image.

Eels formed the basis of Cockney cuisine because they were cheap and bountiful. Now, thanks to changing tastes and the evolution of fast food, jellied eels and other dishes sold at F Cooke Traditional Pie and Mash are among the only traditional East End foods still in existence.

We ordered, then took our spot on the wooden bench seating and waited. Delivered to our table soon after were bowls of chopped eels swimming in a thick parsley sauce (sometimes referred to as liquor). The eels themselves were chopped and served with skins-on, in the company of a cloud of white, creamy mash.

f cooke eels pie mash cockney cuisine london
F Cooke's pristine interior. Author image.

Plenty of people rave about the eels. But for me, at least, they're definitely destined to remain an acquired taste. (Too bony and too fishy-tasting if you ask me.) Still, I'm glad we visited F Cooke Traditional Pie and Mash. It's hard to image a more authentic setting in which to savour a slice of the city's culinary history.
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Why? Sample some culinary heritage
When: Mon to Thu 10am to 7pm; Fri and Sat 9:30am to 8pm
Phone: 44 20 7729 7718
Where: 150 Hoxton Street London N1
Cost: Pie and mash from 3.70
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