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Legendary London pie and mash shop where live eels are killed and jellied for customers

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It’s undeniable that the East End has been known for its eclectic delicacies over the centuries, with classic pie and mash being at the forefront of East London cuisine.

One of East London’s longest pie and mash shops is nestled in the heart of Leytonstone, serving up pies with liquor and the acquired delicacy of jellied eels.

Noted Eel & Pie House has been knocking around for the past 126 years, originally located in Bow, set up by owner Peter Hak’s great-grandfather, before moving to its current position on Leytonstone High Road.

But let’s go back to the beginning, because you don’t get to be one of London’s longest surviving pie and mash shops without leaving a little bit of a legacy.

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Peter is the fourth generation of pie shop owners at the family-run business

It all started way back when at the end of the 19th century with Peter’s great-grandfather, a skipper on an eel barge, sailing out of the Dutch town of Heeg.

Eels were apparently available in abundance in the Heegermeer Lake, which were exported to London, where they landed at the Dutch Mooring on the Thames.

Eels were exported from Heegermeer Lake to London until 1938.

Peter explained that now their eels of choice are those from Irish waters – he said there’s no flavour that compares.

His great-grandfather’s eldest son Huite, affectionately known as Pop, was brought to London at the end of the 19th century at the age of nine, and left with a family who owned a pie shop to learn the trade.

Pop opened up his first pie shop in Hoxton with a cousin just before the outbreak of the First World War.

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You’ll find 126 years of pie history packed into one shop

Only after a couple of years he met and married the daughter of another pie shop owner, Earnest Newton – what are the chances?

After Pop’s cousin pulled out of the business, he upped and relocated in 1926 to the Bow Road.

With the help of his father in law, Pop set up shop on a parade of shops that were predominantly owned by the Dutch community.

However, he had to make the compromise and call the shop E. Newtons – guess it was only fair.

The shop remained in Bow until the local council purchased the shop in 1976 – and by that time Pop’s son, Cyril, had been running the show for around 20 years with the help of his brother Russell.

So there you have it, from Hoxton to Bow to Leytonstone, the shop is still running, making pies with the original recipes for both pie and liquor that Peter’s great-grandfather started with.

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This legendary East London pie shop serves up a recipe that’s over 100 years old

The youngest of three brothers, Peter ended up taking on the family business and calls himself the “custodian”, ready for the next generation to take over.

But what makes this legendary institution, well, so legendary?

And it’s all in the pies.

Peter assured My London that there is nothing they’ve changed about their pies, from the meat to the secret liquor recipe.

He said: “We’re very much in line with the old pie shops.”

And like most pie shops, they’re a family-run business – if you couldn’t tell.

The only thing that has changed is that the shop has been brought into the 21st century.

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Peter makes sure that everything is prepped on site ready for customers to enjoy

Peter credits his youngest son, Alfie, for setting up the shop’s website and social media pages, but also for starting a courier service.

He said that once they started the nationwide delivery service, they were getting inundated with calls from previous customers asking if the rumours were true, just to double check it was the Eel & Pie, Leytonstone.

You’ll find their delivery service spanning every corner of the country from Cornwall to Wales to Glasgow (a place he says they deliver to regularly).

This step towards modernising the family business has opened up the shop to a whole new crowd, with the younger generation becoming aware of the humble business.

Unsurprisingly, Peter confessed that he eats pie and mash everyday – and why wouldn’t he?!

Arguably the most eye-catching aspect of the shop is the tank of live eels swimming about – totally unaware of their fate.

Peter said: “I’m the only shop in London that still keeps live eels.”

He prides himself on the fact that the shop makes their own jellied and stewed eels – something that only a few, if any shops still do today.

Peter said: “The eels, for me, are just a natural part of the life of a pie shop.”

Before the pandemic hit, Peter would have students from local primary schools come into the shop and teach them about fish – especially the eels.

He said that some of them would have the funniest reactions to them, but there was one girl who didn’t quite understand them.

Peter said: “This girl came in with a class a couple of years ago, and she said to me, ‘Have they all got names?’

“I said no and she was like ‘oh, why?’.

“She didn’t quite grasp that they weren’t pets.”

It’s an easy mistake to make!

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You can’t have pie without liquor

They get customers coming from all over, but for those that can drive, they’ll get people driving all the way from Norfolk just to talk home two dozen pies home.

Peter’s seen the area change, but he welcomes it: “We try to be friends with everyone.”

Leytonstone exudes a positive attitude, building up a better community spirit amongst neighbours.

He’s a firm supporter of backing his community, such as when Leytonstone’s Arts Trail kicks off, where local artists ask the shops to help display their artwork.

Something he’s been doing for the past ten years.

The shop currently has an art display from local artist Jake Green, who features all the East London pies shop in his work.

The display’s been around for a couple of years, but you can still check out all of the historical pie shops from years gone by.

Peter said: “As each one goes bankrupt or closes, he (Jake) comes in and puts a black border around the pie shop.”

Having persevered through the pandemic, the pie institution is still going strong – with their sights set on building their community even further.

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But Peter has no plans to stop anytime soon, saying that the shop gives him a sense of purpose.

Hoping to hand the reigns over to Alfie in the next few years, Peter will always be there on-hand to help him.

So if you’re looking to tuck into one of East London’s original, classic pie and mashes – or try a jellied eel or two – Noted Eel & Pie House is serving up a 126 year old recipe straight out of the East End.

Location: 481a High Road, Leytonstone, London, E11 4JU

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https://www.mylondon.news/whats-on/legendary-london-pie-mash-shop-21209020