For the purposes of research, balance and bit of extra boot-filling - it seemed only fair to visit two of London's other legendary eel and pie houses - both called Kelly...
First stop - G Kelly, 414 Bethnal Green Road - of the three shops tried, this East End eaterie is easily the most functional and fru-fru free. Almost East European in it's minimalist finish: from the wonky white tiling, to the splashed vats and blocked window filtering the outside light into an all-day-grey interior tint.
However for old-school authenticity it's unbeatable - with framed photos of local boxing legends hung above the tables and a foggy, waft of boiling spud-steam, mash and liqour saturating the shop - creating a carbohydrate blast so heady it was a time jolt straight back to the seventies. Like the 'locals only' tabacs and bars you'll spot but never visit abroad.. .Kelly's can have the feel of a minimal-eye contact gaff - in, out and put the kettle on as Monkfish used to say... but having said that, for all it's bare-bone decor - this Bethnal Green pie-house is the easiest commute for me and I will be revisiting.
But back to the food - the mash was a highlight and a delight - super smooth and creamy, served alongside a decent enough pie and liqour.
Scores on the Doors
Pie - 8
Mash - 9
Liqour - 8
Total - 25
Special mentions: the earthy, eastenders atmos' and the smell and spirit of Pie shops past..
By contrast G Kelly (no relation), 526 Roman Rd is like wafting into the an episode of the Duchess of Duke Street, where be-pinnied dinner lady types dust the doorway with brooms and finish every question with "love?'
It's bright, inviting and bustling with locals and office escapees. For the few moments I was a Kelly's customer, playgroup-run mums were nipping in for multiple pie take aways or treating the kids to an eat-in lunch. Add in it's neat, clean Victorian(ish) interiors: dapple grey marble, clean steel, eel themed windows and mirrors - and it could be the perfect place to start if you're a pie and mash newbie. Kelly's menu also a offers a veggie option, fruit pies and crumbles to tempt the sweet toothed and a frozen option for stashing away.
Pie-wise this was the meatiest of the three venues, and similarly the most generous with the portions - Kelly's double mash is closer to a triple, although too under-salted for me, it was rescued by the almost pitch perfect liquor flooding and filling the plate.
Scores on the Doors
Pie - 8
Mash - 8
Liqour - 9Total - 25
Special mentions: Victorian interiors, friendly, family atmosphere, extended menu options and belt-busting portions
Kelly's Interior - found on Flickr
Big Boss Man - Pies And Pastiche