When it comes to mouth-watering comfort food, not many places do it better than M&S.
Which is exactly why I was intrigued by the retailer’s recent announcement it had decided to revamp its popular Gastropub range.
Launched just a couple of weeks ago, the newly improved best-selling range includes a selection of brand new starters, mains and sides that have been the talk of the town on social media recently.
From oozing Mac ‘N’ Cheese balls to the hotly debated Steak and Cheesy Chips Pie, it’s safe to say that M&S has outdone itself with its innovative new ideas.
And, since I love food just a bit too much, I decided to take the opportunity to pick up a few of these interesting dishes to see what all the fuss is about.
Alright, I’ll admit that I was mainly attracted to THAT pie, because I love steak pie and chips, but the addition of cheesy chips could either go brilliantly or horribly wrong.
So, naturally, I found that the only way for me to find out if any of it was worth the hype it has had on social media was to try them out for myself.
Heading to my local M&S Food Hall in based in the Bon Accord Center up here in Aberdeen, I eventually managed to find the whole Gastropub range up for grabs.
First up, let me tell you how difficult it was to grab the steak and chips pie, because it took me quite a few trips to my local store to even get it – that’s how popular it was.
Nevertheless, a couple of trips later and I headed back home with a few of the brand new dishes from the Gastropub range and this is how I got on…
What did I try?
As previously mentioned, I managed to pick up a few of the brand new dishes that were recently launched just a couple of weeks ago.
While the range has revamped a few of their best-selling dishes from previous years, such as the classic Chicken Forestier and Fish and Chips, I decided it was a good opportunity to try something never tried before.
Out of the three dishes I picked up, I can safely say that I have not tried them before, therefore I was going into completely new territory and it was exciting.
These were the dishes I managed to pick up.
- Steak and Chips Pie (main) – £5
- Mac ‘N’ Cheese Bombs (starter) – £4
- Cheese Rarebit and Ham Crumpets (starter) – £4
Steak and Chips Pie
First things first – I love a good steak pie and I ADORE cheesy chips. Quite frankly, a good night out should always be ended with a healthy dose of chips smothered in cheese.
That being said, the idea of the two of them together is certainly an interesting combination and I have to applaud M&S for thinking outside the box.
The unique, and highly sought after, pie is described as being made with “all butter pastry, slow cooked braised cuts of British beef in a rich ale gravy, with a layer of cheesy chips.”
I’ll be honest, it’s actually quite a decent size for one pie, which was a surprise, as I had heard quite a reviews saying it was quite small.
After popping it in the oven for a good 35 minutes, as stated on the box, I eagerly opened the oven to tuck into the brand new dish – and I have some thoughts.
First up – I really, really liked it. The pastry was buttery and flaky, there was a significant amount of filling that was filled with rich tasting gravy and the beef literally melted in the mouth.
I would have liked the cheesy chips a bit more had the 35 minutes in the oven not nearly nuked them – word of warning if you’re trying this, maybe don’t pop them in for the full 35 minutes.
The biggest downfall was that some of the chips hadn’t cooked fully through and were still a little solid on the inside, but that was really the only downfall.
Mac and Cheese Bombs
If there is one dish that I absolutely adore more than anything else, it’s a good old fashioned mac ‘n’ cheese.
It’s one of those comforting dishes that I will eat in literally any way.
Pop it in on foot? Sold. On a Burger? Hand it over. Case it in golden breadcrumbs? It’s absolutely getting bought and tried out.
So, of course, I had to pick up the new Mac ‘N’ Cheese bombs as well, which is literally mac ‘n’ cheese covered in crispy breadcrumb coating – how could I resist?
After quickly popping them in the oven for a good 20 minutes, I eagerly awaited what promised to be a macaroni and cheese lovers heaven.
As soon as I slid my knife into one that was piping hot from the oven, I was immediately hit with layers of creamy mac ‘n’ cheese and I fell in love.
The breadcrumbs were crispy, the mac and cheese was rich and creamy and the added smoky chipotle ketchup added a nice bit of spice.
Actually, I give M&S credit for adding on the spicy ketchup, because I’m usually a sucker for a bit of spice in my mac ‘n’ cheese, so this one was a winner for me.
Cheese Rarebit and Ham Crumpets
Last, but certainly not least, was these interesting Cheese Rarebit and Ham Crumpets which were, once again, another interesting idea from the retailer.
The fact that these are crumpets and it is not classed as a breakfast dish absolutely baffles me, but maybe that’s just my inner British snob coming out.
I have never had a rarebit, so I have absolutely nothing to base this on, but this was the one I had the most issues with, so I’ll start with the positives.
The beer-glazed Wiltshire ham was divine. Similar to the beef from the steak pie, it literally melted in your mouth and it had a decent amount of salt that was never too much.
I did, however, have an issue with the crumpet and the cheese.
The box did tell me to pop it in the oven for just 11 minutes, which I did, but I found that the crumpet still stayed slightly cold, while the topping was tremendously hot.
I did try popping it in the oven for a little longer, but I didn’t want to ruin the overall crumpet, so I was left with a weird combination of quite cold and piping hot – it was bizarre.
I have to say that my thoughts on some of M&S’ new Gastropub range are certainly more positive than anything else.
Let’s face it, I know many just want to hear about that interesting pie, and I can safely say that I have done the work for some of you who are still a little hesitant.
I have to admit, I was surprised by it. It was a decent size with a sufficient filling and it tasted amazing – mostly. Just keep an eye on your oven and maybe don’t keep it in for the full 35 minutes like I did. Or maybe my oven was just a bit too much?
The Mac ‘N’ Cheese Bombs were the winner for me and I urge any fan of the classic comforting dish to pick them up, you won’t be disappointed.
I would suggest still trying out the Cheese Rarebit and Ham Crumpets, because they weren’t so disappointing that I wouldn’t recommend them.
But, they were the only one that I found didn’t cook as well and felt slightly underwhelming.
Overall, I think M&S are on to some winners with their new dishes and, as they are slightly more innovative than usual, it makes meal times that bit more exciting.
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