The Pie Shoppe is tucked away in a particularly cosy nook of Barcelona’s village-like Gracia barrio and offers soulfully gratifying British and American pies (savoury and sweet) – all lovingly handmade on the premises and expertly paired with local craft brews.
This is one of those places that reminds me why I love living in Barcelona so much. Of course I love tapas and paella and vino, but what really makes this city such a great place to live and eat is its diversity. Its diversity of people. Diversity of gastronomic culture.
The Story ~ Bonnie Wee Bakes and Southern Soul
The story begins… Glaswegian Gary Clark and West Virginian Natalie Vanderpool met during their very first week in Barcelona and, as so often happens when people come to this alluring city, their lives were changed forevermore.
The pair bonded over a mutual love of food, discovering each other through the nuances of their native cuisines, finding common ground and differences all the while.
Gary, a true Scot, would sing the praises of proper pub grub, of pucker pork pies and stodgy steak & stout steamers. Natalie would retort with toothsome tales of grandma’s golden apple pies and bourbon-spiked pecan pies. Seductive stuff indeed.
And, perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, the couple married not so very long after, falling deeper in love with each other and their new life together in Barcelona.
Their love of food also blossomed, and they vowed to leave their office jobs behind and start their own business, to create a space where they could share their passion for baking with the good people of Barcelona.
Pie in the Sky
After scouring the city in search of a suitable space, the couple eventually happened upon a traditional bar de toda la vida – Spain’s answer to the local pubs of Britain, or the dive bars of America.
They met with the soon-to-be-retired owners, who had been running the bar for 27 years, and discovered that they had also been the exact same age when they had taken over the bar themselves.
Surely an omen for success, or at least for longevity…
Natalie and Gary took over and after a commendably affectionate renovation – they’ve successfully maintained that timeless Spanish bar feel – this historic and homely space quickly began winning the hearts of locals.
Often when I excitedly share this discovery with my foodie friends, I find myself singing to the choir – “Ah yes, I know where you mean! I love that place!”
This cosy, convivial space is like your local pub, but with a warm, oven-baked Mediterranean twist. It’s cool but classic, with huge windows that allow the sunshine and lazy neighbourhood vibes to seep inside.
The tables and chairs are original and have that look that hints at the hundreds and thousands of stories they’ve hosted.
Board games and books tempt you to linger a little linger, while Douglas, the couple’s little white terrier, lounges in the sun – “good doggies species are always welcome”.
Regulars perch at the bar and familiar faces come and go while Natalie waltzes between tables delivering feasts to groups of happy customers.
And just like a good local pub, there’s a real sense of community here, with regular events like the “Pie and Pinta” pub quiz or the “Whisky and Vinyl” nights, where you can spin your own disks and a tip a few drams back.
In short, this is a place that makes you feel like a local, like you are part of something, part of Barcelona.
The Savoury Pies… and More
The stars of the show, The Pie Shoppe’s bulky pies draw on seasonal ingredients and are traditionally hand-raised on the premises every day. Natalie perfects the pastry, Gary focusses on fillings.
These dense and dinky little things have a weight to them that makes you want to bounce them around your hand, the sort of authentic home-cooking I associate with my grandmother’s cooking. Real food. Real cooking, you know?
But where to start?
For traditional pub lovers like myself, you simply must start with the wee pickled eggs… Gary and Natalie have put a spin on this classic pub bar snack, serving quails eggs pickled for 72 hours an accompanied with chopped chives and a sweet and spicy chutney that really wakes up your tastebuds.
Another bar snack classic: Gary’s gourmet Scotch eggs are made with Catalan botifiarra sausage meat and served the traditional way: hot and slightly runny in the middle, lavished with homemade piccalilli or tear-jerking English mustard.
For the ultimate taste of Scotland, try the haggis Scotch eggs served with homemade pickles and a peppery whisky salsa.
And then of course there are the pies!
Keep it classic with a steak & ale pie or pork, apple and cider pie. Or there’s the chicken, mushroom and leek pie. It’s difficult to choose.
Weekend specials may include proper beer battered fish and chips with homemade tartare and minty mushy peas, or mussels cooked in ale.
This is such deeply gratifying food. Food that’ll put hairs on your chest and a grin on your face.
The Vegetarian/Vegan Options
My novia Rosana is vegetarian so I’m increasingly aware of how important it is to offer vegetarian options. Unsurprisingly, Natalie and Gary have thought of this too and have plenty of options for meat-free diners.
There’s the squash with spinach and walnut pie, the vegetable chilli pie or boiled eggs blanketed in a rich chickpea and beetroot blend and served with a double dollop of homemade piccalilli. And they’re always playing around with new meat-free ideas…
The Sweet Pies
Southern soul food is the stuff of dulce dreams and these seductively sweet slices will make you wish you had an American grandma (or a Natalie) of your very own.
Order a wedge of the classic brown sugar and cinnamon apple pie served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or choose from pecan pie, banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie and strawberry mint pie, which are all guaranteed to put you in a good mood, as will the banana cake with cream cheese frosting and beautiful brownies.
Pair with a proper cup of Yorkshire tea, coffee, or allow Natalie to work her magic and recommend you a beer – chocolate really does go down incredibly well with a dark and stormy porter!
Talking of beer…
The only thing better than devouring gourmet Scotch eggs and pies that have been handmade by a Scotsman is washing your Scotch eggs and pies down with quality local craft brews.
American-Catalan brewers Edge Brewing dominate the taps, though the ancient fridge is also stocked with an impressive range of local craft beers.
From light and crispy blondes to hoppy IPAs and toasty stouts, you can be sure to find the perfect pinto to pair with your pie.
As I say, I highly recommend asking Natalie for a few pointers as it seems she has worked out the perfect pairing combinations for each pie.
Natalie and Gary are also partial to a wee dram from time to time and have a solid selection to choose from on the shelf behind the bar, along with a few bottles of moonshine (the legal variety, don’t worry), which has long been loved by the moonshiners of Natalie’s native West Virginia.
I think it’s pretty clear that I’m a huge fan of The Pie Shoppe. This is seriously high quality home-cooking, with hearty dishes that you simply won’t find anywhere else in Barcelona.
In many ways it’s a taste of home for people like me, and in other ways it’s one of the most exotic corners of the city.
Natalie and Gary are inspirations and work insanely hard to offer quality dishes at equally delicious prices, and also to create an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and content.
Tip: I highly recommend taking advantage of the menú del día (lunch menu), available Wednesday to Friday from 1pm to 3.30pm. It includes a starter, a pie, dessert or coffee, and a drink for a bargain 12€.
Seriously, €12! I don’t think you’ll find better value for money anywhere else in Barcelona.
Also be sure to grab a “frequent pie-ers club card” when paying your bill so you can collect stamps and get your 10th pie FREE!
Make it Happen
Address: Carrer de Pàdua, 87, 08006 Barcelona
Nearest Metro: Lesseps (Green Line) or walkable from Fontana
Phone: 931 28 81 65