My mother came up to stay for her culture vulture London fix last weekend. I decided to take her along to L Manze's, a pie and mash shop in Walthamstow market retaining an original interior and facade. The market is a kilometre long, we walked so far down I thought for a second we'd missed it altogether. I stopped to ask one of the stall holders and he said "just after the traaaffick lights and bring me somefink back baaabe!" There is little remaining period architecture along the High St, it's lively but I'd say it feels more third world than Victoriana. I was beginning to doubt our mission and it was arctic cold even in my thermals. Suddenly I saw it on the left, the green and gold facade of L Manze, twinkling on an otherwise gloomy day. How on earth it survived when everything else seemed to have been torn down around it I will never know. It's hard to imagine just how warm and inviting the pie shop would have looked amongst the smog and filth of London back when it was built. In fact, everything from the white gloss painted pressed tin ceiling to the gold leaf signwriting seems to have been designed to shimmer and reflect. Expensive tiles piped with raised decoration (tubing) were designed to catch the light and interest of customers in the days of dim gas lighting. The white tiles and wooden booths look clean and convivial. Let's also not forget the sawdust which would have been strewn across the floor but sadly missing on our visit.
As we had already had lunch my mother and I settled into a booth for a cup of tea to absorb the surroundings. A lady brought her two young girls in and marvelled that it hadn't changed since her own childhood. Another more senior lady quietly wolfed down her lunch in the corner. A reminder that this wasn't a Disney take on cockney life but a local restaurant in need of support. Slightly ashamed that we had only drunk tea, I bought four takeaway pies; two mince and two rhubarb for a Monday night supper with my brother. Lucky him! My Monday at work whizzed by dreaming of pies and I can report back that it was completely delish. Reminiscent of school and lashings of custard but altogether far nicer. Get thee to the pie shop quickly!