My first encounter with these was at last year's world vegan day, and unfortunately they were still frozen in the middle when I dug into a few of them. I wasn't blown away by them as they seemed to be too heavy on the oily pastry rather than the fillings. The fillings were also too chunky, with massive morsels of "chicken". All the flavours are good, but the chilli-non carne is one I won't be trying again. My favourite item from the funky pies people is not a pie at all, but their bacon and mushroom quiche. The brownies are pretty good too.
I was lucky enough to make a visit to the actual cafe in Bondi last year and sampling the rest of their menu was a pure delight and judging by k's recent post, they have raised the bar even higher.
Rating - 3.5/5
Linda McCartney country pies
How excited I was to find out that these were available in Melbourne after remembering a pleasant experience with them when I was in England a couple of years ago. It was, however, a distorted memory, clouded with tasty potatoes and gravy that covered up for the flavourlessness of the pie. After the first few bites I felt a slight confusion. "Where is the flavour?", I asked myself. I ate a little more and realised that there wasn't any. I finished it, but the taste of betrayal lingered for a few more hours.
Like most things in life, parallels can be drawn with the entire Wings catalogue. Linda McCartney foods have put out a few good things, I admit that the sausages are nice, much like Wings' "Live and let die", but there are a lot of things that went wrong (e.g. sausage rolls and all the lacto-ovo stuff/the rest of Wings' records, excluding "Band on the run" and, depending on my mood, "Mull of Kintyre").
Rating - 1/5
While in Sydney last year I checked out most of the must try eateries and sampled two of the pies on offer at Naked Espresso. While I feel they are closer to my ideal pie than the Funky and Linda McCartney ones, they lack a crucial element, structural integrity. The photo below demonstrates this.
As you can see, there is no unity between the filling and the pastry (and it's not just because of the way I'm holding it ;) ). It looks like it has been deflated. One wrong move and you can say goodbye to all that filling. It's a strange problem as it was a non-issue when I experienced my first vegan pie all those years ago at a humble Preston bakery/cult-ery.
Rating - 4/5
Going to La Panella is like visiting an old friend who has become slightly whacky, bleached their hair and made a million friends who are willing to give them large sums of money to set up their own T.V. network, but they still know how to make a nice pie. The pastry is thick enough to hold the filling together, maintains its structural integrity once bitten into and has the perfect T.V.P., gravy and vegetable ratio. True, sometimes I can't tell the difference between the plain vegetable and mushroom pie, but there is such amazing synergy between the core ingredients that I can easily disregard it.
Besides the unbeatable value, the biggest plus for these pies is that they can make carcass munchers unconsciously make an ethical food choice for once in their otherwise heartless lives. Luckily(?) the supreme master's followers are growing so there may be more of this type of thing happening around the place.
Rating - 5/5
Special mention: Janet's pies in Newtown make a couple of vegan pies with only vegetables!?! in them. Nevertheless they are filling and borderline healthy. Here's a succinct but informative blog post by a sydneysider.