24 February 2020 Pie Jackers, 17 Albert North, Middlesbrough TS1 1PQ, UK

In need of some substance on a blustery afternoon, a trip to Albert Road North was made to find out more about the mulit-award-winning, independent foodie business that is Albert North's, Pie Jackers 


"It was one of those now or never moments" explained Julie Fletcher on her and her husband Neil's move from regular day jobs to setting up Pie Jackers

"We had both worked in an office environment since leaving collage and university and our shared interest was food.

"When we got together we used to visit all these food events and we loved eating out at nice restaurants and cooking at home.

"So that was our shared hobbie if you like, so we turned the hobbie into our way of life."

And what a decision that is proving to be for the couple, who's former lives were as a PR Journalist (Julie) and Graphic Designer (Neil).

Despite having "no real catering experience" over 4-years the "very enthusiastic amateur cooks" have built Pie Jacker's into one of the most loved fixtures at local food festivals.

And having now settled into their new premises on Middlesbrough's Albert North quarter, somewhat out of the necessity of needing "a bigger kitchen", the future for this multi-award-winning company looks as vibrant as the signature yellow in their distinctive logo.

Pie Jackers is situated on Albert Road, Middlesbrough

The proof is in the eating

That this is a eatery enjoying a roaring trade and is establishing itself as a leading independent on the high street, going against the general trend nationwide, is no surprise when you sit down and sample what is on offer.

With all the pies freshly made by hand, using locally sourced ingredients, a hearty and warming satisfying meal is guaranteed, something I was particularly in need of given the particularly cold and stormy weather we've been experiencing recently.

Amongst the flavours to choose from on my visit was Chicken with White Wine & Tarragon, described as a delicious chicken packed pie, in a creamy white wine, bacon and tarragon sauce, housed in a herby shortcrust pastry.

Another tempter was Pie Jacker's Gold Standard Steak & Guinness & Black Pudding option of hearty beef, black pudding and fresh vegetables in a deep, rich Guinness gravy and featuring the very same signature herby shortcrust pastry.

Winner of seven British Pie Awards ("a bit like crufts for pies"), with two Golds, three silvers and two bronze awards to date, Julie would confirm that it was this particular pie that they "sell more than anything else."

However on this visit, it was their Moroccan Lamb offering, featuring melt in the mouth, slow cooked lamb in warming Moroccan spices, with butternut squash, chick peas, apricots and almonds, caressed in a turmeric and cumin shortcrust pasty, that would instantly grab my attention.

Pie Jacker's Moroccan Lamb Pie

Paired with two scoopfuls of creamy mash and lashings of gravy - there are the options of including wedges and/or pigs in blankets should you chose - I certainly wasn't be disappointed by my choice.

With the tender lamb at its heart, the accompanying ingredients would prove to enhance and further develop the flavour with each mouth full.

The satisfying warming and earthy notes, aided by the inclusion of turmeric and cumin within the moreish pastry, was just one aspect that had me hooked, this truly was a heavenly pie!

But I was initially at a loss to understand the prominent and contrasting sweeter flavours that had me happily going back for bite after bite.

Looking to get a hint from Julie afterwards on what their secret was, she would comment that this particular pie was her husband's "baby."

"I make a lot of the fillings, he's the pastry chef," as she explained on their usual roles, "but the Moroccan Lamb is his and he mixes his own Ras el hanout. He creates that spice blend himself."

Further investigation on this front would reveal that the authentic North African flavour of Ras el hanout - which means 'head of the shop' - is the combination of anywhere upwards of 30 separate ingredients, including; cloves, cardamon, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and saffron, to name a few.

And so perhaps this explains why I couldn't put my finger on which particular ingredients were hitting through and providing a sense of joy whilst I was eating - because it was overall effect of of them.

But this does leave you the reader with one simple solution in understanding how good this pie was - you take a trip to Albert North and sample the pie for yourself!

Tasting is believing!

"We're here to stay!"

There is further good news to report from my visit to Pie Jackers, in addition to relaying the quality of their pies, for Julie was able to confirm that they were "here to stay!"

That position had been thrown into doubt late last year, as the husband and wife team revealed to Teesside Live that they had been hit with a business rates bombshell.

This was despite having setup within an Enterprise Zone that is looking to rejuvenate the link road between Middlesbrough's train station and town centre, in what was formally Usher Forester Insurance Brokers, a building that had been left vacant for a number of years.

Speaking to the paper at the time, Julie said; 

"We can't understand why our rates would be set so much higher than other similar businesses in the town.

"We and other small businesses moving into Albert North are making the same investment, yet our rates are almost double that of other properties nearby.

"It will deter other businesses from investing here and the likelihood is we won't survive our first year."

But thankfully, following an appeal, a common sense decision has been made, with Julie happily exclaiming "Yes, we won!" when I enquired on the controversy.

That news had come only last week, with the couple eager to make the news public and "let everyone share in the victory" owing to the wealth of support and encouragement they had received from people and businesses during their battle.

However, the joy of winning had been overshadowed and that announcement delayed, due to other events during that week.

"Sadly, last week we had our van stolen" said Julie, quickly adding that they had "got it back" before understandably saying "but that kind of overtook the celebrations last week."

However Julie confirmed "we're going to let everyone know we won the rates fight" signing off with a triumphant "We're here to stay!"

Julie and Neil Fletcher, the couple behind Pie Jackers

Pie Jackers is situated at 17 Albert Road (also known as Albert North), Middlesbrough, TS1 1PQ and is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00am to 15:00pm

You can also catch Pie Jackers at various food festivals and farmers markets across the region  throughout the year.

Their next scheduled engagements are the Easingwold Artisan Food and Drink Market (29th February) and Stokesley Farmers Market (7th March).

For more details and to keep up to date with Pie Jackers latest offerings make sure you head over to their Facebook page; and hit the LIKE button.


1 comment

  1. Good on them, it sounds like they've created a place well worth visiting. Especially if you're a pie lover like me, ha!


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