The Takaka Top Shop does a bustling trade. The pies come out fresh from the oven throughout the day, and their popularity from morning till evening ensures they’re never dried out or drooping. The shop’s wide selection of pies sorts the tourists from the locals: locals know their favourites and wait impatiently in line as tourists marvel at the array, struggling to choose. There are a few kiwiana exotic flavours (satay beef, sweet chilli mince) but the range really excels in the steak and something flavour options.
The single ‘vegie’ pie looked a little lonely, and in a store frequented mostly by straight-up-and-down farmer types, I’m guessing it’s not the best bet in the warmer. In fact, in a town known for its hippy flavour, this sole misspelt pie might be sending a message to the alternative folks that this store will never be their turf: best head to the Wholemeal Cafe.
The pastry was deliciously short, just the right level of crumbly, and perfectly browned. We tried the lambs fry and bacon, and it was a winner. Liver is always risky in a pie: think overcooked, dry, and as hard as the hobs of hell. But it works in this pie. The gravy is dark, rich, moist and just the right level of salty, offsetting the cooked-through liver. And thanks to New Zealand’s tendency to classify not-so-young sheep as lamb, it had an almost-hoggety goodness flavour about it.
The chicken and leek was also delicious. Especially delicious was the leek, which hadn’t been boiled down to a mushy sludge, but was still visible in bright green bursts throughout the pie. And as is essential in a chicken pie, I could taste the pepper. The chicken was generous, and I’m guessing they use some dark leg or thigh meat, rather than simply breast, as the meat was soft and rich, and cut in just the right bitesize chunks.
All in all, Takaka Top Shop is a fine pie place, and on the outskirts of town it’s the perfect spot for picking up lunch before facing the winding Takaka Hill road, or if you’re a Solly’s truck driver, your first port of call for a bite after navigating the longest hill road in New Zealand. Our hire car has a perfect pie stash compartment too, which was useful and really should be a standard design feature in this country.
Nice one, Top Shop, you do Kiwi piemakers proud.