Once the cornerstone of Cockney cuisine, a handful of family-run pie and mash shops are still keeping this London tradition deliciously alive. Today we meet Jasmine-Jade Gilbert, assistant manager of Harringtons in SW17.
‘A lady walked into the shop one day last year,’ recalls Jasmine, ‘and said, “I’m a theatre producer and I’d like to put on the musical Sweeney Todd in your shop.” I said, “OK then.”’
For a pie and mash house that prides itself on keeping the menu old-school (‘just pie, mash, liquor and eels, no desserts, no gravy’), the production that followed was quite a departure. But so good was Tooting Arts Club’s portrayal of the demon barber that Hollywood star James Franco and the show’s creator, musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim, were among those who attended performances.
Harringtons has seen many ups and downs over the 107 years it has been in Jasmine’s family. ‘Most recently, the recession has hurt,’ she says. ‘But when it’s been passed down through so many years, survived World War I and World War II, you’ve got to keep it going. Around 70 per cent of our customers are regulars, and they remind us why we do what we do, coming in every week for their usual and a bit of banter.’
3 Selkirk Road, SW17
Tube: Tooting Broadway