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Nov 16, 2007 11:09 AM

Best Shepard Pie in the Bay Area?

Just wondering since it is a hit or miss usually

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  1. I've quite liked the offering at O'Reilly's in North Beach, with the addition of cheddar to the topping.

    1. i cant speak to "best" but i thought the SP at the Chieftain was decent [SF: 5th & howard].

      also you could try chez maman in potrero hill. at least if hachis parmentier counts.

      i'll be interested in what others suggest in sf/berkeley area too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: psb

        The best SP that I know of is at Hannigan's in Los Gatos. I love to order it on a cold winter day, keeps me warm and full for hours.

      2. I've never had a good shepard's pie at a restuarant. For a start they all seem to use ground beef instead of lamb. Traditionally the meat is in chunks, not ground. The dish made with ground beef is really a Cottage Pie.

        11 Replies
        1. re: JockY

          Kensington Circus (in Kensington) serves shepard's pie w/ lamb, i.e., not a cottage pie. I haven't had one but the fish and chips are good.

          1. re: JockY

            Chunks wouldn't work for me and I've never seen it that way in Ireland. My fave has always been my (Irish) wife's. She does 2/3rds ground lamb and 1/3rd ground beef. Never thought to look for it in a restaurant. Having said that, all our Irish friends are raving about John Campbell's on Geary. I bet he does a good one. Never been, just a gut feeling, would love a report.

            1. re: NoeMan

              Ground or chunks - I guess it's a matter of personal preference so long as the meat is lamb. It's one of those dishes that has any number of variations depending on whose mother/grandmother (and on back through time) made it at home.

              1. re: JockY

                Thank goodness for Grandmas.

                I think they minced the meat because as original peasant food the quality/cut of meat was probably poor and would make for chewy chunks. Tender chunks of good meat would be great.

                1. re: NoeMan

                  That's a good point. Like the idea that the corned beef and cabbage we dish up on St Patrick's Day is a traditional Irish food. The average Irish peasant in the 19th century would give his eye teeth for corned beef. It was more likely to be the toughest cut of meat imaginable, boiled to death to make it edible.

                  But, all this talk of shepherd's pie got me craving some so that's what I made for dinner tonight.

                  1. re: JockY

                    That sounds like a good approach, when in doubt make your own.

                    In Ireland back then and now they actually have bacon and cabbage, more pigs than cows handy I guess. Corned beef was the closest thing they could find over here so it became the substitute, and later an Irish American institution.

                    1. re: JockY

                      >>"The average Irish peasant in the 19th century would give his eye teeth for corned beef. It was more likely to be the toughest cut of meat imaginable, boiled to death to make it edible."

                      Not to suggest that corned beef comes from Ireland, but it does come from the toughest part of the cow (brisket). As you say, only boiling, basting, or smoking it beyond well-done makes it edible.

                      1. re: JockY

                        My understanding is that corned beef & cabbage is a traditional Irish American dish rather than a traditional Irish one. That said it is made from the toughest cut (brisket) and boiled to death to make it edible.

                2. re: JockY

                  Never knew about the lamb. I always had the beef version. Makes more sense about why it is called Shepherd's. Wikipedia mentions the lamb, but says it is minced.

                  What does the original poster consider a good version. What have been the hits and what are the misses?

                  Haven't tried it but the new Wunder Brewery on 9th near Iriving has it ... the ground beef version

                  There's a cool new site that searches restaurants for a specific dish. In addition to the places mentioned in this thread has anyone tried it at
                  - Tiernan's

                  Under the spelling Shepherd's pie, only O'Reilly's that has been mentioned, makes it with lamb. Any one tried it at
                  - Durty Nellie's
                  - Elephant & Castle
                  - Fiddler's Green
                  - Irish Bank
                  - Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar
                  - Pig and Whistle
                  - The Bitter End

                  1. re: rworange

                    Good website find. It also lists Liverpool Lil's as using lamb, BTW.

                    1. re: rworange

                      For anyone confused, "mince" in the UK = ground in the US. At the butchers one orders lamb mince, pork mince, beef mince, etc.

                  2. Has anyone tried John Campbell's version? I assume you can get it at the Blarney Stone if you don't want to do takeout. I've heard that Durty Nellie's in the Sunset also serves Shepherd's Pie..

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      Blarney Stone only serves food for brunch on the weekend and the menu doesn't list shepherd's pie. I'm sure though since it is John Campbell's that is providing the food for brunch, they would heat up a shepherd's pie if asked.

                    2. Thanks to this thread, I just tried John Campbell's for the first time. Yummy. His Shepherd's Pie is made with ground beef. I didn't try it, but the Chicken Curry Pastie, Beef Pastie, Sausage Roll, Chocholate Chip Scone, and Plain Scone were all very good. I especially enjoyed the Beef Pastie (fresh out of the oven), and I assume that the same or similar filling is used for the Shepherd's Pie. BTW - Warning on the Chicken Curry Pastie - it's much spicier than the English versions I've tried.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kresge86

                        Sounds great. Thanks for the report.