Save some room after Thanksgiving, because chef George Dingle of Monsieur Benjamin will be taking over the kitchen of Casements Irish bar with pies and mash on Tuesday, December 1. Because while Monsieur Benjamin may be impeccably French, butter lovers may not realize that the chef is in fact a Brit, and oh yes, he knows how to make a proper British pie. We’re talking savory meat pies with a crumbly hot water pastry, an upper crust of pub fare that’s rarely seen in San Francisco.
Dingle is originally from Southwest England, and cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants in London and the Cotswolds, before crossing the pond to join the Corey Lee restaurant group. During the pandemic, he started making the pies for family meal at Monsieur Benjamin, as something special for the downsized staff. And he also started hanging out after work at Casements, where he says he didn’t realize quite how much he missed curry chips until walking into the bar.
For this British-Irish mash-up pop-up, the menu is short and sweet. Choose from two types of pie, the very British beef and onion, with the hot water crust fluted into ruffles, or the somewhat more familiar chicken pot pie, with puff pastry on top for extra layers and loft. “Isn’t chicken pot pie an Americanization?” this writer asked with suspicion. “The term chicken pot pie is American, but a chicken pie is English as well, if you know what I mean,” says Dingle. “It’s one of those things that kind of comes through immigration to America. Things get brought over and rebranded American.”
A pie calls for potatoes, of course, and these will be served up mashed, doused in gravy, and topped with frizzled onions. Anything green? Maybe peas? “No, nothing green in sight,” says the chef. “A solely beige meal.” That wouldn’t be complete without a pint, and Casements will be including a sparkly new Nelson pale ale from Standard Deviant, which should wash down the crumbs with suds. But if you need a kicker, a gin and tonic also wouldn’t be amiss to cut through all that richness, and Casements does have a full library of modern Irish gins.
Tickets go live on the Casements site Thursday, with options to either sit down in the big back patio, or get takeout. Co-owner Gillian Fitzgerald and the whole team at Casements are making every effort to serve up comfort while keeping the scenario safe, so they’re spacing out both the tables and the timing. A pie, mash, and a pint rings in at $27 per person, and promises to be a delicious way to support a local bar and brewery, all in one.