Down Under, in Red Hook

For years my Aussie husband searched the city in vain, desperate for something approximating Australian meat pie, the dietary staple more popular in his native land than pizza and Chinese takeout are here. Traditionally filled with beef and gravy, the savory pies are beloved quick lunches or snacks at footy games; Australia’s top pie maker, Four’N Twenty, produces 50,000 pies per hour. But NYC was bereft of meat pies until Gareth Hughes launched DUB (Down Under Bakery) Pies in late ‘04. Proper Aussie pies! (OK, Gareth is from New Zealand, but close enough.) Initially a peripatetic wholesale operation, DUB Pies has settled on the Red Hook waterfront at Columbia and Degraw, open seven days a week.

The shop offers the most authentic Aussie meat pies available in the States—antipodean classics like steak mince and chunky steak pies, featuring top-grade meat bound with rich onion gravy and encased in the loving arms of flaky pastry. My delighted mate claims they’re the best he’s eaten, even counting those back home. The main deviation is that DUB uses better ingredients, but we’re willing to overlook the lack of gristle and rancid meat traditionally crammed into the fast-food staple.

While meat pies are the star attraction, DUB’s individual bestseller is its concession to vegetarians, a vegetable medley bathed in a lightly spicy curry. Another perennially popular pie is the Philly cheesesteak-like steak and white cheddar, a New Zealand staple, but heresy to expat Aussies. “I’ve had death threats,” Hughes says. “They write me to say ‘you do not put cheese in pies.’”

The core menu offers a dozen pies, but Hughes has a repertoire of four dozen and plans to introduce experimental rotating specials like Thai chicken and smoked fish and sweet potato pies. Also on the drawing board are plans to expand DUB Pies to more locations, starting with a shop on Atlantic Avenue. Until then, expats and adventurous natives can voyage to Red Hook for a taste of Australia’s iconic national dish. And you don’t have to get your passport stamped.

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