Pie and Ale

27 Apr

This, my friends, is an ode to pie; that gloriously edible artefact of humble majesty. Soft, yielding, slow-cooked meat, a few of your five a day thrown in for good measure and ALL the rich, meaty gravy just waiting to spill out… your mouth waters just to think of it.* Crowned in halo of crumbly, buttery short crust pastry, (puff pastry my arse), the pie is a thing of simple beauty that, in my embarrassingly considerable pie-eating career, you simply have to indulge in every once in a while.

Whether eaten hot from a paper bag straight from the local bakery or baked and broken out round a table filled with friends, this sometimes fast, incredibly fatty and always filling food stuff is much loved – second only the Coulman family obsession with the equally unassuming pasty – though sadly something I rarely indulge in these days, and with pretty good reason.

Most mortifyingly, one particular pie eating occasion gave rise to my second most embarrassing food encounter, ever…

Many moons ago, after a demanding day of shopping and boozing, my friend Alison and I found solace and sobriety in two hefty portions of pie. Face down for a good ten minutes, we both surfaced to find ourselves being admired by four firemen, each evidently in awe at the – lets be frank – hog-like nature in which we laid waste to our pastry-topped objects of affection. Pink cheeked, crumb-nosed and as yet, unable to physically move, they passed comment, and we near passed out with shame.

Years later, just the simple recounting makes me blush. I swore I’d never touch a pie again, but who was I kidding? A heart attack in a foil tin it may be, when complex carbohydrates are your only vice, you feed the beast as sparingly as you can, and preferably in the company of many, many others who can keep your troughing in check. Then, you go for long repentant run.

So, imagine my horror when pie was touted as one of the next big trends to follow on from last year’s burger binge, quickly followed by the news that not only would Pieminister be setting up shop in Manchester, but that Bakerie’s new venture would be paying homage to pie and ale, the other major hipster food trend of 2013. The temptation to be a pie eater and a beer-swilling lout proved too much to handle. Pie and Ale was in my sights.

Much tweeting (read stalking) ensued, politely enquiring for an opening date and many months later, the oven doors creaked opened. Such was my need, I took two friends along. There’s safety and strength in numbers, so that no-one need witness my second pie-related fall from grace…

Mercifully, I behaved myself. It’s seems boys – especially those sporting sexy beards – like pie, and I hate to learn a lesson twice. Unfortunately, this also means I won’t be visiting the gaffe again.

Whilst the pastry is excellent – thick and sturdy short crust of soft yielding crumb, chock full of that buttery flavour you yearn for – the fillings, by no means disappointing, just didn’t excite. A much anticipated lamb and potato number came in a mildly, spicy tomato based sauce, and I couldn’t get past the lack of sweet, meaty juices I was hoping to be hit with. The chicken and chorizo was a vast improvement, but slightly too sweet to contemplate the whole pie, which I will warn you was of a considerable size.

Pie and Ale, Manchester

Pie and Ale, Manchester

In itself, no bad thing, but when the chef is skinny with the mash and mushy peas, both which were full of flavour and perfectly turned out, you are left with a lot of pastry to go at, which no miniature jug of red wine gravy can rescue. Thankfully, the well chosen ales on tap amply whet the whistle, most notably the Boggart Brewery Rum Porter of herbal note with a smooth and rich coffee and cocoa finish – a great brew.

Boggary Brewery Rum Porter

Boggary Brewery Rum Porter

A pie should be a flavour-filled hug that leaves you side-bustingly satiated, and if it wasn’t for the charming, funny and friendly staff and ridiculously good value on offer – my bill came in at under £12 for a plateful of pie and two half pints – I’d have felt much less magnanimous about the experience. Other than the skewed portions sizes and fillings, Pie and Ale is a great little place, but as it turns out, a pie should be worth making a fool of yourself over, and most unfortunately, these aren’t.

Lamb and Potato Pie - one of three choices updated daily at Pie and Ale

Lamb and Potato Pie – one of three choices updated daily at Pie and Ale

* When it comes to pie, it has to be meat. Who chooses vegetarian pie? Unless its cheese and onion. Thick, mature cheese slick with crunchy onion and a thick pastry crust. Choosing cheese and onion is fine.

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One Response to “Pie and Ale”

  1. Robyn April 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Ah what a shame! Sounds like Pi, Chorlton might be a better bet- no skimping on the mash and peas there 🙂 x

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