At risk of playing up to regional stereotypes, I’m going to have to put something out there.
As a Geordie in Manchester, there are a couple of things I love, and I’m sure these are two things that any self-respecting northerner loves too.
The real pinnacle of culinary prowess, the holy grail of savoury and sweet, a meal self-contained in its own entirely delicious, edible housing… ladies and gentleman, the humble pie.
And what could be a more fitting accompaniment to this warming dish which has satisfied the appetites of those craving a filling, delicious and compact meal for generations gone, but ale.
Yes, ale. One syllable, (two depending on where you’re from) no mucking about and to be enjoyed by the gallon.
So where better for a north eastern lad in the north west to discover? A place that could unite us all; where borders don’t create divides; a place where we think of ourselves as simply, The North.
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Pie & Ale.
Stemming from those behind Bakerie and located just seconds behind it in the city’s Northern Quarter, Pie & Ale is a no-nonsense gastro-pub which can still do battle with any other trendy restaurant in the area.
Walking through the main entrance towards the bar, it feels as though you’ve stumbled through the kitchen and are lucky enough to get a sneak-peak at the goods being rustled up for eligible punters – it’s a great first impression.
Steaming pies fresh out of the oven with glistening pastry and the unmistakeable aroma of fresh bread greet you at the door, and surely it’s only the hip surroundings which stop each customer bursting into a verse of “fooooood, glorious fooooooood.” Surely.
Anyway, as a spin-off of Bakerie, Pie & Ale is similarly laid out with sleek wooden benches and bar tops, with a handy blackboard around the wall detailing the offers and pies of the day.
Before getting stuck into any pastry goodness, a drink from the range of ales had to be decided.
A decent range described eloquently by the helpful bar staff, including one brewed by the company, was on hand – but it was the Natural Progression which was the most enjoyable.
A fruity and light amber beer, it would go well with any of the pies which were on offer.
On our visit, there was a choice of mince and onion; chicken, bacon and mushroom and four cheese so we plumped for the first two and they were served with mash and peas.
MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN: Pie and ale… at Pie & Ale
With choice of sides perhaps a tad restrictive, they had to be good, and the mash was as soft and creamy as I’ve ever tried, with the peas – a bright, fresh green – also managing to maintain that little ‘pea’ texture always favoured to just ‘mush’.
With any great pub, you need great music, and our ale and pie meal was washed down with the sweet sounds of the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Fleetwood Mac, making the venue upbeat enough to pop into for just a sample of ale.
Now, it’s difficult to describe a pie.
A mince and onion pie is what it is, and as long as the meat is tender and has been seasoned properly, and the pastry is the right balance between crisp and chewy, you’re looking at a winner.
Luckily, this one was just that.
As with the chicken pie, which was literally packed to the brim with filling, oozing a creamy sauce around very generous chunks of meat.
Perhaps in this area and with this standard of simple but fantastically cooked food, you’re thinking that this must cost a pretty penny – but fear not, as with twenty quid you’ll have enough for a meal and a few ales on top.
They also run an enviable happy hour price list with ales from £2 a pint – and a two pint pitcher of any ale, any time is just £5.75.
The happy hour runs from 3pm-7pm Monday to Friday and all day Sunday.
So take advantage and embrace our northern stereotypes, because if it means we get to eat and drink like this, then who cares?
Pie & Ale is situated in The Hive, off Lever Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1FN. Telephone 0161 228 1610 for enquiries.
Opening hours are Sunday to Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-midnight.