A cold and wet Friday evening in Manchester is the perfect setting for me and my companion to soak up some seriously honest comforting food and a drink. A partnership rivalled only by the likes of Batman and Robin, or wine and cheese with regards to complimenting each other. That's right, Friday evening we had Pie & Ale… at Pie & Ale.
A short walk through the illustrious quirks and bars of endless quality in the Northern Quarter and just off the bohemian heart beat that is Stevenson Square is Pie & Ale. Built into the state of the art Northern Quarter Arcade known as The Hive, Pie & Ale is modern simplicity in it's finest form. Plush leather booths, high rise ceilings and light wooden panelling across the walls bring together a wonderful contrast of the classic style pub suggested in it's name, and the contemporary and homely bar it really is. A pub at heart with a menu that most restaurants would be envious of; it's always warming to see a selection of such excellent cask ales and bottles that have trotted across the globe and arrived right here in the palm of my hand just in time for Friday night.
The Clientele and Atmosphere
As expected with any Northern Quarter bar and pub you get swayed by the cool upon entry and feel the need to grow a beard. I can't grow a beard, so we just ordered plenty of top notch ale from across the country, settled into our booth and listened to a selection of rock and roll tracks i've not heard in any establishment in Manchester in the last five years. Comfortably busy with after work drinkers, Friday night eaters and the real ale loving regulars that are camped out at the bar the place has a welcoming buzz, laid back, easy going, simple. As simple as pie some might say.
This is where the real quality raises it's head. Never have I seen a menu that was full of so many combinations of flavours matched with lashings of Ales and endless bourbons all delivered with a smile and infectious enthusiasm by our waitress Toni. She knew the menu like the back of her hand and gave us the tools with which to enjoy a hearty helping of pie and ale. We kick started with a six half pint taster session, sampling beers such as Mad Hatter Pale Ale, a real hoppy number, and a rare sample in the Hawk head brewery bitter. Some rich coffee aromas from my home county in North Yorkshire in a dark and brooding likely Brewery Beer and sunk them down along with golden pale ale from Wales named Glaslyn.
As the half pints turned into no pints, we decided it was about time we ordered some food to soak up the lashings of booze we'd been brought. The specials were reeled off and having spent most of 2013 in Australia I couldn't turn down another chance to have a great big slice of Kangaroo pie. Served with creamy mash and gravy it was hearty, succulent and worth it's weight in gold. After being wisely told to man up and order dessert we decided upon Banoffee pie with salted caramel and cream (we did have it to share mind you). Its simple food, with explosive flavours wrapped up in a comfortable bow of top service and laid back attitudes. Perfect Friday nights if you ask me.
Pie & Ale, a contemporary, quality Northern Quarter pub with nothing but your interests at heart. They know how good their pies are, and all they want to do is tell you which of their ales will wash it down best. They're stand up guys and gazelles, and I like them, a lot. So from now on you can find me on a Friday eating and drinking at my new favourite Northern Quarter bar, Pie & Ale.