The Northern Quarter is full of hidden gems. Amazing restaurants and bars hidden in tiny alleyways or behind unmarked doors that just shock you with food so good you can’t wait to come back. Pie and Ale on Lever Street is definitely one of those places.
Found behind the Hive in the Northern Quarter, Pie and Ale isn’t the easiest find but then again, most places in the NQ aren’t. It’s run by the same guys who operate Bakerie – the bar/bakery/wine bar which is right next door, again on Lever Street. The two joints are very close knit businesses – they even have a shared kitchen.
Ewan and Brendan were down from Edinburgh last week and were looking for a place to grab some grub. Considering they had never eaten in the Northern Quarter, I dragged them to Pie and Ale for some errrm pies and ale!
Pie and Ale is like no other pie shop you have ever been to before. It comes complete with a large central bar surrounded by cozy booths – it even has some very comfortable outdoor seating for those warm summer days. It’s very modern and comfy but lacks character – Pie and Ale looks out of place in the NQ. I am not used to well lit spaces, non-graffitied walls and ‘light’ music in this area of town so Pie and Ale might be different but a little character might definitely help this place though. Pie and Ale however gets a big thumbs for the electric sockets at every booth – I really wish more places did this.
When the website said, ‘it’s all about the pies’, they definitely meant it. Your options are pie…..or pie. And if you fancy some pudding, you guessed it, they have a selection of dessert pies! Pie and Ale know their pies; serving a selection ranging from the traditional steak pies to the more exotic such as horse and zebra pies. Not a bad selection at all. They also have a selection of specials everyday to add to the extensive options of pies on the main menu.
Pie and Ale is not just about the pies . They have two fully stocked bars serving up cask ales from different micro-breweries including their own Yippee pie ale. The drinks menu also features over 50 different craft beers from around the world along with a huge range of whisky and other fine spirits. I love a good extensive beer menu – it gives you the option to try drinks you normally wouldn’t. We loved trying some of the more exotic fruit beers on offer including the Floris Passion and the Big Wave. Highly recommended.
I was keen to try some of the non pie options here, so ordered a few of the bar snacks to munch on whilst we waited for Seb to join us. We opted for a trio of the snacks for £12 – not bad at all. The Crispy Potato Wings with Smoked Bacon and Monterey Jack Cheese was simple but done well. I really like the Pork Bites, the minced pork, chorizo and smoked bacon meatballs albeit them being a little too crumbly for my liking. The Buffalo Wings in Smoked Apple BBQ Sauce was however a let down – the sauce was very runny and the wings lacked flavour. I would definitely order the Pork Bites again but probably give the rest of the options a miss.
Having sampled quite a lot of the different ales, we ordered what we came for, the pies. I went for the Game Pie with selected cuts of venison, wild boar and pheasant, smoked bacon, garlic, thyme and redcurrant in a rich red wine sauce. I love the pastry animal topper – made me think twice about eating my pie. The pastry was spot on – perfectly done and I absolutely loved the red wine sauce. I would have liked a little more venison in my pie but I am not complaining – I enjoyed every bite.
Seb went for one of the specials of the day, the Pork Rendang which is pork shoulder cooked in chilli, garlic, soy and lime in a peanut and coconut milk sauce. Again it came with a really cute pastry pig topper. Perfectly cooked filling and even better pastry – the South East Asian inspired flavours were delish. Enough said!
I really liked the taste of Brendan’s pie, the Rabbit and Cider Pie. Tender cuts of wild rabbit slowly cooked with smoked bacon, black pudding, parsnips & apple in a fruity cider sauce. Sounds heavenly? It was. I love my black pudding and any dish with a bit of black pudding is a winner for me. The rabbit meat melted in you mouth, literally!
Ewan wanted something lighter so opted for one of the summer dishes which comes with filo pastry instead. The 12oz kangaroo patty with chilli, lime and coriander served in a creamy mash potato filled light filo pastry shell topped with smoked bacon, Shropshire blue, crisp salad and pear was absolutely fabulous. Beautifully presented too! Having never tried Kangaroo meat, it was quite an eye opener to try this pie. The Shropshire blue cheese perfectly complimented the kangaroo meat without overpowering it and the light crisp salad on the top finished this dish off wonderfully. Highly recommended.
Pies eaten, pints downed, we cleared the bill ready to go back home and hit the sack. The pies here are massive and really filling – we definitely didn’t need the starters and had no place for pudding unfortunately. If you do fancy some pudding however, I would highly recommend the Raspberry and Lychee Tartlet. It’s one of my favourite puddings here and is the perfect ending to all of those pies.
So what do I think of Pie and Ale? I really like it. The guys at P&A have found a good niche and are clearly specialists in it. The pies here are absolutely spot on and the extensive ale menu should keep you going for a few hours without any problems. The service is quite informal but still very friendly and the waiters here are more than happy to help you pick through that massive ale menu. With options like kangaroo and horse, the pies here aren’t your typical pork pies either. I shall definitely be back for more.