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Saturday, 22 January 2011

Accidental Lunch at The Didsbury Yields Unexpected Pie Triumph

I think it can be generally agreed that shopping is a tiring business. Not only do you have to walk from your house to the car, and then from the carpark to the shops, but factor in that you are wearing FitFlop boots and have purchased three pairs of Office shoes and two bottles of pink champagne that your husband refuses to carry, and you are pretty much looking at full-on exhaustion.

Thus it was that we accidentally ended up stopping off at The Didsbury for lunch on the way home; it just looked so inviting, and as I was by now dangerously thin from carrying the heavy bags etc it made sense to call in for an enormous meal. The Didsbury is always busy, and our visit didn't get off to the most auspicious start - we waited for five minutes to be seated as a number of staff ran around with plates, resolutely ignoring us, and then were sent to the least desirable table in the whole place.

Spotting that a tantrum was fast approaching, Mr Liz quickly distracted me with the menu, and more specifically the excellent value lunch deal, and then indeed all was well. Monday to Saturday, between 12 and 5pm, you can choose from selected main dishes priced between £4.99 and £6.49, and then pick a starter or dessert for just £2; otherwise I would never have had a starter - I am due at a dinner party in a shade over three hours and currently feel like a wafer thin mint would tip me over the edge.

Still, at £2 a throw it would be rude not to, so I had the chicken and honey pate and Mr Liz went for the stilton mushrooms; both were delicious, with a tell-tale blob of stilton, cream and peppercorn sauce remaining in the centre of the table throughout our meal as sadly incontrovertible evidence of my mushroom thievery. This being The Didsbury, portion control had gone wildy awry, with generous piles of light-as-a-feather toast meaning that I was more or less full by the time the waitress removed our plates (with barely a glance at the greedy-girl mushroom splodge - very professional.)

Luckily I had only ordered a modest, low-fat main course. Oh no, wait, I've actually ordered the world's biggest plate of food - steak and ale pie with chips, veg and gravy. Now, my husband reckons himself something of a pie expert, hailing as he does from up near Wigan; indeed, he asked that he be referred to in this post as a "pie witness", with a smirk on his face that suggested he was most pleased with this rather lame witticism. He proclaimed The Didsbury pie a triumph - a proper, free-standing, pastry-all-the-way-round-none-of-this-pie-in-a-pot-with-just-pastry-on-the-top nonsense, and filled with a richly unctious mix of tender meat and sticky gravy. You can also tell a lot about a pub by the quality of its vegetables, many of which are mushy, watery specimens, but my carrots were nicely al dente and the broccoli and cauliflower still had a good bit of bite (I suspect this may be the reason my husband married me - eat all the vegetables and leave half the pie for hungry boys to hoover up.)

All in all, the meal was excellent value at £8.49 a head, even though it has made my trousers a little too tight. Still, three hours is a long time - I'm sure I'll be able to manage another few courses by then, although I might just go and seek out some loose-waisted trousers, just in case.

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