I am increasingly distressed to note that my smug, insular existence - an existence that has seen me happily ensconced in the walled environs of Didsbury for many a year - has been somewhat under threat of late. Firstly, there's my new favourite restaurant, Damson, which lies across the border in Heaton Moor and therefore necessitates the procuring of a taxi cab, often on a Saturday night. Now, it seems that I am going to have to find a job in Altrincham, or at least an excuse to visit pretty much every Saturday, in order to feed my new lunchtime obsession: Pitta Crepe.
Now, I was a little sceptical about this too. On a Saturday just before Christmas, with a delicious mixture of sleet, rain and snow falling merrily from the leaden skies, street food was pretty much the last thing on my mind, which was veering far more naturally towards an afternoon on the sofa watching a black and white film and eating the remnants of the birthday chocolates. And yet an unassuming mobile kitchen, tucked away in the Stamford Quarter and manned by the most cheerful man in Britain, has today served me some of the best food I've eaten in ages - and that includes the meal where I sat by the Christmas tree in my pyjamas and ate five types of cheese for dinner.
Pitta Crepe has been going for about eight months, slowly building a large and loyal following who seemingly tweet daily about their love for the Moroccan Lamb Pitta: minced, spiced lamb served in a flatbread with salad, yoghurt and chilli sauce. This is their best-seller (with Chicken Tikka a close second), and it is easy to see why. The lamb is succulently tasty, and manages to be at once robust and delicately flavoured - Mr Liz literally gazed at it open-mouthed until he was thrown a scrap, at which point he immediately retired with it, growling at all comers until the treat was safely snaffled. Not that he wasn't much amused with his own gargantuan Bratwurst, hand-made by WH Frosts in Chorlton (is there a single foodie pie that Frosty doesn't have his finger in?) and served with onions and potato wedges. This one is a seasonal offering only, although has proved so popular that owner Simon is thinking of keeping it on as a regular (I'm pretty sure Mr Liz will put his signature to this if required) once the festivities have finished - it's worth getting one before next Saturday though, just in case he changes his mind.
This magical pocket kitchen also sells sweet and savoury crepes, and even has some alcohol-free mulled wine to wash it all down with. Prices are silly for food of this quality, with my large lamb pitta costing just £3.50 (and with hindsight, the regular size would have been plenty) and Mr Liz's sausage-fest £4.50. There is even a covered seating area alongside the van to protect hungry folk from the elements, or Simon will happily foil-wrap food so it can be taken home (although I suspect anything I tried to transport in this manner would not survive the car journey home).
The only downside? It was cold in Altrincham today, so cold that to defrost our hands we were FORCED to go to the nearby Brew House and drink more mulled wine - just to warm up, you understand. Last time we came here it was our beloved Le Trappiste, so it is with some relief that we note that it seems just as welcoming as ever - the decor is the same (although Tin Tin has gone), the staff just as lovely, and the selection of Belgian beers still healthy despite the emphasis now on this as a world beers bar.
In fact, after a quick trip to the market as well, today reminded me how much I like Altrincham - where else can you go home with a belly full of lamb pitta and a handbag full of kippers? They may, of course, wish to use this as their advertising slogan in future...
- Pitta Crepe is opposite Rackhams in Altrincham, and is open Monday to Saturday.
- The Brew House is at 18 Shaws Road, Altrincham WA14 1QU.