Tuesday, 18 December 2007

The Steak and Ale Pastry Sandwich

Today I discovered a completely new species of pie.

I dined this evening in the Greyhound pub in the village of Siddington, Gloucestershire, where I ordered - with a certain amount of anticipation, and not a little drool - the steak and 6X pie (for this is an establishment selling the fine ales of the Wadworth brewery).

Having not eaten pie for a seemingly long time, my expectations of the imminent feast were quite high, if a little guarded. One can never completely predict the nature of a pie in an unfamiliar establishment, as has been noted elsewhere.

In short time, the plate arrived resplendent with what can only be described as a pastry sandwich. Indeed, at first I mistook it for a baguette, and was about to summon the waiter briskly back to the table with a tart complaint about the wrong order.

My rebuff died on my lips as I fully beheld the construction before me. A piece of puff pastry - a sizeable piece, one would generously allow - had been baked in the oven until tall and crisply robust. It had then been sliced in a plane parallel to the plate, as one would a croissant, perhaps, or a curly roll.

The so-called filling of tasty steak and Wadworth's Finest had subsequently been sandwiched - there is simply no other word - between the pastry pieces. By which I mean it had been poured over the lower piece, and the other piece had been perched with some ceremony and gravitas atop.

The whole was presented with a reasonable portion of chips, peas and a generous quantity of gravy - the latter due in no small part to the fact that two pieces of pastry with flat edges will not contain stew for any length of time, however thick the gravy sauce.

I was quite surprised, a little put out, but fundamentally undaunted (and rather peckish). So I tucked into the thing with as much relish and gusto as could be summoned.

It was, on balance, rather pleasant. For my money, the filling could have been a little more peppery, a little more spicy. The steak itself leaned towards wholesome rather than tender. And the gravy could have been richer. But seeing as it wasn't my money that was paying for this feast, I smacked my lips and cleaned my plate.

It wasn't a True Pie, though.

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