Have you ever discovered a restaurant and said, “This is it. This is that hole-in-the-wall place that I am going to frequent all the time. I am going to bring everyone I know here, because this place is awesome.” Well, that’s what I said to myself when I discovered Cornish Pasty Co.
How I discovered Cornish Pasty Co. is an amusing story. I was having some after work libations at another Tempe restaurant with a few of my co-workers when the bartender there told us we were paying too much for our drinks. I’m pretty sure our faces twisted up into confused looks. “Um, you’re telling us we’re paying too much at your restaurant?” He went on to tell us about Cornish Pasty Co. It’s where he and all of the other bartenders, waiters and waitresses from that particular restaurant would go to eat and drink when their shifts were over. We promptly paid our bill and went to seek out this mystic Cornish Pasty Co. without any idea of what we were about to discover.
Cornish Pasty Co. is located in a non-descript strip mall at University and Hardy in Tempe. It’s a tiny, narrow and dark space. Perfect, I think, for a restaurant that serves up dishes from Cornwall inspired by the lunches of miners. So, what exactly is a pasty? (Oh, and by the way, it is pronounced PASS-TEE.) Cornish Pasty Co.’s website gives this history:
“The Cornish Pasty originates from Cornwall (Southwest England) and can be traced back as far as the 1200’s. Mining was once a thriving industry in Cornwall and at that time pasties were baked by the wives and mothers of the tin miners. Pasties were made with a thick crimped edge along one side so the miners could use the crimp as a handle to hold onto while eating. The miners’ hands would often be covered in arsenic from the mine, so the miners would discard the handle when they were done. The crusts were never wasted though, as many miners believed that ghosts, or “knockers” inhabited the mines, and the leftover crusts would keep these ghosts content. Traditionally, pasties were made with different fillings at each end. One end containing meat and vegetables, and one end with a sweet filling. The sweet end would be marked with an initial so the miners knew what side to eat first. Today, Cornish Pasties are filled with steak, potatoes, swede (rutabaga) and onions. At one time Cornwall had nearly 2,000 flourishing tin mines, but by the 1800’s tin mining had become a rapidly declining industry. Att his time, Cornish miners began immigrating to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for copper mining bringing pasties with them throughout mining towns across America as well as the British Isles.”
So basically, the easiest way for me to explain what a pasty is that, it’s dough filled with yummy ingredients then baked to perfection, almost like a calzone, but not Italian. Cornish Pasty Co. has a long menu full of pasty options, including vegetarian options. I would recommend trying a traditional pasty on your first visit, then moving on from there. On my most recent visit I had the Chicken Tikka Masala (red curry) pasty and my fiancé had The Chicken Greek. We were both happy with our choices. The Tikka Masala pasty comes filled with marinated chicken breast, tikka masala sauce (red curry), green peppers and potatoes with a side of mint yogurt dressing and tahini. The Chicken Greek is filled with chicken breast, spinach, fresh mozzarella, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichokes and roasted garlic with a side of tahini and tzatziki.
One of my favorite things about Cornish Pasty Co., aside from the food, is that they have a fantastic beer selection at reasonable prices. From Boddingtons, Strongbow Hard Cider and many more on tap, to over two dozen bottled choices, you’ll be sure to find a great brew to complement your pasty. On this particular visit they had Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter on tap, win! Two things to note here, Cornish Pasty Co. has happy hour daily from 3-6pm and 10pm — close. They are also known for their $3 Car Bombs (Guinness, Bailey’s and whiskey). $3 all the time.
To finish out our meal, we ordered the Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding, which I had not noticed on the menu before. Made with homemade bread, baked in rich chocolate brandy sauce and served with crÃ¨me aglaise or ice cream, this is hands down the best dessert I have ever had anywhere. Chocolatey, warm and moist on the inside, and crispy on the outside I instantly proclaimed that for all future birthdays this would be my birthday cake. On my next visit, I may or may not order the Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding before my dinner, it’s that good.
Cornish Pasty Co. has two Greater Phoenix locations. Tempe (where we visited for this post) at 960 W. University, Suite 103 and Mesa, at 1941 W. Guadalupe. More photos from our visit to Cornish Pasty Co. can be found on Flickr.