Cornish Pasty Co.
960 W University Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85281
There’s a long tradition of pasty (rhymes with “nasty”--that other thing is what a stripper wears) in the Midwest. I, apparently lacking in foodie-knowledge, assumed they had their origins there. After a rather confusing conversation with the bartender of Cornish Pasty Co., I discovered these little bundles of yumminess started in the good old U.K, and the owner of the Cornish Pasty Co. hales from there as well. For those who are unfamiliar, think a really big, really delicious hot pocket that usually involves potato, meat, and veggies.
The Cornish Pasty Co. resides in a space that appears to have been converted from a bar with the area behind the bar operating as an open kitchen. There’s seating at the bar, and a few narrow tables against the far wall. It can be a bit tight when the place is packed, though I find the space relaxed (“dive” would work as well) and always like watching people cook my food. The purse hooks under the bar are a selling point with me as well.
I had some concerns in reading reviews that the staff might be unfriendly at Cornish Pasty. Hardly. They are heavily tattooed and some even boarder on surly, but our server, bartender, and even the line cooks were all happy to chat, tell us about the menu, drink specials (happy hours 3-6 and after 10), the history of pasty, and the best things to order. I suspect people who are put off by the staff are put off by their looks, not their attitudes. I was impressed when one of the line cooks leaned across the bar to take our orders on a particularly busy night to give the server a break and lessen out wait time.
Of course, the real star of Cornish Pasty Co. is the pasty. There’s an enormous selection ranging from traditional meat and potatoes to the more exotic (Mexican, Indian, Italian). One pasty is a huge meal and at about $8 each, a good value.
We’ve eaten there several times over the past few months. I started off slow with a more traditional pasty—a Veggie Oggie. The combination of portabellas, potatoes, rutabaga, and onions was amazing. I got mine with HP sauce (I was told this is a “British version of ketchup” though it tastes a bit like A1 to me). Totally delicious. The crust was flaky and the filling was flavorful.
On the second trip, I ordered the Veggie Pesto Chicken. I was pleasantly surprised. The vegetarian menu is extensive. I normally veer away from imitation meat products, but the Quorn brand they use at Cornish Pasty is great. I did feel like this pasty was a little on the dry side, necessitating a second helping of HP sauce, but the flavors were right on (and a line cook hooked me up with more sauce right away).
My dining companion has opted for the meat selections each time and was particularly pleased with The Porky (pork, potato, apples, sage), which he prefered over the Oggie.
I have yet to make it to the sides or dessert, but I intend to push one of the carnivores into the Royale with Cheese for my personal amusement and to order a selection of desserts and sides for the table tonight since we will have a larger party. One of the line cooks told me his favorite pasty is the Mexican, so I plan to give it a go tonight.
It says something about this place that with all the choices, we’re taking our friends here tonight.
I’ll let you know how it goes.