If you haven't been to the Tempe or Mesa branches of Dean Thomas' Cornish Pasty Co., pause your reading, grab your keys and drive over there now. Seriously, it's that good. Few people dislike this place, judging by the near 5-star average of the whopping 287 current ratings on Yelp. The Urbanspooners love it too, as does everyone I've introduced to the place.
The original Cornish Party Co. in Tempe is a tiny one-room joint with a pub counter overlooking the galley kitchen. Black-and-white photos on the walls highlight the story of the restaurant's signature dish: the pasty. Pronounced "PASS-tee" (because "PACE-tees" go on your nipples, not in your mouth), the dish was reportedly created as a way for Cornish miners to enjoy lunch without accidentally ingesting the toxic crap on their hands. What do they taste like? "Imagine a pot pie and a hot pocket had a baby," writes LikeMe user Jessica Hill. Translation = seriously effing yummy.
In addition to the traditional beef and root veggie filled Oggie, Cornish Pasty Co. carries everything from Tikka Masala and Bangers & Mash pasties to vegetarian versions and ones stuffed with PB&J for the kids. My partner and I ordered The Pilgrim, which basically crams all of the essentials of Thanksgiving dinner into one pastry pocket. Gastrointestinal distress, here we come!
The crust was buttery and crisp, browned to perfection. It made me feel sorry for the miners who were forced to discard the braided "handle" part of their pasties. Biting in, we were immediately overwhelmed by two ingredients: grilled onions and sweet potatoes. "The onions leave a really bitter taste in my mouth," voiced my disappointed companion. Fresh as they were, huge chunks of onion were way too much for the subtle flavor of turkey meat.
Lightly spiced sweet potatoes were delightful on their own, but as a component of the dish there were far too many of them. Poor little turkey. I could barely taste any meat above the richness of the potatoes, crust, pungent onions and super-sweet cranberry dipping sauce. A handful of stuffing cubes added starchy filler to the already carb-heavy dish, moistened well by scrumptious red wine gravy.
Balancing the ingredients with more meat, no onions, and less potatoes would've helped this pasty to truly imitate a good Turkey Day meal. If your favorite part is Aunt Sally's marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, you might like The Pilgrim. Otherwise, stick with the tastier Rosemary Chicken, Oggie or Tikka Masala versions.