Beef Stew Review: Tilted Kilt vs. Seamus McCaffrey's

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Open since 1992, Seamus McCaffrey's Irish Pub and Restaurant has become a downtown Phoenix landmark serving cold brews and traditional eats for years. They've got an impressive selection of drinks and serve food early and late. So when "Irish pub" chain Tilted Kilt opened up in the new CityScape development, we had to put the new kid up the block to the test.

The Dish: Irish Beef Stew

In One Corner: Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery, 2 E. Jefferson, 602-293-3888

The Set Up: We -- and apparently every businessman in town -- headed over to the Tilted Kilt for lunch. After circling the seemingly impenetrable CityScape walls for several minutes we finally located the entrance and were greeted by the...perky Titled Kilt servers. Despite the off-putting corny name, we ordered up a bowl of "Olde Dublin Irish Stew."

Pros: The stew was flavorful and had a good consistency, not too heavy but more hearty than a soup--although not much. The side of garlic bread and centerpiece of mashed potatoes were good additions and were pretty tasty drenched in Guinness beef stock.

Cons: Everything was going well until we stumbled up a hunk of beef pot roast. In one terrible, meal-ruining moment our dreams of tender beef were destroyed when the meat turned into a powdery mouthful of sawdust upon intake. Enough said.

In the Other Corner: Seamus McCaffrey's Irish Pub and Restaurant 18 West Monroe, (602) 253-6081

The Set Up: We bellied up to a high top in the dimly lit pub for a quick lunch. The place was pretty empty but our server was friendly, quick...and fully clothed. We ordered a bowl of Irish Beef Stew and soaked up the authenticity, complete with Celtic music in playing in the background.

Pros: This stew featured hearty chunks of carrots and potatoes as well as smaller and much more manageable pieces of beef. The meat was appropriately cooked and the accompaniment of soda bread would have made any Irishman (woman) proud.

Cons: Because of the size of the pieces of potatoes and carrots, this dish required the use of spoon, fork and knife. Also, eating stew inside a stuffy pub? We wouldn't recommend it again.

The Verdict: This one goes to the hometown favorite--hands down. For as authentic an Irish meal as you can get in the middle of the Sonoran desert, Seamus McCaffrey's comes out miles ahead...not that the Titled Kilt "cast members" seemed to be going for the authentic feel anyway.

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