The Skinny: Child's play at Darcy McGee's

By Wynter Holden

In my notebook of odd dieting theories, I have one that's completely ridiculous. Not that the idea is bad, mind you. Just that executing this particular plan requires that I look like a complete fool in front of dozens of strangers. I knew I was going to test it sometime.

I didn't know that it was going to happen at my friend Mr. B's 29th birthday party, in front of his entire family. But I just couldn't help it. If there's one place in town that that requires some serious dieting creativity, it's the new Darcy McGee's Irish pub in the Tempe Marketplace. I mean, just one Guinness has about 200 calories. Add shepherd's pie and bread pudding to that and your diet goes up in flames...with whiskey sauce as the accelerant.

To their credit, Darcy's does have a handful of decent looking salads, even if they are loaded with fat-heavy bacon and cheese. But let's be real. If you go to an Irish pub, you're going to want real British Isles grub. Beer-braised beef boxty. Bangers and mash. So I looked over the menu and ordered exactly what I wanted: Chicken pie.

The menu described it as "diced chicken breast, broccoli and aged cheddar simmered in a bechamel sauce and topped with a savoury buttermilk biscuit." Oh, my! My stomach was already rumbling in approval when the pot pie bowl was placed in front of me.

That's when I pulled out my secret dieting weapon...

A kiddie lunch tray I purchased at Target for $3.99! As if the tiny plastic plate wasn't humiliating enough, try adding some lime green and blue cartoon sea creatures to the equation. I'm surprised that the 3-year-old two tables down didn't insist on getting one too. "Mommy, me wanna fishie plate. Waah!"

I ignored the icy stares (mostly coming from my own table) and scooped small portions of the pie and my two sides onto the fishie dish. Silly look aside, the plate's actually very well-designed. There are four compartments of varying sizes: the largest for salads, the next step down for veggies, a smaller one for meat and a tiny dessert slot. Portioning everything out allowed me to have exactly what I wanted and not feel deprived, without going overboard and totally blowing my diet. I think that's definitely worth a tiny bit of humiliation.

Next time I'm trying this theory with the seafood pie my sister ordered. Damn, that looked good.

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden