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Review: Cornish Pasty Co. (Tempe, AZ)

jasonaz May 8, 2007 06:30 PM

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

The single greatest thing the English ever contributed to humankind can be found just a couple blocks from ASU in Tempe: pasties! Pasties (pahs-tees) are pastries that were originally made for miners in Cornwall, England in the 1700’s so they could take food underground for long periods of time without it spoiling. They were originally filled with a simple mixture of minced meat, potato, and onion. Nearly three hundred years later, at the Cornish Pasty Co., you can get them filled with anything from Greek chicken to veggie tikka masala.

Arman and I headed down there for lunch last week. I’d had their typical Irish and English versions (bangers and mash and the shepherd’s pie) before, and this time I wanted to try something more unusual. I ordered the Carne Adovada Pasty ($7), which is simmered pork in New Mexican red chili stew with Mexican rice, hatch chiles, and cheddar, all wrapped in a pastry. How can that not be delicious?! As good as it sounded on the menu, it actually surpassed my expectations. The large chunks of pork were so tender, you could easily cut them with a fork. The mixture of the chili, rice, and cheese was just right. As always, the pastry crust was excellent. Don’t let the chiles scare you away from this meal, it was only mildly spicy.

The service was exceptionally slow this day, and they were nice enough to give us a complementary dessert, the Strawberry Pavlova (normally $5). It has a hard meringue shell on the bottom, with whipped cream and fresh strawberries on top. It was supposed to be finished with a raspberry sauce, but apparently they had run out. It was kind of hard to eat. The meringue was really hard, yet super light, so when I cut off the first bite, I had to really press down hard with my fork and it ended up flying off the plate, into my chest, and then onto the floor. The dramatic sequence was entertaining to the foursome sitting next to us. I was a little more careful with the next attempt, and I eventually got the technique down. I’d never had a hard meringue like that, so it was very different for me, and I rather liked it. It didn’t have a lot of flavor, but it had an interesting texture, and went well with the strawberries and cream.

Cornish Pasty Co. has a very interesting menu, with plenty of different, enticing pasties to keep you coming back. I’ve only had three so far, and there are many more that I’d love to go back and try. Have a look at their online menu, and see if it doesn’t have a pasty with your name written all over it.

Note: They have a nice selection of Euro draft beer ($4-$7) as well as 18 kinds of bottled beer ($2-$7).

960 West University
(NE corner of University & Hardy, facing Hardy)
phone: (480) 894-6261
hours: M-Thu 11-10, F-Sat 11-12 (midnight), Sun 12-8

Mouthwatering photos and more reviews can be found at: www.chowdownphoenix.com

  1. Firenza00 May 8, 2007 06:52 PM

    We've been to it once and I really enjoyed it. I think I had the tiki masala one. Service was slow for us as well, which was odd, since we were one of three tables with people. If you drive by, it's really dark inside so it might look closed from the outside. Not sure if they've changed, but the majority of tables are narrow two-tops with a couple four-tops in back, in addition to the seating at the bar that runs the length of the room.

    1. tastyjon May 8, 2007 08:02 PM

      I'm a big fan as well.

      As mentioned by Firenza00, one need to be cognizant of seating. I went with four people recently and we had to be separated to eat! I'm not complaining - that's just the way the space is - very narrow with mostly 2-tops and a long diner-like bar.

      Interestingly the one item of which I'm not a fan is the Oggie - their purest, most original offering of the pasty. My British parents also came to the same conclusion when we went. I think it's mostly a function of technique. They use somewhat large, somewhat tough cubes of meat where I think ground or shredded would work better in melding the flavors and keeping true to the portability of the concept. We're used to taking pasties on a picnic or to the beach - best eaten with one hand. CP's Oggies are best eaten with a knife and fork. But hey, that's my only quibble and personal taste/family thing at that.
      And it's just one of many, many offered.

      Otherwise - please support this place. It takes big cajones to build an eatery in AZ around a single dish that few are familiar with. Even more to to spice it up with so many international variations.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tastyjon
        misohungrychewlow May 8, 2007 08:58 PM

        I actually liked the Oggie, for what it is, on my first visit. I do look forward to working my way through the menu in the future.

      2. silverbear May 8, 2007 09:10 PM

        I love this place. My favorite: The eggplant parmesan pasty. I'm also fond of the beer selection but seldom get to enjoy it since I'm usually there for a weekday lunch.

        I agree with the other observations about seating. The shoebox space is best suited to parties of two or one. Larger parties might have to separate or wait during peak times.

        1. z
          ziggylu May 9, 2007 08:07 AM

          We like this place a lot as well. This is one place we always sit at the bar. Enjoy chatting with the employees and watching them whip up whatever pasties they're working on that day.

          We've brought them home and put them in the freezer to cook later and they're equally delicious at home as well!

          1 Reply
          1. re: ziggylu
            jasonaz May 9, 2007 01:44 PM

            Hi Ziggylu,

            That's a wonderful idea about bringing them home. I believe I read a review on azcentral or newtimes that mentioned CPC will par cook them for you so you can just pop them in the oven for a bit to finish them off when you're ready. That would make for a quick and delicious dinner at home, or even for a party.

          2. Billy Bob May 9, 2007 09:13 AM

            My wife and I love the Cornish Pasty Co. I understand the service concerns. One way we battle that is to try and sit at the counter instead of at a table and just be prepared for a leisurely meal. Sitting at the counter you can watch the cooks at work preparing the yummy Pasties and if you happen to be dry on your beverage, a lot of the times the cook will help you out if the server can't get to you.

            Billy Bob

            1. johnseberg May 9, 2007 06:49 PM

              Okay, here's the latest scoop. I had lunch here, yesterday, and I had a chance to ask Dean where his next (second) location will be. He said they were just in the process of closing a deal on some space at Dobson and Guadalupe.

              http://cornishpastyco.com

              7 Replies
              1. re: johnseberg
                z
                ziggylu May 9, 2007 09:59 PM

                Really? This is great news! Having one "in the neighborhood" would be wonderful...I feel guilty when I go for lunch as it usually fills me up to not want dinner and then poor husband is jealous....he'll love hearing we'll soon have one just a couple miles from home!

                1. re: johnseberg
                  IamJacksBrain May 9, 2007 11:22 PM

                  That is good scoop.

                  1. re: IamJacksBrain
                    jasonaz May 10, 2007 06:55 AM

                    I think it's great news too, but aren't you a little surprised that they didn't decide to open a new location a little farther away from the current one so they could expose themselves to a wholly new market?

                    1. re: jasonaz
                      silverbear May 10, 2007 08:12 AM

                      I am surprised by the site chosen for the second location. Personally, I would have liked to see a Central Phoenix location, but a business case might also be made for the SE Valley and Scottsdale. Dobson and Guadalupe is at the west end of Mesa, not too far from the existing Tempe location.

                      1. re: silverbear
                        Firenza00 May 10, 2007 08:35 AM

                        Maybe they have a better seating arrangement in the new location or one that's more visible from the street.

                        1. re: silverbear
                          m
                          mitchgx May 10, 2007 09:29 AM

                          Well, it's about 10 miles or so...and a completely different market/demographic I would think. Oddly enough, there's a Rosita's at University/Hardy and one at Dobson/Guadalupe.

                        2. re: jasonaz
                          tastyjon May 21, 2007 10:52 PM

                          It might simply be a management issue. If the owner wants to be close to both kitchens, both kitchens need to be close. I can respect that. It's amazingly tough to find good staff who will crank out a consistent product and owners need to be really on top of things.

                          Franchising quality/vision is probably the toughest thing in the biz.

                    2. don giovanni May 10, 2007 02:58 PM

                      I love this place, but I'd kind of forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder.

                      1. c
                        Curiosity Killed the Cat May 21, 2007 08:20 PM

                        I went for the first time last week and I loved it!!

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