My favorite quote by Dave Barry is “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic”. I see that kind of bravato every day in the restaruant buisness. People with no more than a passion, open a business and thrive. They never question or look back, they just succeed. A current example is SloCo Pasty (pronounced Pass Ty) Company, who offers authentic Cornish Pasties with a California twist. Owners Gwynne and Kurt first tried Pasties and decided if there is such a thing as a perfect food, it was this pie. The rest was fate and boy, are we glad.
We sat at the bar and took in all the miner memorabilia and vintage cookbooks. The bartender was full of information, being a history major and we fell instantly in love with this new restaurant. She told us of the story of Cornish Pasties that dates back several hundred years to Cornwall, England. The Pasty provided a convenient way for the miners to get a full meal while working in the mines. The distinctive crimp braid on the edge of the Pasty helped to keep the food from being touched or tainted with arsenic from the tin mine.
Gary was thrilled to see that they had Smithwick’s Irish Ale on tap and even more delighted to see they had a “misting” system that wetted the inside of the glass before they poured the beer to maximize flavor. This beer is so old; it dates back to the fourteenth century and is hard to find stateside.
Gary started with a banana, peanut butter, and jelly Pasty and was delighted. As the friendly Gwynne told us, “Traditionally pasties were made with the main meal on one end and dessert (or‘afters’ as they call them) on the other. The dessert end was marked with the miner’s initials so they knew what side to eat first.” Gary would have flunked this skill.
I was most excited about the special, Poutine. This gastronomic staple of Canada has been in my dreams since I left Quebec 20 years ago. It is a magnificent dish made of baked french fries (that are are of medium thickness, and baked so that the inside stays soft, while the outside is crunchy), gorgonzola cheese, and brown gravy that is mildly spiced with a hint of pepper and a sauce brune that is a combination of beef and chicken stock. I was in heaven and vowed to visit every day.
Irish Stew is another one of my favorites when done authentically and these guys got it dead-on. Using Grandma’s recipe of steak, onions, carrots and celery in a beer broth with hand-made mashed potatoes piled on top. It is as hearty and filling as it is delicious and served with a side of fresh soda bread. The Nutty and Sweet salad was a fresh surprise with mixed greens, candied walnuts, cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese, and red onions tossed with a house made balsamic vinaigrette.
The Shepherd’s Pie is a classic and I adore this pie. Ground beef, carrots, onions, and celery cooked in a red wine gravy. Throw in some mashed potatoes and you got a little bit of Pasty heaven on a plate. Dipped in the red wine gravy this appealed to my comfort-food senses like no other.
I adored my mom’s Chicken potpie when I was a kid. The one here made me feel like I was back home in Steamboat having just been called in for supper with a cowbell. Tender chicken breast, peas, carrots, onions, celery, potato, and their secret seasoning with extra gravy on the side. The Tri Tip Pasty intrigued us with the blending of old traditions and new. Filled with the best Santa Maria Tri Tip from Jim’s Barbeque, which is cooked over red oak, stuffed with baked beans and salsa, this was a surprising indulgence.
Gwynne and Kurt longed to find the perfect Pasty and when they couldn’t they opened up the restaurant. They offer the Pasty’s to go, par baked or hot (they just catered two dinners for me). Better yet, come, enjoy their quaint patio, and have a delicious Irish beer. SloCo Pasty Company is open Sunday thru Thursday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday thru Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. They are located at 1032 Chorro Street in San Luis Obispo or call them at 805-540-7278.