Battle of the Shepherd's Pie

Shakespeare's vs. The Turf Restaurant & Pub

When we're feeling a little low, the first stop is usually Tempe's Rula Bula for a pint and a plate of shepherd's pie. With ground beef, veggies, whipped potatoes and cheese, this dish is a comfort classic and one of the first things that comes to mind when you think British Isles fare. This week, we sampled the pies at two newer restaurants -- one Irish, one British -- to see how their versions stack up.

In One Corner: Shakespeare's
1744 S. Val Vista Dr., Mesa
480-507-7827

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​Our expectations were pretty low as we stopped by Shakespeare's British Pub on a slow night -- not because we'd heard negative buzz about the place, but because it looks exactly like its predecessor, the now defunct Molly Brannigan's. The food at Molly's was always hit and miss. Mostly miss...

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​The bar's new owners are the same English folks who run Churchill's Pub and Grill in Chandler. They elected to keep the Molly's decor intact, which works. There's a lovely corner patio outside that's open to the bar on warm nights. The tables are dark, sturdy wood with matching chairs and regal upholstered benches. Walls are faux brick, and the lighting is appropriately dim.

The shepherd's pie (here called Cottage Pie, the original name for the dish dating back to the 1700s) arrived in a deep bowl,

blanketed with smooth melted cheddar.

 

The potatoes were light and fluffy. As the spoon cracked through the cheese and potatoes to reveal the meat underneath, a rich, mouthwatering scent wafted up.

 

"Mmm...the gravy is delicious," mumbled one friend with a mouthful of meat. "Better than my mom's!"

The bowl was packed 2/3 full of ground sirloin in a thick, savory beef gravy. The meat was plentiful, although it sometimes stuck together in clumps that the gravy wasn't able to penetrate. Lightly cooked carrots and onions added a little crunch and texture to the dish. We savored every last bite and scraped the bowl clean. Definitely a good showing for Shakespeare's. 

 

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