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Pasty and present

A traditional Cornish dish with a California twist hits downtown SLO.

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For two science brains, Gwynne Stump and her husband Kurt have a major flare for interior decorating.

“Kurt designed all of that and built it from the ground up,” Stump said, pointing to the impressive mantel behind the bar. Every inch of the restaurant reflects the couples’ broad spectrum of talents. A trip to the wine rack opens up a discussion about the Stumps’ passion for wine-making. It would all be rather impressive for a couple born and raised in the industry, but both Stumps started out on vastly different career paths. 

Both hold advanced degrees; Gwynne has her PhD in Biology and Kurt has a PhD in Medical Physics. Kurt works full-time in a radiation oncology department and works the restaurant nights and weekends.

So how did two scientists come to own a pasty restaurant? A simple taste bud experiment.

“We had our first pasty in Arizona and we just fell in love with it,” explained Stump. “The food has such a rich and deep history.” 

The pasty originated in Cornwall, England. Its origin date is something of a mystery, but the first recipe appears in the mid 1700s. It became the go-to food for English miners in the 19th century. The pasty’s braided edge allowed it to be consumed while miners worked, without exposing them to the hazardous materials present on their hands from the mines. After the majority of the pasty had been devoured, the braid would be thrown into the mine to appease bad spirits.

The Stumps had their first bite of pasty in 2008, and the rest was history.

“We knew we wanted to start our own restaurant and there was nothing like this anywhere on the Central Coast,” explained Stump.

The traditional pasty or “Oggy” consists of steak, red potatoes, rutabaga, and onions.  SloCo Pasty Co. features a list of more traditional pasties, but being scientists, the Stumps didn’t just settle for traditional.

“We have the ‘Tri Trippn’’ which is very Californian,” Stump said with a laugh.

“Aporkrodite” and “Chicken & Brie” are also among the not-so-traditional menu items.

Even with SloCo Pasty Co.’s modern spin, the Stumps are passionate about bringing some of the finer points of English and Irish culture to the central coast. Both a traditional Irish band and an American folk group play at SloCo Pasty Co. every Tuesday and Wednesday.

But what would be a traditional miner’s joint without beers?

“We have some pretty unusual beers,” said Stump.

A peek at the menu confirms her assertions. It’s not often that Smithwicks, Boddingtons, and Magners appear in the same US zip code, let alone the same restaurant.

Magners is an especially rare addition. It’s an Irish hard cider with a mellow flavor that’s produced with 17 varieties of apples. Its even temperament makes it the perfect addition to an afternoon “Chicken Pot Pie” pasty.

SloCo Pasty Co. is a place where science meets tradition and past meets present. The restaurant too, has its own colorful history.

Stump explains that if legend is true, the building used to be a speakeasy with a trapdoor that led prohibitionists across the street to the other side of Chorro Street.

Now, servers take all kitchen and bar orders on an iPad and customers can enjoy the game in high definition from the bar’s large flat screen TV.

“After the retrofitting, I went up into the rafters to clean things up. It’s amazing what almost 200 years of neglect will leave behind,” said Stump, “But we kept the original lower rafters. We’ve really tried to keep as much of the history of this place alive as possible.”

SloCo Pasty Co. is located at 1032 Chorro St. in SLO. For hours of operation, happy hour and lunch specials, visit them at slocopastyco.com or at their Facebook page.

 

Fast fact

Central Coast Children’s Resource Network of the Central Coast is appealing to all local families, schools, and service groups for immediate donations of kids clothes sizes 3-10. Donation bins are located in the following locations: Charter Communications on Bridge St., and Albertson’s grocery in Arroyo Grande. For more information email Lisa Ray at lisa@childrensresourcenetwork.com.

Intern Maeva Considine compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business news to StrokesandPlugs@newtimesslo.com.

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