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Searching for stew in the South Puget Sound

Doyle's Public House has cornered the stew market

Doyle's Guinness stew and accompanying soda bread satisfies. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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Autumn. I love the onset of the season. I do all the usual autumn stuff: dodge geysers in the middle of Schuster Parkway; chase a flying Buick in Puyallup; drive all over town looking for a movie house not completely packed with government employees. But most of all, I look forward each year during this season to huddle up to a bowl of something warm.

Strictly speaking, stew.

(Yes, stew. I'm sure you can read up on football somewhere else.)

When fall comes, I'm less inclined toward grilled fish and chicken and the fruits and salads of warmer weather, and more prone to eats hearty soups, stews and roasts.

For some reason I think of fall cooking as more grown-up - less stilted than the leaner, fussy and skittish cooking of spring and summer. But then that's probably just the thinly-veiled reasoning of a glutton. At any rate, the first thing I do when I can't reach my front door due to a moat is search for a big old pot of beef stew. It's usually my first push toward winterizing both my palate and spirit. It works.

So in preparing to write this piece, I thought I'd call the local restaurants in search of stew - but couldn't find any. Seriously, I made 60 calls and website searches and found two. OK, only one.

There's plenty of chile verde (green chile and pork stew), pozole, fish stews and Bruno's European Restaurant has an amazing goulash soup, but finding a bowl of good old run-of-the-mill beef stew in the South Sound is harder than beating the Houston Texans in regulation time.

For some reason, chicken and waffles, house-cured meats, mac 'n' cheese, heirloom chicken, pork tenderloin, turnips and meatloaf are "in." Beef stew is out. Apparently it's not glamorous enough to grace even the retro-American table.

The one stew gracing a South Sound menu? Doyle's Public House's Guinness stew.

You've been there. It's the Irish pub nestled in Tacoma's Stadium District that houses people yelling at European football games, people yelling at Sounders games and people yelling at themselves for not drinking the last gulp of a Jameson bottle and scoring a chance for a trip to Ireland. (Doyle's is the number one Jameson bar in the Pacific Northwest.)

Doyle's serves a hearty Guinness beef stew - the kind that warms the coldest bones on a wet, cold, shutdown autumn day. It's a simple, yet satisfying beef stew: Boneless beef cut into 1-inch square cubes, mixed with flour, garlic, pepper and then salt to coat; in the oven until the beef is browned; add Guinness and tomato paste and cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are done.

Simple, huh?

But, there's a big difference between "simple" and simple. "Simple" food is trendy but soulless, foolishly supposing that an offhand slice of meatloaf could match the meatloaf your grandmother made. Simple food recognizes that Grandma knew best - that true comfort food comforts because a rigorous but nurturing honesty lies at its core. And honestly, paired with a Guinness or a Jameson Reserve neat, Doyle's Guinness stew is simply delicious.

DOYLE'S PUBLIC HOUSE, 11-2 a.m. Monday-Friday, 9-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, 208 St Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.7468

>>> QUESTION: Did I miss a restaurant with stew on its regular menu?

LINK: South South Restaurant Guide

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