Cowbell - Not Quite Ready for Prime Time
My wife and I decided to try Cowbell last night. While the place showed hints of promise, it was disappointing. It was packed and the two waiters and a counter-person had trouble keeping up. We started at the Bar with a bottle of Rosso di Montalcino from Fanti (expensive at $55) from a fairly limited wine list. We moved to a table and ordered an appetizer and our mains. 45 minutes later, the mains showed up, but no appetizer. After convincing the waiters that we had ordered an appetizer, the waiter who had taken our order re-appeared and told us that the appetizer appeared on his order slip, but not on the one in the kitchen. He apologized and asked if we still wanted it; we declined.
By 7:30 they were out of the chicken ballontine, which I had wanted so I had the beef pot pie. It had good flavour and pastry, but was under-salted. My wife had the veal blade steak, farm raised in Paisley, Ontario. It was very tender and had good flavour. To make up for the appetizer snafu, the waiter offered us free champagne, but we had finished the bottle of wine and didn't want any more alcohol. We split a complimentary dessert - Clafouti that was simply awful -a few sweet and sour cherries on a spongy cake that tasted more like an omelet,
The restaurant had some nice touches (the floor and the bathroom), ok seating and an ugly ceiling. The dinner took two hours from the time that we arrived (some of that was waiting for out table). The menu has only a few choices and by the time we left, they were substituting for most menu items.
We live relatively close, so I might go back in a few months, just to see if they have gotten it together, but then again, I might not - too many other good places.
While your experience does sound rather frustrating, I would have to say that it sounds like they are suffering from the opening blues. How long have they been open? Not that I've tried his food but he does seem to be a guy who wants to serve good, honest cooking. I don't live in the area but if I did I would surely give them another chance to redeem themselves, but wait a few months.
My boss ate there about a week ago, he thought it was alright, no problems like you described...but I was surprised to hear the menu was pretty standard, properly done food of course but pork wasn't berkshire, no really interesting cuts of beef and I not exactly head-to-tail type items, which is what I have heard it was to be featuring...anyway, he enjoyed it as did his party, just nothing really to bring them back...Bear in mind this is a second hand account and I plan to visit myself, though it sounds like waiting a month or so might be wise...
I ate there last night and had a totally different experience. It was a birthday treat and I took myself and three kids out. The menu is somewhat limited as they use fresh ingredients. It changes daily and is posted on a blackboard. I should mention that when we requested tap water there was no snooty attitude and in fact they brought a bottle of it in an old glass milk bottle. The server even refilled our glasses as if it were wine. Bravo! I started with bresaola and polenta fries which was very tasty. The two boys ordered the steak frites which they both enjoyed. However, they could have been cooked a little bit more. They were underdone from what was requested. They were very accomodating of my vegetarian daughter. When she mentioned she did not like mushrooms they prepared her vegetarian pasta without it. I had the rainbow trout a lovely filet with crispy skin and crunchy fava beans. Desserts are also limited. The two boys had the apple pie, chunks of apple between flaky pastry. Daughter had the chocolate pot au feu, creamy and decadent. I had two light crepes wrapped around chunks of plum and rhubarb. Fabulous. The cappuccinos were also great. We could start an entire thread on proper cappuccinos. Because of the chains people think they should have a glob of froth on top. Cowbell's was perfect, with the milk mixed in, making it rich and creamy (although I would have preferred mine hotter). Service was professional and attentive without being obtrusive. Our bill for four (but with only one app and one glass of wine) with tax and tip was $193. Great value and outstanding food. Welcome to the neighbourhood, Cowbell. If anyone is in the area, I'd suggest you give them a try.
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