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Jul 29, 2008 09:55 AM

My take on Cowboy Star

So I had been craving a good steak for a week or so, the problem though was having recently dined at Wolfgang Puck's Cut I was fearful that any steak from near by choices ( Ruth's Chris, Donovan's, etc) would have too hard of a time living up to the 35 day dry aged Nebraskan rib eye from Cut.

I heard a few good things about Cowboy Star downtown and the fact that they had some game on the menu (Bison, Wild Boar, Elk, and more) caught my interest.

First, I loved the look of the restaurant. I would call it modern rustic. Lots of wood and stainless steel with a splash of whimsy. They have an open kitchen with a chefs counter providing seating for 5 or 6 looking into the kitchen.

We arrived for an early reservation Sunday night and were the only table except for a 6 top that was seated right before us. I was concerned that because we were sharing our server with a larger group we might get the short end of the stick service wise but my fears were unfounded and we were well taken care of.

To start I had the Pepper Seared Wild Boar Carpaccio and my Girl friend had the Dungeness Crab Cake. The carpaccio was great 7/10 my only complaint would be the honey and jalapeno drizzle overpowered the boar meat too much for me. The Crab Cake was excellent 8/10 - bits of bacon and large amounts of crab.

Our main courses were the Bison Rib eye and the 21 day aged Nebraskan Rib eye. I had the Bison which was cooked perfectly rare. I've only had Bison a couple of times but this was by far the best. The real star of the night though was my Girl Friend's Rib eye it was by her accounts, and the pieces I stole, the best steak she has ever had and I would say on par with the best I have had as well. It was seasoned and cooked perfectly and the quality of the meat was outstanding. Bison 10/10 Rib eye 10/10

I would of liked a bigger wine list. There were some good choices but lacking in the Italian Red department (You could always BYOB but not sure on corkage policy)

Overall I really enjoyed Cowboy Star and will be back to try a few more items from the menu, it's going to be hard not to order that Rib eye.

Looking at this review I am tempted to lower my scores a little bit because it seems high but that is how I felt so I'm going to keep it as written.

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  1. I love this place. Fantastic quality.

    The happy hour bar menu is perhaps one of the best steals in San Diego right now. Tuesday-Friday 4-6pm. 20% off of the bar menu and the house signature cocktails are $5 a piece.

    We got the steak with pommes frites and the mussels with pommes frite off the bar menu. With the discount the dishes were only $12 or so a piece. The 6 oz steak was unbelieveably tender and flavorful, and the bordelaise sauce it was in was heavenly. A really fantastic dish to be serving at the bar, and the quality of the steak alone was worth twice what you're paying for the whole dish. The mussels were just as good, and the bed of fries on each plate went together so nicely with the dishes. Fresh and extremely well-crafted dishes. Excellent.

    As for the cocktails, they were great as well. The Cruzan Mojito, Wrangler Julep, and Huckleberry Frozen Margarita were all right on the money, but perhaps my favorite was the Wagon Wheel Gimlet.

    Oh yeah, and regulars of Kensington Grill may recognize the bartender Garth, who is now at Cowboy Star. So, it goes without saying that the bar service is efficient and friendly as well.

    Can't speak for the full dining experience yet, but the bar experience was a hell of a good way to start.

    1. Wow, my wife and I ate at the Chef's Table at Cowboy Star and had a great time. We also ordered the Bison Ribeye and the Dry Aged NY Strip. I absolutely loved the Ribeye, tons of flavor and cooked perfectly. I liked the cocktail list, but the wine list is in need of an upgrade (probably because they are newly opened). The chef that served us, Wade, was very pleasant and knew the menu quite well. We will be back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dr. Key

        We ate here during Restaurant Week, but ordered mostly form the regular menu - loved it. Very professional service, wonderful sweetbreads, perfectly cooked steak, even though they were very new at that point. We've recommended it a lot and we'll go back. Great interior design, too.


        Some love from San Diego Magazine.

        If you only go at dinner, you will miss out on the truly excellent bison burger done with an Anaheim chile. If you never sit at the bar, you will miss out on two friendly and knowledgeable bar tenders, Garth and Bruce.

        If you are so inclined, you can also get some excellent foie gras.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ibstatguy

          Good tip.

          The bartenders there were cooler and more knowledgeable than 99% of bartenders in San Diego.

          I am thinking they had to come from another city.

          1. re: stevewag23

            Garth is from San Diego and Bruce is from elsewhere, AZ I want to say.

          2. re: ibstatguy

            I have been to both and the Happy Hour is definitely worth checking out, great stuff on the menu.

            I missed this thread when it came out but the beef Rib Eye was also the resounding favorite the last time we ate dinner there.

            1. re: MrKrispy

              a couple of months back I purchased both the beef and bison rib eyes for home grilling in a bit of a taste test. both were truly terrific.

          3. had the steak tartare this evening for the first time; don't miss out. also had Chef Victor's seasonal update of foie gras with grilled peaches and it was a fabulous pairing. order a btl of Von Strasser cab with your steak and have them decant it, very nice.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ibstatguy

              Really glad everyone likes the place. I really loved the food but I found the atmosphere to be strange and not quite as laid back as the kind of places I like to go. It was also very chilly in there.

              I wish I liked it, since everything was very tasty!

              1. re: jennywenny

                I usually sit at the bar and have found that to be, IMHO, quite laid back. Garth and Bruce are both great bar tenders and very friendly. Chef Victor has come out to chat and share a glass of wine as well.

              2. I visited Cowboy Star last night at the suggestion of this board and it makes me think the statement "eat their specialty" is important. I also chose this place as my father is not a foodie, but loves steak. He complemented the food by saying "I didn't need to add salt to my steak", which means the meal was great for him.

                I started with the Autumn Squash soup, which was served tepid and sweet. It was decent, but not quite what I like in a fall soup (I prefer more garlic/onion flavor than sweet).

                The men at our table had the Ribeye, which was cooked perfectly and tasted fabulous. The potato and caramelized onion mash was delicious, and the haricot vert must have been good, because I didn't have a chance to sample them.

                I, however, had the Rabbit Duo. The loin didn't have any flavor, but the sausage was quite nice. The kale was sour, and lukewarm and the gnocchi were *meh in texture but had decent flavor.

                I should have ordered the steak despite not being interested in red meat for the evening. The wine options were good, if a bit pricey by the glass (*read, D.C. prices in San Diego).

                For dessert, had the cheesecake with berries, which by far topped the entire meal. It was delicious.

                Overall, dinner was decent, the atmosphere was cozy and exactly what I had hoped it would be, but I will have to try the other suggestion on my next visit: The Wine Sellar and Brasserie.

                Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop
                640 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101