Cowshed has been around in Bristol since 2009, situating itself the formerly vacated Whiteladies Road Picture House (now the reformed Everyman Cinema), it now offers a pre-theatre menu. As much as I love cinema, I miss the post, yet pre-cinema days. With wonderful meat themed film posters adorning the old slots on the front of the Picture House, I wish the restaurant had kept them on display, especially ‘Jurassic Pork’. Still, Cowshed has gained a dedicated following amongst lovers of steak.
In the evening, the prices are a tad prohibitive. Steak and chips, excluding sauces and sides will set diners back £25.95 for a 300g rib-eye. The provenance of their steak is unquestionably excellent however, sourced from the butchers, Ruby and White, next door also owned by the restaurant with an excellent ‘Follow the Farm’ philosophy. Regardless, I’m an approver of large portions so I have to spend a great deal to achieve that in the evenings here.
Today however readers, we are not concerned with the evening menu, but the set lunch menu. Something that borders on the fantastical, the wonderful. £8.95 for a single course, £10.95 for two and a mere £12.95 for three courses of the food I am about to describe, is close to a steal. The lunch menu has a few staples but otherwise varies across the seasons. For main course, I chose the Cowshed Burger followed with a dessert, a vanilla panna cotta with hazelnut biscotti and coffee syrup.
The burger was cooked medium rare, a delightful pink greeted me as I took my first mouth-watering bite. Its succulence was further amplified by the juices which spilled across the board, unable to be contained by the brioche bun holding the patty. Accompanying the patty were pickles, sweet gem lettuce and a thick slice of beef tomato, topped with a layer of melted cheddar and supported by a homemade relish. The size of the bun was impressive too, though it made it difficult to achieve an appreciation of each flavour in a single bite. The patty was well seasoned and further aided in its delivery by the melted cheddar. The sweetness of the relish prevented the level of salt from being overbearing and though there were flavours of tomato and sugar, with a hint of green pepper, it lacked its own character, it simply wasn’t unique. In relative terms however, this is easily in the vanguard of burgers. Burgers as they should be: simple, delicious and a compelling eat- like a book you can’t put down (who rests when eating a burger?) Gone without ever touching the board again. Alongside the burger was a portion of skinny fries, crunchy and salty as they should be, delicious. But simply fries.
The near colossal burger was followed by the aforementioned vanilla panna cotta. A delight to see fragments of vanilla pod throughout, it proved delectable with a decent wobble when the dish was shaken. It was however, a mere morsel of a dish, especially when compared to the burger before. The coffee syrup was too much in quantity and sweetness. A vehicle to deliver the syrup would’ve been preferred and I think a cold espresso would improve the dish to allow the vanilla to develop. The hazelnut biscotti, whilst a great shape and thickness, proved neither biscuit-y or hazelnutty. Too soft to be biscotti, too hard to mop up the syrup. I was strongly reminded of my attempts at baking in earlier years.
Value for money, which this menu represents, cannot be overstated. I was certainly well fed, and for a price that you would struggle to find contenders for in Bristol. A visit is well recommended if you’re in the area.
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