Monday, October 24, 2011
Burger - This is your typical backyard grill burger all grown up. The thick patty made from all natural beef is one of the most flavorful burgers in the city, and the grill knows what a proper medium-rare burger should look like. The bun is sublime - a soft, toasted potato roll with lots of give. Dressings are served on the side - roma tomatoes (others not in season), thinly sliced red onion, and leafs of iceberg. No pickle though.
Fries/Rings/Sides - Fries are thicker cut and more rustic; not exactly crunchy but crispy enough and delicious. I don't recall if onion rings are on the menu. The macaroni/cavatappi and cheese is a rich and creamy appetizer or burger supplement, though on my most recent visit the $6 portion appeared to have reduced in size by 50%.
Sauce - Agogo sauce is a house made mayo kicked up with sriracha, roasted garlic, honey, and "other stuff." The sweet, garlicky, kind of spicy sauce is unbelievably delicious. I like it slathered on the burger, as a dip for the fries, and as a moisturizer for my skin. Housemade ketchup has a prominent cinnamon flavor, which isn't really my thing.
Service/Ambience - The renovation of this former gas station at the end of Oak Street is a fun, eclecticly adorned, communal space to dine in. Since the weather has turned cool, the seating capacity doubles with tables out front in the parking lot and underneath the overhang. Inside there are a few deuces, several 6 tops which are often shared by multiple parties, and the bar (my favorite place to dine). The staff wears floral patterned aprons which appear to have been pulled straight from Grandma's linen drawer. Motown's greatest hits plays from the speakers, in what can be a very loud dining room.
Lagniappe - Cowbell is not a one hit burger wonder. Clam chowder, doctored up grilled cheese sandwiches, skirt steak, and a general latin flair covers the rest of the menu. The bar pours a short but interesting array of beers, housemade punches, and wines. Corkage is listed at $10,000,000,000 - give or take a few zeroes.
Price - A burger will run you $10.95 plus an extra $1 for cheese, but that price includes a boatload (or more accurately, a red and white checker basket) full of french fries.
Overall Assessment - Unlike most of the other burger specialists recently opened around town, Cowbell is a full service restaurant which just happens to serve one hell of a burger. At $11 for a burger and fries, the cost of food alone is equivalent to that at gourmet burger spots which offer fast-casual service. Sometimes we pay a few dollars more to be waited on, and that is a premium which I will gladly pay for at Cowbell - especially if I can manage to smuggle out a bottle of agogo sauce in The Folk Singer's purse.
Cowbell - Birdie
8801 Oak Street
Tues-Sat 11:30am-3pm; 5pm-10pm (till 11pm on Fri-Sat). Closed Sun-Mon.