Craving Cowbell…

Call it an urge, itch, ache or yen, but I had a serious craving for Cowbell. As any woman can tell you, it’s best not to ignore these inner lusts too often or chaos will likely ensue and cause unnecessary events like incurable bouts of crying, flying breakables or the ever-dreaded hissy fit. Wisely, John offered to accompany me on the long, four-block walk to fill this desperate need last Saturday around noon.

The restaurant was hopping when we arrived, happy folks filled the benches outside on the patio, but we only had to wait about five minutes before there was an available table indoors. I already knew what I wanted to order (I avidly follow their “specials” tweeted daily from @CowbellNOLA), so it was just a matter of choosing an appetizer and sipping on sodas while we waited for our food to arrive.  
The dish we selected sounded like such a bizarre mix of flavors, we couldn’t possibly pass it up. Dubbed “Figgy Toast,” it consisted of a small bowl of braised andouille and sweet & sour figs with large, blue cheese croutons. It was such a strange amalgam of flavors and textures that turned out to be utterly delicious and incredibly fun to eat. The rich, reddish brown color of the sweet & sour sauce was so dark, that it was difficult to tell the figs from the sliced andouille until you popped it into your mouth.

As we gobbled the last sweet morsels, our entrees arrived. John went with the Cowbell natural beef burger with an added over-easy farm egg and thick sliced bacon on a toasted potato roll bun. He slathered on the irresistible, mayo based “Agogo” sauce as well as some of their house-made ketchup that features a distinctly cinnamon bite. Not surprisingly the burger was just as fantastic, juicy and flavorful, as it has been every time we’ve visited. 

I veered from the norm, however, when I opted for one of the day’s specials, a most excellent grilled cheese sandwich and a small cup of the soup of the day. Now, this is not your mom’s grilled cheese with the ubiquitous, orange slices of American on soft, white bread, oh no. This sandwich featured manchego cheese with thin slices of roasted organic squash (perhaps drizzled with lemon?) pressed between two, thick slices of perfectly buttery and crispy ciabatta. I had died and gone to grilled cheese heaven. Oh and let’s not forget the soup, a delightful curry plantain with mango jerk chicken. Yep, I was in soup heaven, too. After all, they’re right next door to each other.
With my craving totally satiated, it was just an added bonus when we polished off a slice of their “Chocolate City” or flourless chocolate cake with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, all made in house, naturally. We rolled out of the door, hefty and happy, John smiling and sighing in the knowledge that he narrowly avoided another craving catastrophe. Now, he just has to keep a sharp eye out for this week…

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I need more Cowbell!

No, I’m not talking about Blue Oyster Cult, Christopher Walken or Saturday Night Live…I’m talking about Cowbell, the newest restaurant to hit the ever-growing dining community on Oak Street. Yesterday, John and I joined our friend Lorin and her son Remy for lunch at Chef Brack May’s latest creation in the old Station 8801 building lying smack up against the train tracks. Though I gained a pound (gotta love the holidays!), there was no way I was going to miss my 66th cheat at Cowbell.

At just about noon, John and I left our apartment and walked the four short blocks down Oak Street to the newest burger joint in town. Only a few days before, we’d been returning home on River Road from a trip to Harahan when we noticed that the 8801 place had re-opened and I couldn’t wait to try it.

After greetings and hugs, we all walked inside to a brightly-lit, clean interior with accents of corrugated tin, whitewashed doors serving as the tops of long tables and old mixer attachments transformed into light fixtures.  We chose a table near the back next to a sun-filled window and sat down to browse the menu and place our order.

It wasn’t long before dishes began to arrive, the first being Lolo’s Chili Cheese Fries and a bowl of Quahog Clam Chowder. The hand-cut fries were wonderfully crispy and topped with a delicious combination of well-seasoned chili made from organic beef and gooey, melted cheese. We easily could have polished off two orders considering how quickly it disappeared!

When I first saw the clam chowder on the menu, I knew I had to have it, seeing as I’m a huge fan and haven’t had a bowl since leaving the Bay Area. Though I am accustomed to chowders that are super thick and creamy, I have to admit I loved Cowbell’s interpretation. The broth, while not as creamy, was still rich and buttery, heavy with the flavor of chopped clam meat and bacon. The chowder reminded me of home while still retaining that New Orleans flair and it still disappeared almost as quickly as the fries…almost.

While slurping up the last drops, our entrees arrived. Remy, John and I all selected burgers and Lorin chose the Fish Tacos. Remy and John both got the Zinfandel, bacon and onion compote topping and John added blue cheese. I couldn’t resist having the Applewood Smoked bacon and farm egg on mine… drooling as I broke the yolk and watched it ooze down the side of my perfectly medium-cooked burger.

All three of us were oohhing and aahhing over these wonderfully perfect creations (moaning with our mouth’s full might be more accurate), the grass-fed beef so lean and tasty on a firm potato bun that held up to the juiciness and extra “Agogo” sauce heavy with mayo and horseradish. Lorin said she enjoyed her tacos, which were light and fresh tasting, but I didn’t have a bite myself being so enamored and involved with my burger.

While wondering if I should use my last remaining fries to soak up some yolk that escaped, we all decided to order both available desserts; Chocolate City and Apple Pie. The Chocolate City was basically a flourless chocolate cake that was incredibly dense, creamy and rich, topped with a bright dollop of fresh whipped cream. The pie was actually more like a country tart with cinnamon and sugar spiced apples wrapped and baked in a buttery crust. Now, I know I am usually all about chocolate, but I have to say this time the winner was definitely the apple pie. But don’t get me wrong, both were fantastic!

After a fabulous, yet simple meal like that, I’d say the world needs more Cowbell, but I prefer it remain in my neighborhood.