WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
Cowbell seems to be as much a work of performance art as it is a restaurant. The restaurant occupies a former Gulf Coast gas station so old that not just the service but the brand are extinct. Junky toys and tables, clearly placed on purpose, stand here and there. The menu is thoroughly eclectic, with many dishes that don't seem to belong in a place whose main specialty is hamburgers.
The hamburger is made from the most credible ingredients (lots of organic and local food here), and while it's far better than most it doesn't push the wow! button for me. The other food is of more interest, notably the clam chowder and the daily soups, the fish tacos, and the daily specials.
On Cowbell's website, owner-chef Brack May calls himself a philosopher, social entrepreneur, and teacher in addition to his cooking gig. That's credible--he was the chef in charge of Cafe Liberty for a time. We first got to know him during his stint as chef of Cobalt--the hip bistro he built with Susan Spicer in the space where Luke is now. (He says that "Cowbell" isn't a reference to "Cobalt.") Brack opened Cowbell in 2010 in the former Station 8801, which established a legacy of hip hamburgers at this location. Brack extended that.
The westernmost restaurant in Orleans Parish, Cowbell is next to the railroad tracks at the mutual end of Oak and Eagle Streets. It blends in perfectly with the neighborhood, with its kitchen and tables still adapting to the layout of the gas station. The ones inside are more comfortable, but the battered picnic tables outside are more popular.
»Quahog clam chowder, bacon, red bliss potatoes
Mixed green salad
Figgy toast (andouille, sweet and sour figs, blue cheese)
Grilled chicken and arugula salad, pecans, apples, goat cheese, sherry-maple vinaigrette
»Hot organic beef chili cheese fries
Gulf shrimp quesadilla, black beans, white cheddar
»Adult-style grilled cheese, mug of soup
»Hamburger, potato roll, hand cut fries, house sauce
Brown rice and red bean burger
»Grilled fish tacos, black beans, arroz verde, cilantro-lime crema
Skirt steak, black bean sauce, plantains, mango salsa
Barbecue ribeye, mac and cheese, asparagus, onion rings
»Lime-grilled organic chicken, beans, avocado salsa, tortillas
FOR BEST RESULTS
Make sure you know about the specials before thinking about your order. The chef is talented and comes up with some great new ideas.Have dessert somewhere else.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The barbecue ribeye is not only uninteresting, but non-conforming with the rest of the menu with a $32 price tag. The nasty little notes about a couple of inconsequential house rules add nothing to the experience. Have dessert somewhere else.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -2
- Consistency +1
- Service -1
- Value +1
- Attitude -1
- Wine and Bar
- Hipness +3
- Local Color +2
- Sidewalk tables
- Good view
- Quick, good meal
- Easy, nearby parking
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