Cowshed, Whiteladies Road: August 2015 Review

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Earlier on this summer, chef Jethro Lawrence returned to Cowshed on Whiteladies Road to head up their kitchen. Lawrence originally joined Cowshed when they opened back in 2009, leaving a few years later for pastures new. Now he’s back, and with a brand new menu also on offer, my sister and I headed over to Cowshed for a midweek evening meal to see what impact these changes have made.

We were seated by the window in the main restaurant rather than the next door extension on a busy Thursday night: a table with a great view of the activity on Whiteladies Road and with comfortable seating. We chose to stick with soft drinks and house-filtered water rather than choosing from the extensive wine list, before taking a look through the brand new dinner menu.

Quality and provenance are key for Cowshed: all meat is sourced through their own butchery (Ruby & White, located next door), so they know that everything they served is both fairly and responsibly sourced. While Cowshed is known for its steaks, there’s plenty of other choice on the menu too, including other meat dishes, poultry and vegetarian dishes. Those following a gluten- or dairy-free diet will also be happy to know that suitable dishes are clearly marked on the menu.

I began my meal with the Native Lobster Ravioli (£10.25): a single, large raviolo with perfectly al dente pastry and a delicately flavoured chopped lobster filling. The lobster bisque that surrounded it was rich, warming and full of flavour, while the samphire was also beautifully cooked.

 

Cowshed - Lobster Ravioli

 

My sister’s choice was the smokey pulled pork scotched duck egg (£7.75), served in a Kilner jar that was opened at the table to reveal a cloud of smoke: a nice touch. The flavour of the barbecue mayonnaise with which this was served was amazingly smokey, and the Hispi cabbage slaw a creamy contrast to the strong flavours. While the scotched egg was executed well in terms of its cooking, we felt that it could have done with a touch more seasoning.

 

Cowshed - Pulled Pork Scotched Egg

 

She couldn’t fault her main course, though: both slow cooked breast and rack of Texel lamb (£17.75), perfectly tender and still lovely and pink. The parmesan risotto still had a good bite, layers of rice interspersed with wilted gem lettuce and slices of courgette, and topped with crisp asparagus and finely chopped slivers of black olive.

 

Cowshed - Lamb

 

My main of West Country surf and turf (£16.50) was sadly a little more hit and miss. The presentation was fantastic: the juicy whole langoustine reclining on top of a thick slab of confit pork belly, while the burnt apple purée dotted around the edge of the stack was a revelation. The Jersey Royals were perfectly well cooked (although a little uninspiring), but the pork belly was overcooked and a bit of a disappointment.

 

Cowshed - Surf and Turf

 

The desserts more than made up for this, though: my sister’s lemon Eton mess (£6.50) was a beautifully presented deconstruction of this traditional dish: miniature meringues with a crunch on the outside and a chewy centre; small slivers of tart raw lemon; an unctuous and sweet lemon curd and a scattering of tangy lemon sherbert adorning the slate, along with a small sponge that added a different texture to the dish.

 

Cowshed - Lemon Eton Mess

 

I was also seriously impressed with my mocha parfait (also £6.50): smooth, creamy and sweet, topped with crunchy coffee beans and sitting on a bed of crumbled chocolate biscuit. The parfait was served with three mini cinnamon doughnuts, which were light and fluffy inside, along with a pot of rich chocolate sauce and one of milk foam for dunking. I still don’t understand the use of slates for melting desserts, though…

 

Cowshed - Mocha Parfait

 

While aspects of the meal were a little disappointing, we were impressed overall: there’s a great deal of choice on the menu, dishes are attractively presented and we loved the combination of the traditional and the more innovative. Service was fantastic throughout, and while we’ve had some not particularly great experiences at Cowshed in the past, this recent visit was probably the best so far.

 

Please note: our meal and drinks were received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

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