Emma Dance finds out just why The Cowshed has the reputation for serving us some of the best steaks in Bristol
If you ask around about where to get the best steak in Bristol, sooner or later someone is sure to mention The Cowshed.
Since opening seven years ago it’s built a reputation for the superior quality of its meat – perhaps not surprising when you consider that the majority of it comes from its own butchers, Ruby and White, which are just next door – making it a go-to destination for anyone looking for a serious meaty mouthful. And over the years The Cowshed’s popularity has only grown, prompting it to take over the former Dog & Duck pub in order to accommodate all the would-be diners.
Fortunately the expansion hasn’t meant that it’s diluted the atmosphere, and when we visit the atmosphere is buzzing. Flagstone floors, stone walls and wooden tables give it the feel of a posh gastropub, and the vibe is definitely more relaxed and informal than stuffy and pretentious which seems to match the menu.
Beef is definitely the star of the show at The Cowshed, but there’s plenty of other dishes and ingredients which do their best to hog the limelight, not least some rather lovely seafood options.
This is where, on the recommendation of our waitress, I started my meal – with a Brixham crab cake with fried quail’s egg, spinach and hollandaise (£7.50). It was presented beautifully with the egg perched atop the golden crab cake, but sadly didn’t taste quite as good as it looked. The crab cake itself was very pleasant but a scooch more seasoning, a little more crab and a little less potato would have lifted it from good to great, and unfortunately the yolk of the egg was hard so there was no gorgeous cascade of yolk. That being said though, it was still a very enjoyable dish.
My husband’s ham hock and egg yolk ravioli and pea velouté (£5.75) was an unmitigated success. The salty ham made a perfect match with the sweetness of the pea, and the still-soft yolk a wonderfully rich addition.
For my main I decided to try The Cowshed’s signature Steak on the Stone – pieces of raw steak served alongside a lava rock heated to 420 degrees allowing you to cook your meat yourself, accompanied by a choice of three sauces and either chips or salad.
My fillet steak (£25.50) proved just why The Cowshed deserves its reputation as a meaty paradise. The ruby-red slices of beef were rich and earthy and some of the best I have ever eaten. I enjoyed using the hot stone and was rather pleased to quickly master the timing so that my meat was cooked to a perfect medium rare. However, if you’re a nervous cook then maybe order the chef-prepared steak because, trust me, this isn’t a piece of meat you’ll want to risk ruining.
Husband’s stone bass with Brixham crab gnocchi, tenderstem broccoli, courgette and caper and raisin purée (£19.95) proved that the kitchen could handle seafood with just as much respect as the meat. Crispy skin, soft, gently flaking fish and a fusion of well-balanced flavours made every mouthful a delight.
The Cowshed’s ethos focuses on using locally-sourced food to produce uncomplicated dishes that allow the ingredients to shine, and it really does achieve that.
Seven years on and The Cowshed is going from strength to strength, and if it continues to stay true to its roots then there’s no reason why it can’t keep going!
44-46 Whiteladies Rd, Bristol BS8 2NH
0117 973 3550