I don't even know where to begin in describing the delightful evening we had last night at Cowbell. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed into this cozy space on Queen W and encouraged to relax and savour a meal made from organic locally grown and raised ingredients.
We started with a glass of sparkling riesling and a toast to the New Year. As we caught up with friends we hadn't seen in a while, it struck us that our waiter (who we later learned was Dining Room Manager Neal Murphy) gave us all the time and space we needed. No annoying interruptions to the conversation to see if we were ready to order, no exasperated looks trying to hurry us along. When nodrog casually mentioned "we should think about ordering," Neal suddenly appeared, ready to explain each dish in detail so we'd be sure to make an informed choice.
Selecting from the 6 appetizers and 8 mains(right) proved to be a challenge, as everything sounded so good. By the time we turned to ordering, several items had already been wiped off the chalkboard. My country duck terrine was terrific and well paired with the honey saffron pear, but I was regretted not trying the many options served on the charcuterie plate. The burger, served medium rare and topped with smoked venison salami, was juicy and delicious.
Cowbell practices "whole animal cooking," using all parts of an animal in the interests of thrift and culinary exploration. When we were told that the meat served on the menu is butchered, smoked and cured just a floor below the dining room, we half-jokingly inquired about taking a tour. "Oh sure, I'll ask Chef to stop by later" was the reply.
What elevated the experience from a meal worthy of return visits to a memorable event was the personal tour of the kitchen, prep area and meat locker with none other than chef/owner Mark Cutrara. For amateur foodies like ourselves, the chance to schmooze with Mark about his cooking philosophy, sous vide, what it takes to run a successful restaurant, and his picks for places to eat in Toronto were an extra special treat! (no, I'm not telling).
1564 Queen Street West @ Sorauren