Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cowboy Star

We had a chance to taste a sneak preview of offerings prior to San Diego Restaurant Week. We had a choice of a few places in which to nosh, Sbicca, Kensington Grill and a few others. But the one that stuck out in the crowd was Cowboy Star. I have wanted to go here ever since it opened and just never found the time. It was the perfect choice, and man, what the Hell was I waiting for before I came here? The entire place works on so many different levels. Not only is this place one of San Diego's finest restaurants it also has a full service butcher shop located in the front.The concept is brilliant I must say. Cowboy meets meat and brings it into high end cuisine. The waiter's wear western shirts similar to Jimme Dodd, Oh come on you remember him don't ya? OK, I'm old. The place hits you as something special as soon as you walk in. Beautiful upscale western motif, I know , I know. But trust me it works. The music that roams in the background is an exceedingly cool mix of western songs before it became Country & Western and then just Country. To opera. The look of the place is just as well thought out. high wood ceilings mixed with lots of iron. If I have any complaint it would be that it's a tad to dark. I mean the food that is served here should be illuminated a bit is just that good that you really miss that third sense of presentation. You definitely get the smell and taste. Otherwise this place looks and feels like a Tom Colicchio restaurant.

Like I said the place is pretty dark inside and I don't like to use flash as not to disturb other diners. It has a classic open kitchen where you can see all of the action. The owner John Weber is the consummate host, running from table to table bringing out dishes and greeting people. I love it when you have an owner that has a vision and a passion for what they do.
Ok, on to the food and wine. we started out with a Old vine Zinfandel from Renwood Winery in located in the picturesque California foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

It was so fat and happy, like me. Anything that says "old Vine" on the label I love and this was very good. Glenn, our waiter told us that the bartender usually picks the wine for the place and man, it is a very tight list of all domestic wines. The Western concept wouldn't work with a French Bordeaux, that would cross the line between pretension and passion. by keeping it all domestic and good values, the wine works with the theme.
The tasting menu for restaurant week is amazing. We started with a small cup of cannelloni bean soup, it was clean and fresh with a hint of truffle oil maybe? I have to say a word about the bread. I often find that San Diego lacks really good bread, But I was pleasantly surprised that the Squaw and Sour Dough rolls presented to us were first rate. Our server Glenn was Jonny on the spot. As was the busing service and who really uses a crumb comb these days? well this place does.

We started with the Cauliflower soup with poached lobster garnish. It was so light and airy. had the texture of a lightly whipped cappuccino froth. The best of the vegetable came out. There are only so many, Bams!! you can do to a dish. the end result is always, let the food speak for itself. The lobster morsel floating on top was perfect and a great topper for the dish.
Next came the American Wagyu Carpaccio. Heaven I must say. to even run a Bic lighter over this quality of beef should be a capital offense. Creamy and smooth like Sade in her prime it sang until I melted. And it's love was real.

This beef is so creamy that it will put the best Ahi you have had to shame. Next came the Entrees.
We had the petite Filet with seasonal farmers market vegetables and potatoes. The steak was cooked perfectly and had great flavor to it. it came with a peppercorn sauce and I must say that I am no fan of sauces for steaks. You should be able to taste the beef and the quality and sauces just tend to cover that up. The peppercorn sauce that came with the dish was outstanding to say the least. it was light and breezy and knew just what to do. It had the same whipped and light taste on the palette as the soup.

Next we had the Pheasant. Pheasant? Oh yeah, Pheasant, the king of game birds.And OMG!! It was amazing. I haven't had this bird in sooooo long. If you have never tried pheasant, you need to. It is slightly creamy with a sweet taste to it. this one came with poached pearl onions, braised bacon and Armagnac prunes. Ok. I know anything with bacon has to be good right? 

Didn't need the bacon. But the Armagnac prunes? oh yeah they worked so well with the dish, with the combo of of the bacon. the sweet and the savory. yup. worked.
We had the Bread pudding for dessert. If you do nothing else. you are mandated to come here for desert and to taste this incredible dish. this awful picture does not do it justice.

This is one well thought out place, from the theme to the menu. The menu also features porkbellies and sweetbreads. Are you kidding me? oh man. I am going back for more. also on the menu this night were Hudson Valley Foie Gras.I can never get enough of it. Also on the regular menu is Venison carpaccio, rabbit, Bison, lamb and main lobster. this reminds me of great little Osteria's of Europe. But we forget that to really experience great regional dishes made with high quality ingredients we really don't have to travel abroad anymore. The American palette and cuisine has finally arrived and in San Diego it is in the form of Cowboy Star.
 So the bottom line San Diego is, In the current economy we might not be able to fly over to Europe for a culinary adventure, but with places like this here in our town? you really don't need to anymore. We have come along way in this country food wise and we need to really support San Diego Restaurant  week and places like Cowboy Star.
You will find none better in Europe.



640 10th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 450-5880


caninecologne said...

hi michael -

a nicely written post i must stay. you've been quite prolific this year!

one of my co-workers had his bday/retirement party at cowboy star. he loved it - he is a modern day cowboy and workships Roy Rogers. you described the atmosphere perfectly - now that my friend is retired, he's wearing Jimmy Dodd type shirts all the type even when he's not riding his horses.

re: pheasant - i've never tried that before but i'm sure it tastes great. i will try almost anything except maybe haggis. oh wtf, i'd try haggis!

i liked the mention of crumb combs. the first time my husband and i experienced a 'crumb comb' was at elario's in la jolla. also at Laurel (RIP). very classy i must say. i felt like a messy melvin when they did that.

Michael said...

Thanks cc, Haggis...hahahaha. I would have to sneak up on it after a few single malts myself. It was invented by the same people who stuck a reed in a bladder and called it bagpipes.

The Diligent Diletante said...

if i hadnt already had my eye on the place as one to try on a special occasion, your post def would have made me want to run on over. the carpaccion looks divine....

Michael said...

Hi dd, It is really a very yummy place.

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