A letdown of a lunch at the Cowshed

It’s quite rare I write a bad review – a mediocre one maybe, but rarely a bad one. In fact, it’s quite rare that a restaurant makes me feel angry but one managed to today. The culprit? The Cowshed on Whiteladies Road.

It started off as a lovely proposition – a dog walk and then Sunday lunch but as I rang round some old favourites to make a reservation, it was obvious that lots of other people had the same idea and everywhere was fully booked. I eventually called the Cowshed and they did have space so I promptly booked in – I hadn’t been there for Sunday lunch for a long time but we often partake in the weekday lunchtime deal so thought it would be great.

We were seated and drinks were ordered and quickly brought to our table. My dining companion, Caleb and I both wanted the roasted pork belly but when we went to order it, we were told that they had run out so I went for the roasted sirloin and Caleb ordered the lamb which came two ways.

We waited over half an hour for our meal and the table of two next to us who were sat after us and had ordered after us were served first. The restaurant was busy-ish but certainly wasn’t full (we were seated in the newer extended part) and there was no apology for the food coming late. When I had ordered the beef, the waiter asked if I was all right with it rare. ‘Yes!’ I enthused. What came was most certainly not rare. It was pretty close to well done and dry around the edges. In fact it looked like meat that had sat under the hot lamps for too long. Pretty disappointing. The sides weren’t very impressive – certainly not something worth waiting such a long time for. The Savoy cabbage was shredded and boiled but served with no butter or seasoning and was rather plain. The carrot and swede mash was watery and overly purified (“I do have teeth,” was the verdict from Caleb) but the cauliflower cheese looked good and the roast potatoes were golden and crispy.

I really wasn’t happy with the beef at all so I asked a waitress if I could have some prerequisite rare slices to which she agreed to. Caleb’s saddle of lamb was very fatty and the thin slice of rolled breast still had its string round it which wasn’t very appetising.

My beef didn’t come. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Caleb was feeling quite ill (no reflection on the food or the restaurant, I might add) so we called yet another waiter over to explain the beef situation and that it still hadn’t come and we wanted to go. The waitress who had dealt with me before came over and said that the beef was coming and that the kitchen had to carve more. Not very satisfactory considering how long we had to wait in the first place and made even worse that while we were waiting for my replacement beef, we had clocked other dishes of roast beef coming out of the kitchen. And how long does it really take to carve a couple of slices?

As the side dishes were now cold, we decided to cut our losses and go. The waiter packaged up the remaining food and they were good enough to knock one of the meals and the drinks off the bill but we were still very disappointed with our lunch. £15.50 for one course is one of the more expensive roast lunches in Bristol and it hardly seems good value for money considering the competition on Whiteladies Road with the Townhouse and Brace & Browns

It’s such a shame that the quality of customer service and execution in the kitchen lets them down considering that the restaurant occupies such a lovely space and has a local source of fantastic meat from Ruby & White’s next door. The Cowshed’s ethos of ‘simple things, done well’ was not evident at lunch today and with many other establishments in the local area, I won’t be returning in a hurry.

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